Participatory media can be a powerful tool in discussing sensitive issues—it allows individuals to give a personal, human face to the discussion as well as to lend perspective to what is often a broad area that is otherwise difficult to encapsulate. As well, it is a form of media which also benefits those who participate in its creation. In this way, the Mapping Memories project not only informed the discussion of immigration policy, but also allowed participants the opportunity to speak out and represent themselves rather than having the identity of “the victim” thrust upon them as is so often done in popular media.
Reading about the Mapping Memories project reminded me of another project driven by community participation. Similar in kind, although not in content, The September 11th Photo Project is a participatory media project which allowed individuals the opportunity to vividly express their emotions and experience through photographs and written memory. The photographs and text were displayed in a gallery and in galleries around the country, and remains an important community initiated memorial. Today the photo submissions are compiled online with the opportunity for visitors to the site to respond to the memories according to their own experiences. Check it out here: http://sep11photo.org/september-11-photo-project/about/