We will engage children and parents of the primarily Roma Kotva Housing project in Banska-Bystrica, Slovakia and the primarily African American South Park Housing project in Charleston, WV in an exchange of art, photos and reflection on their economically, geographically and politically marginalized communities. Content will grow from 6 week summer youth programs and parent support groups that will plan via skype and post on a common web page.
What locality or neighborhood will your project focus on?
Banska-Bystrica and Charlston, WV
Describe the specific community with whom you will be working.
Kotva’s 25 familes live in barracks of a former prison where police have a shooting range, holding target practice all hours of the day. South Park’s 80 households, live on a road on the way to the city dump that begins with a one lane tunnel under a railroad line. Both are hidden from their own cities, let alone larger circles the web could engage. We support them as they voice their dreams, concerns and seek allies to pursue their rights.
What kinds of news, stories and other content will be created?
Images and essays on personal identity, community strengths, and community heroes will challenge stereotypes of Roma “laziness” and US “welfare culture.” Both communities are isolated and without a voice. Reflections on challenges (from having bars on your home in Kotva to South Park residents being told to “fend for themselves” after power loss from the derecho storm) will bring unheard voices to each other and the public square.
What technologies and digital tools do you plan to use in the trainings?
Drawings and photos of community strengths and challenges – shared via web and discussed via skype
Describe the connections that you or your organization have already established that will contribute to the success of the project.
These include the new Banska-Bystrica/Charleston Sister City Alliance, and cross country exchanges of the Charleston NGO director that sponsors it, the project manager of Kotva, and a local Roma leader, through a US State Dept project on organizing in minority communities. Both sites have sponsored story and video work, support year round after school and summer programs, have university art and technology volunteers, and existing parent groups.
How many participants do you think will be involved in your project?
We anticipate training 15 to 20 youth and five adults from each community. We have an ongoing structure of four day/week after school programs and full time summer enrichment programs from which we will draw project participants and sustain their participation. The South Park Circle of Parents (parent led support groups) provides an ongoing context for parent engagement. Kotva has a less formal set up but staff and volunteers work with families.
Besides the microgrant funding, what other resources and support are you seeking for your project to ensure its success?
Step by Step has networks for donated art supplies and digital cameras, staffing through university volunteers and US summer VISTAs. We seek kindred spirits that have attempted similar projects to provide examples of communities augmenting their voice through the web as well as tips on best practices for posting and archiving work. Kotva has initiated similar efforts. Step by Step is helping to expand these practices in Slovakia.
Centrum komunitného organizovania (Center for Community Organizing)-Slovakia and Step by Step (US)