Archive for the 'Citizen Journalism' Category

Rising Voices Reports Back with Rahool

David Sasaki of Rising Voices accompanied Rahool at the Interdependece Day Summit in Brussels last week. Here is is report from the Rising Voices Blog:

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Greetings from the sixth annual Interdependence Day in Brussels, Belgium. I am here with Rahool Goswami of the Neighbourhood Diaries project in Kolkata, India and Patricia Rakotomalala of the Foko project in Madagascar, both of whom are representing Rising Voices at the first ever Youth Summit of Interdependence Day. rahool and pati

Pati and Rahool at Interdependence Day Intellectuals, political leaders and artists from around the world gather each year for the four-day forum that corresponds with the 9/11 anniversary to help find cooperative alternatives to terrorism, and to help create democratic solutions to global challenges related to economics, the environment, technology and health. The theme of this year’s forum, “The City as Commons in a Divided World”, examines the challenges facing multicultural cities like Brussels as microcosms of the greater challenges to peaceful co-exitence in our era of accelerating globalization. Here is a ten minute promotional video about the event.

At last year’s Interdependence Day in Mexico City the organizers of the event realized the importance of involving young people in the discussions about achieving global interconnectedness and ‘interdependence’, which led to this year’s inaugural Global Interdependence Youth Summit. Around twenty young participants from around the world representing Rising Voices, Remedee, OneVoice, and the The Flemish Youth Council all came together to discuss issues related to intercultural dialogue. Picture 1.png

Participants of the Global Interdependence Youth Summit

For Rahool Goswami from the Neighbourhood Diaries project, this was his first time out of West Bengal. Here are his impressions on the differences between his hometown of Kolkata and Brussels.

The Youth Summit gave the participants an opportunity to interact with well known intellectuals and celebrities like Cornel West who candidly answered whatever questions were put to him. Here is Professor West speaking about the internet, hip-hop, and hierarchies of power:

Dalia Labadi, one of the Palestinian representatives of OneVoice also produced a video interview with Cornel West about the Palestinian struggle. The youths also had a chance to talk amongst themselves and lead their own discussions, including a dynamic group exploration of identity. The final day of the conference was specifically dedicated to the Youth Summit. Unfortunately most of the adults from the previous three days did not attend the youth forum, but all of the Youth Summit participants were pleased to find out that they will be invited to next year’s Interdependence Day which will take place in Istanbul in September 2009. They made several suggestions about how the Youth Summit can be expanded and improved. The final panel of the conference examined “The Need for Intercultural and Transnational Collaboration.” It gathered Benjamin Barber, James Early, Adam Michnik, and Ferenc Miszlivetz along with four of the youth participants: Shlomo Haar from Israel, Christoforos Pavlakis from Greece, Patricia Rakotomalala from Madagascar, and Hainalka Szarvas from Hungary.

Unfortunately most of the conversation bounced back and forth between the adults on either side of the table, which makes Pati’s point about adults needing to take more seriously the thoughts and suggestions of youth all the more poignant: There were originally supposed to be five young representatives from Rising Voices at Interdependence Day, but Diego Ospina, Deneiber Mesa, and Taslima Akter all had difficulties securing their visas. Hopefully they will be able to join Rahool, Pati and the other youths at next year’s Global Interdependence Youth Summit in Istanbul. While Diego, Deneiber, and Taslima were not able to join us, we were fortunate to receive a surprise visit by Sipagasy, a longtime supporter and volunteer of the Foko project who is based in Paris. She wrote a post in French on the Foko blog about her participation in the event, and particularly the guided tour of Molenbeek by activist priest Daniel Alliet. Rising Voices has shown that, slowly but surely, the internet can bring together individuals from across cultures, countries, and languages. But nothing beats being able to sit down face to face and enjoy relaxing conversation.

We are grateful to the organizers of Interdependence Day for enabling us to do just that in Brussels and we look forward to more great conversation with more diverse voices in Istanbul next year.


Kalam and Thoughtshop: Towards creating a sense of belonging with the community

In March-April, Kalam has been holding a series of 4-5 workshops with Thoughtshop Foundation, a Kolkata-Based social communications organization. Thoughtshop is in the process of conducting a 2-year process with certain para clubs with a mandate of social development, helping them to go beyond performing certain altruistic activities with the community throughout the year, equipping them to take on the role of para resource centres. The young people had already been trained to make hardcore surveys in the para, focussing on statistics, facts and figures. Kalam was asked to step in at this point and take these young people through certain experiences/processes that would build a sense of deep bonding and ownership with the community, as well as increase critical and creative thinking about the same.

We put together four sessions, partly inspired from Neighbourhood Diaries but diverging from it in many repects. We have been working with seven people from different communities, in the 21-27 years age range, from slumlike areas close to the Airport, Khidderpore, VIP road and Lake Gardens. The first session happened on 7th March, where we focussed on discussing the “geographical” vs “emotional” boundaries of a para, drawing a “personal Para Map”, and creatively writing about one’s para using the 5 senses. In the 2nd session on the 14th, we tried to reach an understanding of the sense of “home” within the para/community, as well as the diferent types of people within ones para, and how we could reach across to them. On the 28th, in the third session, we examined the different stages in our personal lives, what we were, what we are and what we are yet to become, recollecting memories as well as visualizing our roles in the community, and then went on to research parallely the stage-by-stage history of the community in the same way. In the 4th session on the 4th of April, we focussed on trying to bulid up a sense of belonging/pride with our community through the process of writing tourist book articles on our paras.

The process was quiet fruitful. We could see the sense of ownership with the para/community develop and deepen as the process of introspecting and critical thinking went on. We will meet these people for the 5th and final session after two weeks, in which we will try to clarify and redefine “para” and “community”. The participants will also create scrapbooks about their communities, putting together all the writing and artwork they have done with us so far, and adding snaps.

Re-Writing Bow Bazaar

Its been seven weeks since Neighbourhood Diaries started its work in Bow Bazaar, a popularly known ‘slum’ and ‘red-light area’ in Central Calcutta. Through the weekly workshops faciliated by staff Urbi Bhaduri and Bina Dalui,  youth journalists from Bow Bazaar have written about neighbourhood landmarks, homes, community personalties, and thriving industries of their locale. These young teenagers, armed with writing pads and ‘Para Journalist’ I.D. cards, are asserting their identity as researchers and storytellers of their neighborhood and community to re-write Bow Bazaar as a multi-faceted neighbourhood.

To follow the weekly writing and photography by these young writers, visit our Neighbourhood Diaries blog.  Furthermore, for more context on Neighbourhood Diaries in context to other citizen media projects around the world, check out updates and features on Diaries by Rising Voices.

Diaires Workshop

Youth journalists engage in conversation at one of the Diaires workshops at Bow Bazaar Highschool.

Neighbourhood Diaires Begins in Bow Bazaar

Neighbourhood Diairies – Kalam’s pilot citizen journalism program – started its 15-week workshop series this month.  This pilot program is underway with youth from Sanlaap in Bow Bazaar neighbourhood. Twelve young residents of Bow Bazaar ranging from the ages 14 to 18 meet every Monday at Bow Bazaar Highschool (rented out by Sanlaap as an evening community center) for a 2 hour workshop where neighborhood stories and culture are examined, discussed, and written by the young. 

Bow Bazaar Highschool 

In the coming weeks, we’ll continue to work in and through the neighbourhood as local journalists interviewing residents, observing and recording events, and listening and telling community stories. For weekly updates on Neighbourhood Diaries Bow Bazaar, visit our Diaries blog. Here you’ll find session plans, session assessments, workshop photographs, and writings from Diary Journalists.

Neigbourhood Diaires is a citizen writing program moblising young people living in ‘slums’ as citizen journalists to research, write and disseminate unrecognized and authentic community narratives in local and global media.  It is being funded by Rising Voices, the outreach wing of Global Voices.

posted by Sahar Romani

‘Rising Voices’ Micro-Grant

Good news this morning.

Neighbourhood Diaires – Kalam’s pilot, citizen journalism program – is going to manifest this year.

Rising Voices, the outreach arm of Global Voices, awarded Kalam a micro-grant to begin Neighborhood Diaries in two urban slums of the city. Now with the support of this grant (a big big thank you to Aparna Ray and David Sasaki), Neigbourhood Diaries will begin shop in October 2007, mobilizing youth residents in two neighbourhoods (or what seem like urban slums to the outsider) as researchers, writers, photographers and bloggers in and of their own neighbourhood.

Through workshops on critical thinking, journalistic writing, audio-visual media, we hope to ignite youth residents to start thinking about their personal and community stories, issues, and histories, as an integral and vibrant part of the socio-cultural fabric of urban India. And to start writing about them. And blogging about them. Because writing and blogging from the grassroots is a way to disseminate authentic and unrecognized community narratives in global media.

Sounds ambitious?

We think its a small step. And a necessary one. And we’re ready to take it. Grounded and guided (and kept in check) with the communities we work in, we know we are ready.

posted by Sahar Romani

Visual Literacy in Neighborhood Diaries

While thinking through ideas for Kalam’s citizen journalism project — Neighborhood Diaries (ND) — I’ve been reading Wendy Ewald’s I Wanna Take me A Picture, a seminal work on the pedagogy of Literacy through Photography (LTP).

In an earlier post, Bishan shared visions for the curriculum of ND, outlining pertinent themes to ground young practioners in as they engage in the process of documenting and narrating intimate and local worlds through photography and writing.

Ewald in her practice of LTP stresses the the importance of teaching young people how to “read images” as a fundamental step before launching young practitioners into the process of photography and writing. I think this a crucial component for us to consider in ND’s curriculum — the component of Visual Literacy. ND will be working with youth living in slum settlements, red-light areas and other neighborhoods, which are often visually incarcerated in tropes of “the poor,” “the unhygienic,” or “the criminal,” in many popular discourses. Our curriculum needs to encourage and guide young residents to critically think about visual representations of neighborhoods like their own, as well as,  explore the politics of  the  gaze. I think its important for the young practitioners to recognize, interpret and interrogate the Outsider’s Gaze in order for them to realize their own Gaze and its difference. As Ewald says,

Reading the photograph helps students progress from observing the details of an image to trying to understand the story behind it. In reading this way, we’ve laid the groundwork for the children’s more nuanced examination of other images, and for their thoughtful planning of their own photographs. Through the process of reading photographs, children can begin to understand that photographs do indeed convey the emotions of their subjects – not simply because of the some magic inherent in the subject itself, but through the choices the photographer makes and the way in which images are made.

For our curriculum we should consider keeping the first few sessions around Visual Literacy. But what about visual literacy? And what activities would be effective to stimulate visual literacy? These are good questions. Questions I don’t have the answer to. But I think its a good inquiry we should engage in as Educators. Its a direction we should consider exploring as we think through Neighborhood Diaries as a pilot project and curriculum-in-the-making.

posted by Sahar Romani

Neighbourhood Diaries: Imagining a Curriculum

posted by bishan samaddar

We have been talking about Neighbourhood Diaries for a while. It envisions to combine elements of Self-exploratory Creative Writing, Literacy through Photography and Citizen Journalism. However, we haven’t given much thought to what exactly the curriculum would look like. Here’s a skeleton of a curriculum that can be given some thought to, i suppose. Like Writing Out, this might also start with the exploration of the immediate self, and then slowly move centrifugally to larger themes. Each section should take up three to four weeks:

Self…  Discussion: Exploring the self: how do others see us? How do we see ourselves? Talk about Identities.  Activity/Writing Activity: Locating one object with which you identify, or something that symbolizes your self-perceived or self-defined identity.  Photo Assignment: Self-portrait and Photo of the identity object.  Self-inquiry; developing the spirit of questioning/interrogating self and beyond.

Home… Discussion: Home as a space which is a mixture of both desirable and undesirable elements. A part of your home you like, a part of your home you do not like that much (What memories are associated with these spaces? What issues come up?). A part of your home you like, a part of your home you do not like that much. Objective: Critical consciousness of personal space.

Neighbourhood (Place)…Discussion: Two specific places in the neighbourhood that has significance for you… description, daily activities, histories. Vignettes, focusing on details and based on observation and researched histories. Photo Assignment: Photographs of the places, from different angles/perspectives or at different times of the day, representing different aspects of the same physical spot. Developing research skills, consciousness of subaltern histories.

Neighbourhood (People) Discussion: Looking at people as characters. Writing Activity: Select one person in the neighbourhood and make a Portrait Sketch, based on observation, interview, researched personal histories. Photo Assignment: Portraits + Photo series depicting the daily life of the subject. Researching Life Stories.