Rising Voices is pleased to announce the five winners of the 2013 microgrant competition for citizen media outreach projects. This year, we received 870 proposals for citizen media projects from 97 countries from around the world. This outpouring of interest continues to demonstrate the ongoing need for this type engagement of local underrepresented communities. It also shows that there are hundreds of individuals and organizations eager to help their local communities join the global online conversation through the use of citizen media. We were honored that they chose to share their ideas with the Rising Voices community.
This year marked a major change in the way that Rising Voices collected these proposals for sharing on a public platform designed to facilitate networking and peer exchange. Thanks to the new WordPress-supported site designed by Global Voices’ Code and Design chief Jeremy Clarke, we were able to offer a new website that published the proposal submitted by each applicant. Each applicant was given the option whether or not to display their proposal publicly.
After the proposal was categorized by geographic location, topic, and tools to be used in the trainings, the application was visually mapped as accurately as possible to show the location where the project would take place. Visitors to the website could then search the public proposals according to these different categories or by focusing on a particular place on the map. We were also pleased to see interaction in the comments section among the applicants, who also shared their ideas on social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook.
From this group of public and private proposals, our volunteers from the Global Voices community helped review and select 74 shortlisted candidates, who were then invited to submit a more detailed proposal for further consideration. After an additional round of review of these candidates, our selection committee chose five new grantees to be awarded a microgrant to implement their project. These new projects are diverse in their approach, and have demonstrated a commitment to work in their unique context. We are thrilled that they will join the Rising Voices community of grantee projects.
The five winners (in alphabetical order):
In Córdoba, Argentina, a local team of volunteers had been making regular visits to the public psychiatric hospital where they got to know many of the patients on a more personal level. They found that much of the external perception by the local community of those hospitalized at the facility was either incorrect or the result of stereotypes. From this experience, the volunteers and the patients decided to produce a weekly live radio program called “Radio Los Inestables” broadcasted from the hospital's outside patio and transmitted over a local radio station. The content ranges from serious topics such as exploring the relationship between mental health, poverty, and discrmination, to more light-hearted features in the form of radio theater or poetry readings. The project seeks to place more of the responsibility for managing the radio program into the hands of the patients by adding an online component where they can reach a national and global audience. The participants will learn how to record, edit, and upload audio podcasts, and manage the radio program's social media accounts to have regular interaction with listeners around the world.
For the past forty years, residents of the community of Denimanu on the isolated island of Yadua in Fiji have been committed in their efforts to protect the endangered Crested Iguana. These creatures have been threatened by external pressures and by climate change, making their protection much more urgent. The protection of the wildlife and the villagers’ traditional way of life has been one of the defining characteristics of the community's identity. However, due to the island's isolation some of these stories depicting the challenges, as well as the successes of these efforts have not been adequately told. Now the residents want to pass this passion for conservation along to the next generation with the hopes that they will continue this work. The National Trust of Fiji (NTF) will work in conjunction with the local community to train young villagers to tell this story through the use of digital video and photography. This digital imagery will showcase the unique biodiversity located on the island, and how the relationship between humans and nature is such an integral part of the community's past, present, and future.
Through a partnership with the Department of Geography at the Abdou Moumouni University in Niamey, Niger, students from the campus Geography Club will come together to form a Volunteer Technical Community (VTC) to discover the needs and the stories of their surrounding community. Using OpenStreetMap tools, the team will learn skills needed to take part in a collaborative open-source humanitarian mapping project. Once they learn these mapping and citizen media skills, the participants will set off around the capital city and surrounding rural villages to map key landmarks such as schools, streets, and hospitals. They will also use other forms of citizen media to link the objects that they map with the needs of these communities. By accompanying this mapping process through regular updates to the project's blog and Twitter and Facebook accounts, this map will come to life with the stories and realities of Niger.
Dizha Kieru (“Our Voice” in the Zapotec language) is a local community radio station located in the indigenous Zapotec village of Talea de Castro that sits in the Juarez mountains of Oaxaca, Mexico. The town owns and operates its own GSM mobile network that provides low-cost cellular service to the approximately 2,500 residents. The radio station, together with the organization Rhizomatica, will train local residents to become community news gatherers through in-person reporting or through collection via SMS or phone calls from citizens. The Dizha Kieru team, who run both the radio and GSM base-station will collect, synthesize, format, and send out the news reports to residents twice a day via mass SMS and posted online for emigrants living abroad via Twitter. The community mobile network will help reduce the costs for this form of news gathering and distribution, and can help enrich the dialogue between those in the community and the diaspora.
Bhutan is home to one of the youngest democracies in the world, when in 2008 it transitioned from an absolute to a constitutional monarchy. Since then, many organizations such as the Centre for Media and Democracy based in the capital city of Thimpu have been playing its part in helping citizens take a more active role in this new society. Through the establishment of local Media Clubs, the CMD has been providing citizen journalism workshops to college-aged youth giving them the opportunity to add their voice to the national debate and conversation related to these democratic changes. With this new project, the CMD plans to expand their reach by offering audio podcasting workshops to the communities of Samtse, Trongsa, Kanglung, and Paro. Much of the content created by these young podcasters will focus on the country's second-ever national elections and will be shared online and on local airwaves.
Over the next few weeks, we will be providing a more in-depth introduction to each of the new projects.
Even though this cycle of funding has been completed, our platform will remain available for the foreseeable future. We invite you to continue to explore the many ideas presented on the site, and reach out to those that share your interests or if you have a proposal for collaboration.
Please join us in congratulating and welcoming the five newest Rising Voices grantees.