Day One in Bow Bazaar: The Session

Yesterday (Monday, November 26th 07), marked Session 1 of Neighbourhood Diaries in Bow Bazaar Neighborhood in partnership with local NGO Sanlaap.

Venue: Bow Bazaar Highschool

Time: Mondays, 6:00 – 8:00pm

Participants: 15 youth residents in Bow Bazaar

November 26th, 2007

Session 1: Understanding Neighbourhood Stereotypes

The Need for Neighborhood Journalism. To understand how it is important to re-write and re-tell your neighborhood’s narrative.

Activity: Understanding Assumptions and Hegemonic Narratives (30 minutes)

1. Divide the group in two groups. Give each group an, unlabelled photograph and ask them to collectively write a description of the image. Create a story behind the place – where is it, what happens there? What type of people live there? (10-15 min)

What are their 1st impressions?
What is happening in the picture?
What do these aspects of the picture tell us about the locality?
When people pass the place, what ideas do they form about it?

The two images are of New York city (an image of a socio-economicallydisadvantaged neighborhood) and Kolkata (a socially and economically upward) neighborhood.

2. Each group should read aloud their description and share their thought process behind their caption/description. (15 mins)
(Make a note of the exploratory questions that bring out better answers. As a facilitator, what are good questions to ask? Good eye contact, speak slowly and clearly)

3. Facilitators should then share the real facts of the images. Discuss at length the difference between the young people’s imagined stories and the real stories. How was our imagination informed? Where do we get certain ideas from about places, spaces, and people?

4. Discuss the phenomena of assumptions and stereotyping. How thought gets stuck at particular places. We do not ask, do not think of asking whether there is anything beneath the obvious assumptions about the place.


Your Neighborhood: Discussion and Activity on Stereotypes (30 minutes)

From a bigger scale let us now come down to our own paras/neighborhoods.
Just like we’ve realized the false/fragmented/skewed stories around different neighborhoods, how do you think other people think or imagine your personal neighborhood? What are the stereotypes surrounding your neighborhood?
Our thoughts often get stuck around some obvious things we see around, or some particular things that repeatedly surface on TV or in New York has highrises, this is true, but this is only one truth about New York. There are several other truths that we do not get to know. When a journalist comes to your para, what are the particular things he wants to cover/research more?

Collage Activity
Create a collective collage of images, sounds, words, smells about how the common person may interpret our neighborhood. Draw, Write, Cut and Paste.

What are the common assumptions surrounding our neighborhood? Talk and explain in images. What is missing in this collage? What Truths are being circulated? What Truths are beings silenced and ignored? What stories aren’t being told? If we knew more untold stories, what would that do? How would that change perceptions?

Conclusion: Explaining the Project, Neighbourhood Diaries
This is how the outsider sees Bow Bazaar . Do you think it is important to tell the stories of this neighborhood as an insider and resident? What are the ways in which you, an insider, see Bow Bazaar? We believe the best sources of knowledge are your minds, your eyes, your words. The best expert to tell neighborhood stories is you. In the coming 15 weeks we shall try to search and find out what the inside stories of Boubazar look like. And you will find out, not us. In this workshop you will work as a Neighborhood Journalist telling the story of your lanes, you homes, your neighbors.

Writing Activity
Can you tell us a story about your neighborhood, which only you know? It can be a moment only, or an incident you are not likely to forget. Have the participants write and share their story? After listening to the story, explore how it gives a new life, new dimensions to understanding their neighborhood — and thus how this story needs to be told?

Check Out
How was this session like? Good/bad/Okay?
How do you feel about participating in the coming sessions? 1 word.

6 thoughts on “Day One in Bow Bazaar: The Session

  1. This is a great summary of the first workshop. I’m really looking forward to learning more about the 15 participants. I couldn’t help but observe how much the physical process of the activity mirrors the mental process that many of us use when blogging (observe, reflect, cut, paste, and discuss.

    Will they be posting their stories about their neighborhood? Can’t wait to see what happens in the next workshop.

  2. I forgot to mention that Juliana Rincón, one of the leaders of the HiperBarrio project recently wrote a post on “place” in Medellin. It would be fascinating to see each of the Rising Voices grantees try this same exercise and share their stories with each other.

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