We will equip and train Guatemalan Maya migrants in New Bedford to use digital video and audio to record their own and others’ memories about the Guatemalan genocide and postwar violence, and also experiences of migration to the U.S., including exploitative and unsafe working conditions and racially-motivated violence in New Bedford,. Selected stories will be edited and uploaded onto a Youtube channel and shared on our website. This project will allow migrants to combat stereotypes and marginalization, and is part of our campaign to secure dignity and justice at work and in the community.
What locality or neighborhood will your project focus on?
New Bedford, Massachusetts
Describe the specific population with whom you will be working.
We are a membership organization run by migrant workers, mostly undocumented Central Americans. The majority are Guatemalan Maya. This project emerges from our ongoing work, especially a campaign about violent assaults against migrants, and community members participated in all steps of proposal development. After being invisible and marginalized in both Guatemala and here, we need to tell our stories, and make our presence known. Talking about the genocide helps people understand why we are in the U.S. As Maya, we are tired of having other people control how we are represented. Levels of computer literacy vary widely, but most migrants have smartphones and easily navigate applications like Facebook, Youtube and TuneIn
Who else will be on your team to help implement the project?
Lisa Maya Knauer, associate professor of anthropology at UMass Dartmouth. http://guatebuenaguatemaya.blogspot.com; Simon Ríos, journalist; Aliso de Tufo, Ashoka fellow and founder of the Threshold Collaborative, that helps people document their own lives. www.thresholdcollaborative.org; Andrea Klimt, professor of anthropology at UMassDartmouth, currently involved in a Photovoice project in Fall River (website will not be ready until June or July 2014). Mary Beth Meehan, photojournalist.
What kinds of news, stories and other content will be created?
We will produce short video narratives and audio podcasts that document the kinds of stories rarely told by Maya migrants, and share them on YouTube, Vimeo, our own webpage and other venues. These will be first-person narratives, sometimes dialogues or small group discussions. Topics include: the armed conflict in Guatemala (witnessing, experiencing or hearing about torture, rape, massacres, armed attacks); why we leave home: poverty, discrimination and everyday violence in Guatemala; the migration journey and arrival in New Bedford; our lives in New Bedford: exploitation, discrimination, and unsafe working conditions, and our fight for dignity and justice; racially-motivated assaults in New Bedford; what Maya culture means to us and what is the legacy we give to our children.
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 allies in the labor, religious, social justice, educational and immigrants’ rights communities include the Coalition for Social Justice, United Interfaith Action, Fuerza Laboral, and several organizations at the Univ. of Massachusetts Dartmouth (UMD), including its Labor Center, Sociology, Visual & Performing Arts, Immigration Law Clinic and Chancellor’s Office, as well as individual faculty members, and also other nearby colleges. These will help ensure that people view the materials we post and some will provide technical support. Photojournalist Mary Beth Meehan did a recent photo essay on our community, and local reporter Simón Ríos will offer technical advice. We are developing a relationship with 3rd Eye Unlimited, a local non-profit that trains youth in video production.
How many participants do you think will be trained in your project?
We will train 12-15 in cohorts of 4-5. They will receive basic training in interviewing, storytelling, digital video and audio recording, and simple editing. Others will participate by telling their stories (approximately 20). Many have already expressed interest in learning how to make videos, especially younger members. Others who are genocide survivors, victims of assault, or exploitation in the U.S., or were in the 2007 Immigration raid, or some combination, have said that they now want to tell their stories. We have a sign-up list and will announce the project at meetings and on our website. We will have a simple application form and before training they will sign a commitment agreement. Frequent updates by participants at regular CCT meetings will ensure broad interest
Describe which technologies, tools, and media you will focus on when training participants.
We rely upon our partners for technical expertise. We will use a method similar to PhotoVoice. Participants will simultaneously learn to use digital cameras, DVRs and smartphones, how to do interviews and tell their own stories. All will learn basic video editing using open source platforms, and how to publish videos on platforms like Vimeo and YouTube. Those with limited computer skills will receive 1-on-1 basic instruction These are simple user-friendly tools widely used in grassroots communities. Lisa Maya Knauer from UMD has a background in documentary video, community radio and blogging and is an experienced interviewer. 3rd Eye staff and volunteers have extensive video training. Other partners have a range of skills including PhotoVoice, blogging, citizen journalism and digital video
Describe the facilities where you will hold the workshops.
CCT has approximately 1000 square feet of office and meeting space. It is conveniently located in the North End of New Bedford where many Maya migrants live. Our office is well known and we have regular meetings and workshops. We have tables, chairs and desks, one desktop computer, and one laptop used by the Executive Director. We have Verizon DSL and wifi. Current speed is approximately 1.0 mbps. The grant will help us upgrade our internet connection speed, and purchase laptops, cameras and external hard drives that will be dedicated exclusively to this project.
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?
CCT was founded by undocumented immigrant workers to challenge exploitation and discrimination in local workplaces and in the community. All our members, board and staff are immigrant workers, mostly undocumented, and mostly Maya, so we are part of the target community. Since we have won major settlements for workers, undocumented immigrants know and trust us. We have a track record, and a longterm commitment to the community. People come daily for help with not just with workplace issues but immigration, school, landlords. We have just created a website, and are exploring how to use social media to support our work. We have already established an interview protocol for cases that come to our office, and training workers to use their cell phones to document workplace abuses or assaults.
What specific challenges do you expect to face when planning and implementing your project?
Limited literacy and education. We will use few written materials and mostly demonstrations and hands-on practice.
Limited fluency in Spanish for K’iche’-speakers.
Limited computer/internet literacy. We will address the first three concerns by pairing those with greater skills in these areas, and those who have less.
Scheduling challenges: most immigrants work at low-wage jobs where they have little control over their schedule and supervisors can change their hours at will. We will adapt the time and frequency of training sessions as necessary.
Machismo: additional or separate sessions for women if necessary
Fear of deportation, reprisals against family in Guatemala: Learning how to mask interviewees’ identity allowing participants to decide whether and how to identify themselves
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: monthly project meetings to review and discuss the work, including participants’ comfort level with the technology (cameras, editing, uploading), the actual testimonials and reports produced and published, and offer feedback so that participants can improve their skills. Each cohort will evaluate its work throughout and a general evaluation in December as we think about moving into next phase.
Wider community: each video will be screened publicly at a regular CCT meeting for comments and feedback. We will track “likes” and comments when videos are posted on CCT’s Facebook page, and also how frequently videos are shared.
Global digital community: tracking views and shares on Youtube, Vimeo, CCT's website and Facebook page, repostings, retweets, comments
If your project were to be selected as a Rising Voices grantee, what would be the general timeline of project activities in 2014?
May: General meeting to discuss project, review training schedule; select 1st cohort; purchase equipment.
Jun-Nov: Monthly meeting to discuss project and update community, screen videos once available.
Jun-Jul: Training of first cohort. Week 1: why tell stories. Week 2: introduction to equipment. Week 3: Interview basics, practice, plan who to interview/record. Week 4: Record first testimonies. Week 5: review video and audio, introduction to editing and uploading. Weeks 6-7: edit. Week 8: review, group evaluation, upload best.
Mid-July: select 2nd cohort.
Aug-Dec: 1st cohort works in teams to record testimonials.
Aug-Sept: Train 2nd cohort (as above). Mid-Sept: select 3rd cohort.
Late Sept: Participants, CCT staff, trainers evaluate, discuss future plans. Start fundraising for next phase.
Oct-Nov: Train 3rd cohort. 1st and 2nd cohorts produce testimonials.
Dec: 3rd cohort starts to produce testimonials. Evaluate project with all participants. Celebration, prepare for next phrase
Detail a specific budget of up to $2,500 USD for operating costs.
2 laptop computers: $800
2 Portable hard drives: $100
4 Digital cameras with video capability: $1000
2 digital voice recorders: $80
Peripherals (tripods, batteries) $200
Upgrade wifi/DSL speed: $200
Besides the microgrant funding, what other support can Rising Voices provide for your project to ensure its success?
Helping us network with other organizations that either have a similar population (vulnerable migrants) or are engaged in a similar kind of project. Peer-to-peer sharing would be very valuable.
We would also like to learn from past projects — both challenges and successes. If any video projects have generated easy to use training materials or tips, especially in Spanish, that would be great
Centro Comunitario de Trabajadores