Thanks to the generous support of Avina Americas, Fundación Avina, and the Skoll Foundation, Rising Voices will be working directly with communities in the Amazon Region that want to tell their own story and participate more actively online through the use of a variety of digital media tools. Through a microgrant competition and a mentoring program, we will be funding and supporting up to six projects throughout the region helping them engage their own local communities in the use of digital citizen media, as a way to share what is important to them connecting with local, regional, and global networks.Deforestation, infrastructure projects with little to no prior consultation, and threats to unique cultural ways of life are just some of the challenges facing Amazon communities across South America. While the Amazon, a region that spans nine South American countries, has provided rich subject matter to academics, researchers, and traditional journalists, these important issues are also increasingly appearing in online citizen media and on social media. Yet, there are many more stories that are worth telling about and by the very communities that face these realities.
As we have seen in our own work at Rising Voices, citizen media tools provide the opportunity for local communities to share their own narrative through digital storytelling. These free and easy-to-use tools are widely available and allow ordinary citizens the opportunity to connect on a local, regional, and global level.
While it is true that many Amazon communities still lack the necessary communication infrastructure to fully participate online, there are more and more communities finding a way to connect to the Internet. Local NGOs, community libraries, and local cyber cafes have provided opportunities to residents to go online. In some places, mobile networks also allow for residents to access the internet on a wide variety of cellular devices. With this increase in digital content coming from this diverse region, there are still many more communities that want to take part in this online conversation.
Stay tuned next month for the official announcement of the launch of this microgrant competition, which will outline eligibility, guidelines, and the application process. We will share the information on our mailing list, Rising Voices blog, and our Twitter (@risingvoices) and Facebook accounts. In the meantime, if you are currently working for, from, or in the Amazon, and you are interested in taking part in this project or know communities that would be interested, please fill out this short informational form. We will notify you once the open call for proposals begins.