We have started at Caldas

Last week we had our first meeting with the youth group Diverseres, will be the next group which will become part of our network. Diverseres is a groups of young people from the Caldas municipality, located south of Medellin, about a 30 minute bus ride from the last metro station.
Calles de Caldas
Calle del Comercio – Municipio de Caldas

In this first encounter we mainly had a conversation about expectations and possibilities regarding the citizen media training process. We also left with them a video camera and a stills camera so they could register their impressions of the Easter Week, the reinterpretation of it, the new practices and their implications. For the next meeting, we will begin the training part of the workshop, working upon the audiovisual material they will have prepared for us.

Diverseres has been working for the past two years in topics geared to other young people like them in their community. Their work has been around raising awareness among the youth in their community regarding sexuality, drug addiction and ecology. Now, with the use of online tools they are expectant of being able to publish  online accounts of their activities, promote their efforts through the internet and extend the results to other youth groups in  their town.

During our first meeting we were immersed in friendly and enriching conversation which made us think of the great stories that might come from such a vital group. In the meantime, we are satisfied by the enthusiasm which we felt during the first meeting and excited to become a part of the lives of Juan David, Dalia, Carolina, Catalina, Miguel, Dilan, Jhonny, Germán and all the other kids who will be working along with HiperBarrio.

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.

January has been a busy month for Hiperbarrio

After the wonderful presentation up at la Loma de San Javier, many of the blog posts that the participants wrote were included in Equinoxio magazine, and David Sasaki also wrote about it, giving his firsthand account of what it was like to share the day with the people from La Loma, both participants, family and other community members. You can read that article by following this link.

This community presentation also opened other doors: la Redecom, the alternative media network has approached us and they´re interested in working with us to jumpstart the network and give the members proper citizen media training and a better online presence.

Participantes del taller en la Biblioteca Pública Piloto

Learning how to use flickr during the BPP workshop.

This week, David Sasaki, Director of Outreach for Global Voices, and the person behind Rising Voices, has been giving a couple of workshops in the Pilot Public Library. The first one, yesterday, had to do with opening a flickr account and uploading pictures, as well as joining groups, and David created one specifically for the workshop, adding notes, placing pictures on a map and commenting on other pictures. Today´s workshop will be a continuation of yesterday´s, where participants will learn how to edit pictures with picnik.Next week, we have two important meetings: on one with we will also meet with Medellín Digital, a government effort to improve computer literacy and to check out if we can participate in their annual fair in February, the other one is with Medelink, who organizes a yearly digital culture festival during March, and in which we hope to participate.

Hiperbarrio is growing, and it´s great to see how far we´ve come.