The ideas expressed in the readings for week 12 of our class strengthen the call for participatory media and the idea that “the process is generally more considered more important that the product,” as stressed in Video for Change: A Guide for Advocacy and Activism by www.witness.org. While this advocacy guide serves to prove, through amazing (and saddening) examples, the power of video and storytelling in successfully maintaining ethical accountability, I found Mapping Memories to be much more engaging.
In the first chapter “Refugee Youth & Participatory Practice” the reader is introduced to the participatory project in which youth refugees in Canada are partake in workshops aimed at empowering them through their use of media tools and storytelling. Mapping Memories serves as a guide for how (and why) to enact participatory programs. The first chapter defines a participatory process as offering participants “a say in how the work is presented and distributed.” The leaders of the workshop believe “that participation should take place at every phase of the project – from initial planning, to recruitment, to the development of goals, to production, and dissemination.” (p. 10) Additionally, as mentioned multiple times within the second chapter, the creation of such a workshop is always subject to change as it is a learning process for the teachers as well. Another important point emphasized in the second chapter “Tell Me a Story: Digital Storytelling Workshops at Maison Haidar, a Residence for Refugees” is the “trust factor” and that the members all feel comfortable and that there is somebody who they trust in the room.
These readings along with our class discussion made me wonder about to what extent the documentary Girl Rising (which I love!) is participatory in the participatory vs. advocacy debate. The screening I attended had a panel in which the people involved in the making of the movie explained how each girl was partnered with a writer to help tell her story…yet the girls were not involved at every step of the production and distribution of the movie. Still, I think it is participatory. I am curious what others think about this. Below is a preview to the film.