The project will train 10 low income psychiatric survivors to document and share their stories of growing and eating healthy food via urban agriculture work opportunities in local community gardens. The project supports an ongoing community collaboration to create a food security model and economic development tool relevant to the low income community of west end Toronto/ Canada. Project participants will: learn new skills to produce and share online stories (in video form), mentor the video production efforts of others and document the personal discoveries / benefits of their experience.
What locality or neighborhood will your project focus on?
Describe the specific population with whom you will be working.
The project serves people living with poverty, homelessness, discrimination and mental health barriers. Participants will be recruited from the Parkdale Activity-Recreation Centre (PARC) community. PARC is a mental health agency providing: community outreach, housing, a drop-in centre and a food service.
This project has been developed by a PARC Ambassador. Ambassadors are peer leaders who use personal stories to raise anti-oppression awareness. In 2013 Ambassadors piloted a program offering urban agriculture employment as the means for low income people to access healthy food and food literacy. This project will document that work.
Most PARC members face computer literacy barriers. PARC has a computer room with internet. This project will support creative use of this resource.
Who else will be on your team to help implement the project?
Project Facilitator: Eugene Hennie is a PARC Ambassador who will coordinate PARC Ambassadors. Eugene came to PARC in 2011. He has found housing, work and community through PARC. Eugene regularly speaks on behalf of PARC’s ability to transform lives at public events. He spent the summer of 2013 documenting his Ambassador experience using his cell phone; see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B56laufJzgs
PARC Volunteers: Sonya Allin (sonyaallin.com) and Eric Allin (ereallinvisuals.com) are a PARC volunteers who will lead workshops. Eric was the technical director of a community television station in Madison (www.wyou.org). Sonya is a Parkdale resident and technology consultant who has been teaching basic internet skills to PARC members, including blogging skills, for the past two years.
What kinds of news, stories and other content will be created?
Participants will make a short video documenting their activities over the spring / summer and fall of 2014. Some participants will want to produce overviews of their activities (as Eugene has done). Others may want to produce videos that document specific food growing skills: how to compost / plant / maintain, harvest and use locally-grown produce. Personal Change: Participants will create video narratives relating the personal benefits experienced through their relationship with food growing activities. These may explore: quality of life, personal health, emotional impact, knowledge gain and personal identity. Citizen Media Output: This project will use video story telling as a social change tool. Potential applications: fund-raising and public education.
What technologies and digital tools do you plan to use in the trainings?
Describe the connections that you or your organization have already established or plan to establish that will contribute to the success of the project.
Our partners in this project are: 1) The West End Food Co-op (WEFC), which operates a Farmers’ Market and a store selling local food and 2) Greenest City, which provides land and food growing opportunities for low income people. For this project PARC will provide computer space, equipment and project participant support. PARC will enrol participants in a Co-op Credit program; this uses an “alternative currency” to employ low income people and support purchases of healthy, local food. Since no real currency changes hands, people who are living on social assistance benefits are not penalized for this alternative income. Greenest City will provide urban agriculture / Co-op Credit placements for participants. WEFC will enable participants to make Co-op Credit purchases of local produce.
How many participants do you think will be trained in your project?
We’ll directly train 10 individuals. To train them, the three organizers of the project (EH, SA, EA) will run weekly workshops during which time the skills required to document what Ambassadors are doing in the community will be covered.
At the close of the workshops, we’ll recruit two or three participants to train other Ambassadors in future workshops. Assuming continued funding, these individuals will be able to train another 10 to 15 individuals in the following year.
Describe which technologies, tools, and media you will focus on when training participants.
Participants will document their work using digital video, photography and blogs. Individuals who don’t have access to a cell phone with a camera will borrow cameras to be purchased for the project or cameras of volunteers. Material will be placed on participants’ blogs as it is gathered.
Given raw material, workshops will focus on summarizing collected media. This will involve editing video, discussing it in groups and drafting scripts. Summaries will be created using free copies of Microsoft Movie Maker on PARC PCs.
Eugene Hennie, the project organizer (and Ambassador) has produced a video that he has shown at a few PARC events. This video was produced using the camera on his cell phone and the limited computer equipment that is available at PARC (i.e. Movie Maker, PARC PCs).
Describe the facilities where you will hold the workshops.
Workshops will take place in the drop in center of the Parkdale Activity and Recreation center in Parkdale, Toronto. The computer room in this center contains 12 PC computers and can hold up to 20 individuals at one time. All computers in the room have high speed internet access.
Blogs will be located on wordpress.com and updated through PARC’s copies of Internet Explorer. Videos and photographs will be edited using Microsoft Movie Maker.
What is your current relationship with the community with whom you plan to work? What makes you the most appropriate individual or organization to implement this project?
Eugene Hennie is a member of the PARC Community and PARC Ambassador. As an Ambassador he has worked in the West End Food Co-Op, at WEFC's Farmer’s Market, and in the Greenest City Gardens earning Co-op Credits. He is currently supporting expansion of the program and is well placed to work with participants.
Sonya is a Parkdale resident who lives about a block away from PARC. She’s a technology expert and has been a volunteer at PARC. She is familiar to the community as a computer literacy tutor.
The resources that are produced as a result of this workshop will remain with PARC so that PARC can use them as educational and outreach tools. We’ll also encourage Greenest City and the WEFC to use the material on websites at fundraisers and in the community as teaching tools.
What specific challenges do you expect to face when planning and implementing your project?
We expect that some participants will produce a lot of documentation, and some that won’t. We’ll try to overcome this obstacle by encouraging participants to mentor one another or to jointly produce material when needed. We can also record videos during workshops to supplement material.
Some participants may prefer to document their experience using tools other than video. We’ll try to transform whatever documentation they create into video narratives. This may mean video-taping poetry readings, for example, or documenting drawings.
We’ll also be limited by time. If some participants lack documentation of the growing season, we’ll document the food security activities they work on in the fall. Ambassadors work at the Co-op and help with peer education efforts about nutrition.
How will you measure and evaluate the project’s impact, specifically: your primary participants, the wider regional community, or the global digital community?
Primary Participants: Success will be 10 blogs and short videos documenting urban agriculture from 10 PARC members that can be broadly shared on the internet and during screenings.
Regional Community: 5 screenings of completed videos will take place in the community at: the West End Food Coop, PARC, Greenest City and members of the Toronto drop in network. The Toronto drop in network is a coalition of drop-in centers in Toronto that serve poor people. Program participants will attend each screening to discuss about security’s role in community change and to engage new participants.
Global Digital Community: We’ll track visitors to each blog and video using Google Analytics. We’ll disseminate work to other food security organizations so that they may benefit from PARC experience.
If your project were to be selected as a Rising Voices grantee, what would be the general timeline of project activities in 2014?
May: Introduction to the project / orientation of project participants
June-August: Documentation and weekly workshops to cover:
Recording and transferring digital imagery using various devices
Tools to share videos via social media: YouTube, Facebook, Vine
September: Gathering of final material (related to harvests)
October – December: Editing of Documentation and weekly workshops to cover
Group sharing of collected materials
Script assembly and presentation
Basic editorial skills, using Microsoft Movie Maker
Audio voice-overs and music
January: First cuts of videos completed
March: Second cuts of videos completed
March/April 2015: Screenings of completed films, to be coordinated with recruiting of PARC Ambassadors for 2015
Detail a specific budget of up to $2,500 USD for operating costs.
Honoraria for PARC participants: $100.00 for each of 10 participants ($1000)
Honoraria for PARC Ambassador Project Lead (EH): $500.00
2 hand-held digital cameras for community use: $250/each x 2 ($500)
Refreshments and outreach for screenings:
5 community screenings x $50 for refreshments x $25 for poster printing ($375)
Besides the microgrant funding, what other support can Rising Voices provide for your project to ensure its success?
Rising Voices can help us by sharing details of this project with its network as broadly as possible. They could also link us to other initiatives that are using similar tools or have a similar perspective, so that we could potentially share resources or collaborate. It would be great to document and dialogue about urban gardening initiatives in poor urban neighborhoods around the world; Rising Voices could help us to facilitate this kind of thing.
The Parkdale Activity – Recreation Centre