Medelink Contacts

One of the great things about going to Medelink was the networking possibilities. Today I went to a meeting with a Rotaract group, interested in having us give workshops at a school they’ve been working with on a rural area outside of Caldas, to the south of Medellín. It´s great to meet other young people interested in making changes in society, who do community service and who see it as a natural extension of a well rounded human being.  They were very attentive as I told them about HiperBarrio and the changes it has wrought not only on the participants but also on the communities.

The tentative date to start blog workshops at this school depends on when they´ll have their computer room completely established at the school. When this part of the program kicks off, it will signify the second stage of Hiperbarrio: ex beneficiaries will go to other communities and train other young people in citizen media, and they´ll even get paid a symbolic amount for their work.

We believe new participants will get a lot more motivated if they see that there is a tangible economic benefit in learning these new citizen media tools. It will perhaps provide the extra push to get them to buy into collaboration and writing to share, and forego the drop out rates we´ve seen happen in other projects. If they see youth like them, with similar backgrounds and who started off at the same level of computer knowledge  giving them the course material and getting paid… they´ll be able to model themselves after them, and get excited about their stories. It will also benefit the past participants who will be able to share their knowledge and experiences. It’s a win-win situation.

We will be meeting with the school’s principal after Easter break. The idea is that he’ll sit in one of the new Caldas workshops we’ll be starting this week to see what it is exactly that we plan to do at his school. From what I’ve been told, he sounds very much like our Hiperbarrio La Loma Librarian… someone giving, dedicated, hardworking and who cares about the community where he works. The principal has mentioned that he is interested in having the new computer lab at school open on weekends and after school so students and community members can use them and internet services: I can picture the future Salinas-Caldas participants working on weekends at the computer lab, blogging and writing and teaching others.  If it works out, then it will spread to other rotaract clubs in other areas of the Medellin Metro area. It’s great to see this project start walking on its own two feet into sustainability.

Closing Ceremony for Hiperbarrio 2007

On December 18th 2007, our Hiperbarrio closing ceremony took place. We got together at the auditorium in the Library Park Presbítero José Luis Arroyave in San Javier. Gathered were both teams of coordinators from the two Hiperbarrio proyects in the city of Medellín: the one in La Loma de San Javier and the ones in Santo Domingo.

The Library Network, who arranged for us to have the auditorium and the VideoBeam were present, and Dr. Piedad Aguilar, who directs the Library Network spoke at the beginning of the event to show her admiration for the work that has been done. David Sasaki, one of our biggest fans, who also happens to be Director of Outreach for Rising Voices, the organization that fathered our project and supports us through a micro-grant was also present. Global Voices author Eduardo Ávila, who runs the Voces Bolivianas Rising Voices project in Bolivia was also present.

We had slideshow presentations with pictures that the participants took as well as videos and multimedia presentations of the work that was done during the whole process of new media technology training.

As the evening progressed, both participants and organizers started talking about the project, their experiences, and the steps that should be taken into the future, speaking out about weaknesses in the projects and dreaming about what we would like to see in the future. The main problems mentioned were technical issues like internet connection speed and the lack of a stable connection when we work. Some participants who went to the Santo Domingo workshops from afar mentioned transportation costs as one of the problems.
Milthon from La Loma and Alejandra from Santo Domingo
Milthon, a La Loma participant who writes in his blog Helelbensahar, as Akenaton, presented us with an entertaining clown sketch. In the picture, he can be seen joking around with Alejandra. After that we all had some refreshments and milled around, later moving the casual conversations outside to continue talking after the library closed.

Edit: Please view our Hiperbarrio.org article in Spanish, with different pictures of the event, kindly taken by David Sasaki.

On the web: Hiperbarrio: blogging and video from the neighborhood

Thanks to  Itzpapalotl who wrote an amazing article summing up our activities, it is also posted on her English blog:

Great news at Hiperbarrio this week: the English weblog is back online after sorting out the problems generated by a WordPress update. Now Juliana is dutifully translating all Spanish posts into English. If you’re not very familiar with Hiperbarrio, this is your chance to go back and read some of the project achievements to date:

“According to what we had planned on our Spanish wiki, participants would create a googlereader account to read feeds, they would go out to the neighborhood and take pictures and open a flicker account with which we would work on uploading pictures from the cameras to the computers and then to the web.” First group session.

“It is already August 25th, our second workshop and we started off strong. In this meeting each participant created their own blog with a few simple instructions. Every participant had to open a gmail-blogger account. During this process they learned to copy and paste hyperlinks and upload pictures on each blog.” Second workshop.

The new bloggers have already started posting content despite their limited Internet connection. Andrea, one of the participants who works in social projects and social development, wrote about her experiences with Solar Eco-terraces in the neighborhood:

“There are wonderful individuals with hope, with an idea that persists and shows how important is not what others do, but what I can do; that politicians are not the ones that change a country but its citizens; that the world today is not black or white, that is full of colours and that many things can be accomplished when there are dreams and people who are willing to make them a reality” Mi trabajo en Santo Domingo [Es]

Almar recently re-posted a very complete summary of the project objectives and development. He also pointed us to the first project podcasts, divided in Part 1 and Part 2. We’re looking forward to the next edition, but in the meantime, a little philosophy behind all this:

“We believe in blogs, in Creative commons, in finding simple solutions to common problems, in knowledge sharing, in social and personal growth by appropriating common spaces such as neighbourhoods and public libraries” Hiperrbario [Es]

In one of the latest English language posts, Juliana showcased The Radiocicleta project:

“There´s a special bicycle moving around Belén de los Andaquíes in Caquetá, Colombia. It seats two and carries with it a complete radio broadcasting system, able to send out Wi-max signals and be heard not only through the Andaquí Community Radio, but live through Internet as well.” La Radiocicleta.

Galo tells us how they’re starting to experiment with video at the Cultural week in the Fe y Alegría Santo Domingo School. They have posted a selection of clips showing the participant’s dancing moves. In one of the videos you can see the very colourful ballgowns made out of recycled materials.

The project team is only learning basic video editing but they’re already prolific photographers. They even exceeded their flickr account capacity! Go ahead and take a look at those pictures.

Rising Voices Seeks Micro-Grant Proposals for Blog Outreach

HiperBarrio is a grantee of the first round of Rising Voices Micro Grants, you can also be a part of this global effort to get more voices added to this worldwide conversation. Originally posted in Global Voices Online.

Application Deadline: November 30, 2007

Rising Voices, the outreach arm of Global Voices, is now accepting project proposals for the second round of microgrant funding of up to $5,000 for citizen media outreach projects. Ideal applicants will present innovative and detailed proposals to teach citizen media techniques to communities that are poorly positioned to discover and take advantage of tools like blogging, video-blogging, and podcasting on their own.

In July we funded five projects out of the 142 applications we received from over 60 different countries. The first five Rising Voices grantees are based in Bangladesh, Colombia, Bolivia, India, and Sierra Leone. You can view their applications by clicking on the relevant links underneath the sub-heading “Grantees” in the sidebar of the Rising Voices wiki.

Rising Voices aims to help bring new voices from new communities and speaking new languages to the conversational web, by providing resources and funding to local groups reaching out to underrepresented communities. Examples of potential projects include:

  • Convincing a group of taggers or graffiti artists to transfer their medium of expression from walls of buildings to blogs, podcasts, and online video.
  • Approaching a local NGO with the offer of training their participants to blog and upload video in order to document the NGO’s work and the community where the participants live.
  • Distribute $10 digital cameras to two different groups of the same community and create a Flickr group where they confront each other’s photographic perspectives of their city.
  • Distribute mp3 recorders to participants of a youth group and help them produce monthly audio documentaries featuring elders who describe how their community has changed over the decades.

This second round of funding differs from the first in one important aspect. You have the choice to submit your application via email as before or you can publicly post your proposal on our wiki and receive feedback on how it can be improved. Public applications can be posted on the wiki at any time and can be reworked as often as the applicant sees fit, but all applications must be finalized by the November 30 deadline.

Rising Voices outreach grants will range from $1,000 to $5,000. Please be as thoughtful, specific, and realistic as possible when drafting your budgets. Successful projects will be prominently featured on Global Voices.

To learn how to apply using the wiki you can view the screencast below or visit the instruction page on the wiki. If you would like to submit your proposal privately via email you may do so by downloading the application and emailing it to outreach@globalvoicesonline.org by November 30. No late applications will be accepted.

Download grant application in .DOC format
Download grant application in .RTF format

Rising Voices Screencast

Colombia: The Radiocicleta, the Children’s Audiovisual School and community development

RadiocicletaThere´s a special bicycle moving around Belén de los Andaquíes in Caquetá, Colombia. It seats two and carries with it a complete radio broadcasting system, able to send out Wi-max signals and be heard not only through the Andaquí Community Radio, but live through Internet as well. This Radiocicleta[ES] (a portmanteau formed by the word radio and bicycle in Spanish) is part of a 10 year long community communication project meant to unite the diverse population of Belén de los Andaquíes which is composed largely by families running away from violence in their hometowns and neighboring regions, who stopped once they reached this safer haven they could call home.

Blanco Alirio González, the mastermind behind the Andaquí Communication Center and the Radiobike is aware that in communities where there are basic needs that still need to be fulfilled, technology has a tough battle to wage:

Es claro que en el proyecto de comunicación, el uso de las TICs deben aportar a la búsqueda de soluciones a esas necesidades básicas, nuestra pelea no es la sostenibilidad del centro de comunicación, o de la emisora, de la biblioteca o del telecentro, nuestra pelea es la sostenibilidad de nuestra cultura, el derecho a vivir en forma digna en un territorio lleno de riquezas que se disputan gentes de afuera y que son la madre de nuestros desarraigos, violencias y miserias.

It is clear that within this communication Project, the use of new information technologies has to bring solutions to these basic needs, our fight isn´t the sustainability of the communication center, or the station, or the library or the telecenter, our fight is for the sustainability of our culture, our right to live with pride in a territory full of wealth which is disputed by outsiders and that are the mother to our rootlessness, violence and misery.

Based on these ideals, the Community Radio of Andaquí was built to communicate the community with itself, to give them voices and an identity. One of the ways to get more people involved was to break down the walls between the studio and the town itself. Thus the Radiocicleta was born. This radiobike is a prime example of how they live up to their ideals: it is sustainable, it is cheap to maintain, it is environmentally sound, it is human instead of fuel powered, it allows for innovation and investigation, it can reach many different places and can be brought inside homes and it brings people together, working as members of a team: bike rider, speaker, audio operator in the cabin and the community at any event they are covering depend on each other for success.

This radiobike was only the beginning: once they were connected to Internet and had the tools to communicate with the rest of the world, they had to solve the issue of educating all Belemites in the use of these new technologies, while concentrating on the basics: they not only have the library and telecenter, but they also have a community vegetable garden and a media school for kids: at the Escuela Audiovisual Infantil, children can learn how to use technology and make a living from it.

La Escuela Audiovisual Infantil, está orientada a dar visibilidad a los niños de Belén de los Andaquíes, con quienes se busca “Contar lo que hacemos para descubrir hacia donde vamos”. Niñas y niños, desde los 8 años de edad, imaginan, escriben, dibujan, actúan, toman fotografías digitales, graban el audio, animan y editan en computador, historias de dos minutos de duración, en las que muestran las entrañas de sus vidas familiares y callejeras.

The Children’s Audiovisual School is oriented to give visibility to the children of Belén de los Andaquíes, through which they seek to “Tell what we do to discover where we´re going”. Boys and girls older than eight imagine, write, draw, act, take digital pictures, record audio, animate and edit using a computer their two minute long stories, where they show the innards of their family and street lives.

You can see the Children´s AudioVisual school´s pictures in flickr and videos on youtube. Currently, the children have started their own micro-business, and they are getting paid to train others and produce videos for clients such as UNESCO and CINEP.

[Other sources: La Nación , esfera pública and SiPaz ]