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video4change Retreat and Sprint Highlights

From 2 – 9 June 2012, EngageMedia and WITNESS co-hosted a video4change retreat and sprint attended by 13 other organisations doing work in the area of using video for social change. These included the following organisations:

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  • Small World News
  • Video Volunteers
  • Digital Democracy
  • B’Tselem
  • InsightShare
  • Mosireen
  • Kampung Halaman
  • MIT Center for Civic Media
  • Tactical Technology Collective
  • FlossManuals
  • Organisation for Visual Progression
  • SocialTIC
  • Pusat KOMAS

There were two parts to the gathering: the first four days (from 2 – 5 June) were devoted to a retreat, where we discussed different video4change issues, challenges, experiences, needs and collaboration ideas; the last three days (from 7 – 9 June) were spent working in teams to develop materials that the group saw as gaps in resources.

video4change is More than a Video Camera

One of the highlights was to witness the breadth and depth of how video could be used to contribute to social change. The participating organisations had different approaches and theories of change  in using video for change. Some organisations use participatory video as way to bring communities together, some use video to document human rights abuses in order to make significant policy changes and to raise awareness on the realities communities are facing, and some use video to support community and citizen journalism to increase people’s ability to represent themselves and their issues. This range of experiences contributed to being able to defining video4change.

During the sprint, there was group working on assessing the impact of video on social change and they defined video4change tactics as more than a video camera. It is a:

  • Magnet: Pulling people together, engaging them in a process and strengthening groups
  • Stethoscope: Listening to the pulse of the situation or community, a reality check, connecting with the heart and emotion behind the issues
  • Loudspeaker / Megaphone: Amplifying voices; a mouse with a megaphone is like a lion!
  • Transporter: Enabling people to travel through space, connecting people who might never meet, creating dialogue between disparate communities
  • Brain: Recording events, commitments or actions; creating memories that can be passed across generations; collecting local knowledge and creating an archive of human experience
  • Torch: helping people look deeper into a problem and illuminating not only the issues but also the people involved

Being able to define video4change is such succinct, concise and clear points would not have been possible without the breadth of experiences present in the retreat.

Mapping Materials and Gaps

Another highlight was being able to start mapping the video4change resources and materials. We held an exercise where people filled out matrices on the different video production processes:

  • Spotlight: Shine light on groups or issues that have been marginalised
  • Spark / Catalyst / Match: Ignite action, spark conversation and discussion
  • Mirror: Reflecting back to yourself, see the community form a new perspective, a way to reflect one what is good and what they want to change
  • Eye: The camera has no judgment, it records merely what is in front of it, eye witness
  • Ear: An ear, an objective ear that listens without interrupting, hear how people want to be represented
  • Voice box: A collection of different voices together into one space
  • Compass: Allow communities to find direction, vision on how you want to move forward
  • Strategy and Planning
  • Pre-production
  • Production
  • Post-production: editing
  • Distribution and Engagement
  • Building Tools
  • Media Management
  • Online and Self-directed Learning

We then asked each participating organisation to fill out the matrices based on which areas they were training in and developing resources on. The result was a quick glance of the areas where the participating organisations have developed expertise on and what the gaps were in terms of expertise and materials.

While there are sufficient materials, guides and resources for the Strategy and Planning and Pre-production, the other areas will need more materials developed. Specifically in:

  • updating existing materials
  • expanding whatever is available and moving beyond ‘tips’
  • ensuring that the materials are in plain language for a broader audience
  • providing case studies / examples of successful strategies per topic
  • pointing to specific tools, if possible
video4change Collaboration Ideas

Another highlight was starting to build a trusted network. Although discussions on building a formal video4change network were put on hold until we are able to bring other voices and groups into the fold and until there is a more concrete need for such a network, the participants agreed and committed to working together in the future. Initial ideas for collaboration include:

  • using to share and blog about materials / guides / resources that the participating organisations have produced
  • trainers exchange, where organisations will contribute towards getting trainers from other participating organisations to attend and assist in the organisation’s training workshops in order to learn from each other’s areas of expertise
  • collectively promote each other’s work through organisational blogs and

Room for Improvement

Everyone in the retreat was well aware there was a lot of room for improvement. For one, since this was the first of its kind, the agenda that we (WITNESS and EngageMedia) had designed was packed! We felt that we needed to go through a series of topics ranging from different training pedagogy to safety, ethics and security issues to skill-sharing to new challenges and trends in video4change to fundraising. But all in all, the folks that attended the retreat and the sprint were patient enough to go through the entire agenda. Perhaps, if there is ever another of these gatherings, the agenda may not be as broad.

For another, there are so many voices still to include in gatherings like these. Expanding the participating organisations and individuals, ensuring that regions are well-represented and ensuring (more importantly) that other experiences in video4change are included will definitely be things that need to be considered if there is such another event.

There is definitely interest from the participants to hold something like this again. Hopefully, we can organise a second (and third and fourth …) video4change gathering again. Because, if the results yielded are even just half of what the first one has achieved, then it will be well worth the effort of organising another one.

The Future…?

EngageMedia and WITNESS as the organising groups for the gathering will definitely have a lot to follow up on to ensure that the momentum gained in the retreat and the sprint is not lost. We will keep this blog posted on further activities and developments that will happen with the participating organisations of the video4change retreat.