HiperBarrio Gets Its Groove Back

Every writer, poet, journalist, and yes, blogger has experienced that confounding loss of inspiration and eloquence that we so often refer to as writer's block. It is only natural that such hills and dips also hit the content flow of the citizen media grantee projects of Rising Voices. Over the past few months the amount of online activity among the young Colombian citizen journalists from La Loma who refer to themselves as ConVerGentes has ebbed considerably.

Taking this into consideration, project leader Álvaro Ramirez is trying inject some enthusiasm back into the group:

Activities have resumed at HiperBarrio and ConVerGentes. Six months ago we were participating in Campus Party, a party that left us with digital memories, unforgettable experiences and much knowledge. Time flies and in January 2009 Campus Party is already past tense. On Saturday we had a special meeting, where after an analysis of the group's current situation, we decided to chart the path for this year's activities.

The central task will be to strengthen the group's activity, which has declined somewhat in recent months. To achieve this we want to commit to those participants who have been a little distant, train them better, and give them tasks related to projects we are working on. We will invite new members to join our small community. We also intend to begin taking steps toward becoming an organization in order to extend our experience to three other libraries around Medellín.

One of the goals we want to achieve is the constant updating of our main blog by inviting each participant to write and share their views in a space that we hope reflects a type of collective thinking, analysis, and commitment to social action.

We will name a couple of editors who are responsible to manage the frequent publication of entries and photos about our activities and those of the other groups who are with us throughout the world under the umbrella of Rising Voices.

We will revive the idea of VideoBarrio and begin to produce a video each month for the monthly digital magazine Equinoxio, and we intend to produce several sound projects (podcast and audio-art) for the same purpose. We begin this new year with renewed enthusiasm and with the idea of keeping up the activity of a community that enjoys sharing knowledge, stories and dreams with others scattered throughout the globe.

Álvaro's enthusiasm has already become contagious. Catalina Restrepo, one of the group's most active bloggers, has written an entry on the ConVerGentes group blog updating readers about their campaign to provide proper housing for Manuel Pizarro, also known as Suso. Thanks to the donations of Sofia Gallisa, Romina Oliverio, Nicholas Laughlin, Catherine Bracy, Lova Rakotomalala, Jillian York, Ben Paarmann, and Paula Goés, the members of HiperBarrio were able to purchase a front door for Suso's new house as well as relieve some of their debt from previous purchase of building supplies.


Manuel Pizarro peering into his new home. This photo was taken before his new front door was purchased.

Carmen Paniagua, another veteran member of the project, is also trying to re-inspire other members of the group by organizing a full moon get together:

Quiero invitarlos para que nuevamente le rindamos homenaje a la misteriosa dama de la noche. En vista de la gran acogida que tuvieron los plenilunios y siendo estos una buena forma de integración para el grupo, he tomado la decisión de realizarlos como lo veníamos haciendo cada mes. La cita será el próximo domingo 8 de febrero a las 4:30 p.m. en la biblioteca Pública Piloto filial La Loma. Los espero y ojalá lleven algún poema para leer. También cantaremos y esperamos agregar a nuestro repertorio nuevas canciones.

I want to invite you all once again to pay tribute to the mysterious lady of the night. Given the positive reception to the full moon get-togethers, and that it is such a good way to bring the group closer together, I have decided to organize them once again like we had been doing every month. The meeting will be on Sunday February 8 at 4:30 pm at the library. I'll be waiting for you, and hopefully you'll bring some poem to read. We will also sing and hopefully add new songs to our repertoire.

You can get to know Carmen better – and discover how she came up with the idea of full moon get-togethers – in the following video from May, 2008:


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