Zair, Zabar, Pesh is based on developing understanding and promoting tolerance between individuals, groups & communities of various faiths, cultures & race. At present we have one audio-visual project based on Stereotypes, which we shot in Dubai last year and is now in post-production. This will be put out in the form of webisodes and run alongside an online advocacy campaign. The latter is going to be a series of curated programs /workshops/exhibitions under the title of “SouthAsian Sandooq”, which will seek to not only celebrate our common heritage but also address issues & promote dialogue.
What locality or neighborhood will your project focus on?
Dubai, UAE and later possibly in cities in India and/or Pakistan
Describe the specific population with whom you will be working.
For the “Stereotype Project”, since it has been shot in Dubai, on one level the target population will be the people of UAE because of the local context but we do want to run an online campaign on a larger and more general scale and so anyone to who the message reaches out. We will, however, focus on certain populations that we feel are probably mis-represented/understood and underrepresented in popular narrative. For ‘South Asian Sandooq”, the population focus in terms of content and target is by and large people of the region. For e.g, there are many who are not aware of initiatives in Nepal, have misconceptions about Pakistanis and so this will be a chance to create awareness about each other but also work on issues together. A significant chunk of S. Asians have internet access.
Who else will be on your team to help implement the project?
For the first project, an Editor will be brought on board to edit the footage for the “Stereotype Project” and put out as webisodes. Also, university students or others interested individuals (For e.g. these could be students of Media, History, and Anthropology) will be hired to run the online media campaign. Similarly, interested individuals/students will brought on board to organise curated evenings alongside me, put together relevant workshops and other programming.
As of now, I am the only one running Aleph Collective and my work can be seen on www.facebook.com/AlephCollective , http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I56_WkpbcUU&list=PLo3Co2PnrfZFtLdwKVaK5MXIc05Sr2F_C (and other videos under http://www.youtube.com/user/AlephCollectice) and tanyadaud.tumblr.com/about.
What kinds of news, stories and other content will be created?
One of the things that I plan to feature as part of the campaign is to ask citizens to send in self portraits of themselves (or take photographs of them) along with a small bio on them. For e.g, a blue-collar worker who has won an English language scholarship with the aid of a local organisation and now has a chance to better his condition, a Filipina service worker whose daughter won an international beauty pageant. Another is to have conversations online on particular issue and ask them to submit videos within their local context. Issue based conversations will also be done for South Asia. Citizens will be asked to submit audio-visual content that dispels stereotypes and/or provide solutions for e.g. This can and will also be translated into physical workshops and curated programming.
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.
As part of Aleph Collective and even otherwise, I have established connections with certain local artists and initiatives within the UAE. Some of these are an Emirati book-reading initiative called The Book Shelter, another called, Adopt-a-Camp, which works with over 52,000 labourers in the UAE and a number of musicians, spoken-word artists and others. I feel working with for e.g, Adopt-a-Camp in both contexts (Stereotype Project and SouthAsian Sandooq) will result in interesting content as part of the online campaign as well as for our curated evenings and workshops. I am also in touch and reaching out to initiatives/individuals and artists in other countries that can contribute for e.g Mobeen Ansari, a photographer based in Pakistan & Emirati-Syrian filmmaker, Amal Al Agroobi in the UAE.
How many participants do you think will be trained in your project?
Initially, the project will train the people involved in putting it out, which is the core team working on the online campaign team as well as the curated programming and workshops. However, given the nature of the project and its intent, it is meant to reach out to the community at large. While, I can't give a number, it will reach out to the people and create awareness amongst those who will attend the curated programming and workshops (for e.g, the South Asian community in UAE), as well as those interacting with us online, and hopefully have a ripple effect, whether it be via word of mouth or through viral audio-visual content.
Describe which technologies, tools, and media you will focus on when training participants.
Our primary tools online are going to be images, videos, podcasts, conversations in a forum like environment such as Twitter. However, to have a larger and more definitive impact, we will seek to partner and/or collaborate with other individuals/initiatives/organisations that can help us further our goals, whether in a workshop or as part of a curated program. We will also try and implement tools such as storytelling, dramatics, spoken-word and other means in a physical environment so as to reach more people with our message. I am a Freelance Journalist and so have contacts in media and a sense of the tools used as a medium apart from having experience as a Project Organiser previously. My partners, will assist with more technical know how and logistical help apart from creative input.
Describe the facilities where you will hold the workshops.
Because our workshops and curated programming will be varied in nature, there is no one particular space wherein the above will be held. However, a few spaces have been shortlisted so as to hold these community events. One is a studio like space, which will able to accomodate 30-40 individuals in one go. Whilst the other is a community based space called, The Archive, which is an open-air space in a park that can be booked from time to time if the programming matches their criteria.
Spaces will need to be looked for, if and when we travel to India and Pakistan.
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?
As a Muslim, woman and half-Pakistani/even S. Asian, I have come across stereotypes that are frustrating and so I felt the need to start these projects and reach out in order to not only dispel stereotypes about ourselves but also challenge our notions of the other, to initiate dialogue where I think there's a need and create a better sense of understanding. I feel my initiative and I are appropriate because this is one of the core components of Aleph Collective's being. I am not sympathising here. I feel strongly about the above because it stems from a sense of empathy, of identification and understanding. My hope in the long run is to involve the larger South Asian or faith/class based communities and take these programs into their surroundings as well develop more based on local context
What specific challenges do you expect to face when planning and implementing your project?
I think challenges will arise more at the implementation level. Logistics can be an issue due to a lack of funding or getting permissions for a particular space to conduct an event/workshop. By and large, the latter can be handled because we already have two spaces narrowed down within Dubai. However, putting these together in Pakistan and India might be a bit of hassle, not just logistically but possibly taking into account security concerns, concerns with regards to the content that some people might be a bit sensitive about.
We will look at feasibility and security both when implementing this in the said countries and try to do work in a secure environment as well as take into account the sensitivities of the place. However, having said that, also keep in mind the larger goal.
How will you measure and evaluate the project’s impact, specifically: your primary participants, the wider regional community, or the global digital community?
I think for me success will be determined based on the feedback we receive from the community. If they feel, our two initiatives under Zair, Zabar, Pesh have helped challenge some notions, look at someone in a different light, maybe develop a more accepting stance towards an individual or community then that will be a measure of success for us as a team. If this is something that people or groups will want to be a part of or ask us to do so else where, then too as well. It will also be an indication if we expand on these steps further and can develop the capacity to do more as planned.
If your project were to be selected as a Rising Voices grantee, what would be the general timeline of project activities in 2014?
June 2014 onwards to hopefully in the year 2015 as well.
Detail a specific budget of up to $2,500 USD for operating costs.
Editing – $500
Miscellaneous expenses (material, phone, equipment rental, in country travel) – $500
Travel – $1000
Others – $500
Besides the microgrant funding, what other support can Rising Voices provide for your project to ensure its success?
I think Rising Voices can help us get in touch with important contacts within all 3 countries with regards to the said projects. My hope is to take South Asian Sandooq even beyond India and Pakistan (within South Asia) and so provide contacts and logistical support/connect in all places if possible. Possibly help spread the word about this project and our efforts online. Provide digital support where we are lacking.