By Joyce Carroll
Special to Delaware Business Times
Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Be the change that you want to see in the world.” If only Gandhi could have met videographer Ivan Thomas.
Thomas is on the cusp of creating that change in his hometown of Wilmington. Affable, with an infectious smile, he’s on a mission. Not dissuaded by negative national press citing violent crime rates, Thomas sees his city as steps away from a comeback through a change in perspective. The 39-year-old father is using social media as his stage.
Airing on YouTube, DeTv currently features Wilmington’s movers and shakers. Thomas hopes to expand programming statewide, covering high-school sports, health and wellness, and other positive activities, he said. Programs like “Lunch with a Politician”, would pair a politician with someone at the opposite end of the spectrum. “The idea is to show the common ground between the two of them,” he said.
Delaware’s award-winning cinematographer Tim Fontaine, who mentored Thomas, is among the nearly dozen volunteers working behind the scenes at DeTv. In time, Thomas hopes advertising will help cover production costs but, for now, DeTv is a labor of love. He also owns Blu Films Media Group, a videography business that launched in 2012.
Thomas is no stranger to personal pain. Soon after closing his decade-old business, 302 Automotive, he fell into depression. In 2013, he simultaneously watched his father die while his premature daughter struggled for survival. (Madison is now a healthy toddler).
While life had presented some lemons, his lemonade moment came in December, while sitting in a darkened parking lot at Faith City Family Church in Newark. He was reflecting on the good works of his pastor.
“But then I realized that there were a lot of people in Wilmington that no one knows about,” he said. He began posting names and deeds on Facebook, and generated 150 likes within an hour. “And, I was still sitting in the parking lot,” he said, adding it was then that he understood the power behind positive promotion as the vehicle for a paradigm shift.
Aware that change doesn’t happen in a vacuum, Thomas has much to say about the changing society around him. He recalls values he was taught in the community center where he spent much of his youth. “These were tools that built me into who I am today,” he said. While it’s easy to point the finger at today’s youth, he said, improving conditions for adults is the first step. “We need to go after the adults who have been misplaced through loss of jobs. (They) need to get their dignity back. Then, they can help the kids,” he said.
Thomas does more than record – he walks the talk. He has witnessed the unexpected joy derived from spontaneous kindness. Not long ago he said to a grocery clerk, “Ring hers up to,” referring to the woman behind him in line. His hope is that DeTv will also capture and share similar experiences. In his words, “It’s time to bring that love back.”