Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Communication Collective in Cauca creates video analysis of Plan Colombia

A video by Tejido de Comunicacion of ACIN, the Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca, Colombia, July 2008

Friday, August 29, 2008

Communique from the Our Media Conference in Ghana

We, academics, activists, artists and practitioners from 42 countries in six continents of the world, gathered at the OURMedia 7 conference in Accra, Ghana, from 11 to15 August 2008. We shared our work and pursued our ongoing dialogue on the achievements and challenges of our communities around the theme of "Identity, Inclusion and Innovation - Alternative Communication in a Globalized World."
OURMedia is an open, decentralized and non-hierarchical network created with the goal of bridging gaps and facilitating dialogue and collaboration among people like ourselves and the communities whose voices and experiences we seek to project. OURMedia 7 was the first time the network met in Africa since it was founded in 2001, the previous six conferences having been held in Washington, D.C.., USA; Barcelona, Spain; Barranquilla, Colombia; Porto Alegre, Brazil; Bangalore, India; and Sydney, Australia.
Together at OURMedia 7, we constructed a conference that strove to be in itself a mirror of alternative communication, not only reflecting through its content but also living out through its process the values of identity, inclusion and innovation.
OURMedia 7 highlighted the three sub-themes of Identity, Inclusion and Innovation as key dimensions of alternative communication in, for and towards an alternative world. The three sub-themes may be regarded as different faces of marginalization in a world where expression is becoming increasingly uniform, majorities are being excluded, and even exploited, and certain kinds of knowledge and experience are presented as having more value than others. At the same time, the assertion of identity, inclusion and innovation are the very sources of strength to overcome homogenization, exclusion and relegation.Interviewing for Radio Ada. Photo by Alfonso Gumucio Dagron
From the moment OURMedia 7 began and especially its opening invocation - a profound mix of poetry, oratory, song, drum and poignant bamboo flute (the atenteben) - we came to better understand and appreciate a world view overlooked or deliberately cast aside in a globalized world. A world view interconnected across time, rich in symbolism of image, rhythm and cadence, movement and flow, speech and silence. We were renewed and deepened by what we found. We realized even more how impoverished the globalized world being constructed by a few – with its packaged assumptions, assembly-line media and sound bites - has become.
We discussed vivid accounts of solid academic research, conscientious practice, or both, on alternative communication initiatives. These initiatives spanned the various parts of the world that we came from, from China to Australia to Turkey to Spain to Argentina to Guyana, to name only a few, and, of course, Africa. They covered a tremendous diversity, ranging from traditional media to new information and communication technologies: for example, indigenous symbols, street art, community theatre, community radio, film, and current new online media such as YouTube.
The accounts were often in the context of the different ways communities are violated – by endemic poverty, by the neglect of the state, by the outright or insidious take-over of corporate interests, by the indifference or sensationalism of the mainstream media, by armed conflict brought about by a combination of these and other factors. In every case, more powerful were the stories of how alternative communication, by enabling people to take control of the primary act of communication, defy even seemingly insurmountable obstacles to preserve and enrich what matters most to them as communities. In every case, what mattered was not the technology but the extent to which people, and especially those traditionally excluded, had equitable access to create through communication. Community Radio Worker who is Continuity Announcer at Radio ADA in Ghana
We celebrated the 10th anniversary of Radio Ada, a pioneer community radio station in Ghana, at a Community Radio Symposium on its home soil in Ada in the Dangme East District. We were honoured with a regal welcome from traditional custodians and leaders of its catchment area - chiefs and queenmothers and their elders in regalia. We engaged with some of the communities served by Radio Ada and found reaffirmation that our reason for being is in what we mean to our communities. DIALOGUE WITH RADIO ADAPhoto by Alfonso Gumucio Dagron
In dialogue with us through volunteer producers acting as interpreters, members of these communities reiterated the powerful sentiment in the video documentary shown on Radio Ada: "If you take Radio Ada away from us, we would lose our language, we would lose our culture, we would lose who we are." We were heartened that Radio Ada is but one of the living examples of participatory communication institutions within the Ghana Community Radio Network (GCRN) and indeed, within the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC).
We provided the forum for the Africa observance of the 25th anniversary of AMARC. We marked how AMARC has grown in those 25 years from a handful to over 4,000 Community Radio stations in 115 countries across the globe, many of them in Africa. The depth of the organization was evident in the workshops AMARC organized as part of OURMedia 7 on democratic legislation, women's empowerment and good governance, social impact assessment, and digitalization. A key element of the observance was a workshop of representative members to sharpen the vision for a Community Radio Network in Africa as part of the process of rebuilding AMARC Africa. Participants came out of the workshops with greater clarity, confidence and oneness of purpose, building a solid foundation for the renaissance of AMARC Africa.
OURMedia 7 deepened our respect even more for the tenacity and innovativeness of our communities in asserting their identity and their right to inclusion. At the same time, we were again made aware of the importance of empowering legislation and regulation. We heard about and joined with others worldwide in expressing solidarity with the newspaper Euskaldunon Egunkaria, from the evidence shut down since 2003 simply for keeping alive the language and culture of the Basque people. On a positive note, we applauded the agreement between GCRN and the national regulatory authority of Ghana on a development plan for approximately 100 Community Radio stations nationwide. We were also buoyed by news that the national regulatory authority of Uruguay had allocated a third of the frequency band to community media, including community television.
Being in Africa, we call especially on African governments to effect or consistently implement legislation that specifically addresses the needs of community media, thereby realizing the commitment made in their own declarations. We recall, in particular, the 1990 African Charter for Popular Participation in Development and Transformation (Arusha, Tanzania), the 2001 African Charter on Broadcasting (Windhoek, Namibia), the 2002 Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa of the Africa Commission on Human and People’s Rights (Banjul, The Gambia), and most recently the communiqué from the 2008 World Press Freedom Day (Maputo, Mozambique)..
In an inequitable world where technical and financial assistance can play a critical leveraging role, we also call on donors and aid organisations to recognize that the very process of communication is not only at the heart of development, but is itself development. We ask them to extend their active support to people-centred-and-led media and communication, not just as a means to development ends, but as an embodiment of true participation and sustainability. We urge them to develop their own communication policies and strategies in coherence with their willingness to support participatory and inclusive processes of social change.
Coming to a slice of Africa, experiencing firsthand its dynamism and challenges and joining it with the vigorous reality of alternative communication and media throughout the world, impacted deeply on all of us.
We call on each other:
· to keep alive the memory and experiences of OURMedia 7 to strengthen our resolve to facilitate the use of communication to build just, sustainable and genuinely democratic communities
· to work harder to foster dialogue and mutual learning across our great diversity and in specific fields, as for example, across the academic disciplines of communication and education
· to reinforce our support for each other and others everywhere in strengthening organic social movements invigorated by communication that embodies the values of Identity, Inclusion and Innovation
· in particular to contribute to the growth and expansion of our network, OURMedia, maintaining its horizontal structure and its democratic values.
Already, showing the vitality of our network, expressions of interest from other parts of the world have been raised to host our next conference, OURMedia 8. We look forward to another opportunity to learn about, celebrate and move forward the agenda of empowering people to assert and create their world through their media.Wilna and Alex Quarmyne, founder of Radio ADA. It was at Pacifica's Los Angeles affiliate – KPFK – that Alex Quarmyne, a young Ghanaian studying at the University of Southern California in the1960s, first gained experience working in community radio. Alex and his wife, Wilna – who was a community radio pioneer in her native Philippines – are the founders Radio Ada and the Ghana Community Radio Network.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Bread and Puppet Theater in Vermont 2008

The opening of the 2008 August 24 Circus in Glover Vermont.
Paul Zaloom is the Ring Master for the Zombie Olympics.This act looks at prisons as a solution to the economic difficulties of rural towns. With Bread and Puppet's veterans Paul Zaloom and John Bell.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Laser Grafitti Pioneer arrested in China

Media Contact: Joanna Raczkiewicz
212.937.6580 x233

No word from the American artist 24 hours after being taken into Chinese custody. Powderly was in Beijing to unveil a project made with pro-Tibet activist group

New York City, August 19, 2008, 7:30PM EST- Artist and Eyebeam alum James Powderly was detained by Chinese authorities in Beijing early Wednesday, according to a message received by Students for a Free Tibet around 5PM Beijing Standard Time, said an SFT spokesperson. The message, sent through the social networking site Twitter, read "held since 3AM", said friend and SFT board member Nathan Dorjee. Powderly has not been heard from since-more than 24 hours later-and his whereabouts remain unknown, he said.

"Freedom of speech has always been central to James' practice, and we support this commitment. Most importantly, we hope for his quick release," said Eyebeam Executive Director Amanda McDonald Crowley. Powderly was a fellow in Eyebeam's R&D OpenLab in 2005-2006, and a senior fellow in the OpenLab from 2006-2007.

Powderly is also co-founder of the Grafitti Research Lab, a project developed during his fellowship at Eyebeam. He was in Beijing collaborating with the activists to project messages onto the facades of prominent Beijing buildings using a laser beam and stencils. The artist was detained before the planned launch of the project-dubbed the "Green Chinese Lantern"-in which a beam of light would be used to display graphics and text on structures up to two stories high, said Dorjee. It is unclear how Chinese authorities learned of the plan.

Also today, five activists with Students for a Free Tibet were detained after displaying a banner that spelled out "Free Tibet" in LED Throwies, the open source technology pioneered by the Grafitti Research Lab and popularized online and worldwide. This brings the number of SFT protestors detained in Beijing to 42. In the majority of these cases, the individuals were heard from and deported within 6-12 hours of their arrest, said Dorjee. Upon learning of the detention, fellow artist, collaborator, and current Eyebeam senior fellow Steve Lambert said, "He's an amazing, entertaining, brilliant, and committed person. Not all of us have the courage to travel to China to make such a statement at a key time like this. He's a great friend and obviously, like so many others, I'm concerned about his well-being. I hope he's allowed to return home as soon as possible."

The L.A.S.E.R. Stencil technology is a modification of the GRL's L.A.S.E.R. Tag, which was featured in the 2007 Eyebeam exhibition Open City. This portable, updated version is the size of a flashlight, requires one person to operate, and is intended for use with homemade micro-stencils.

Students for a Free Tibet, a group with more than 700 chapters worldwide, has been staging protests in Beijing over the course of the past two weeks. According to Dorjee, who is also the group's technical advisor, GRL technology was an ideal fit for the spectacle of the Olympics, and called the GRL the "go-to group for open source urban expression".

For the latest information and images, please visit the website of Students for a Free Tibet:
Additional images for download:
The Grafitti Research Lab, with images made using the L.A.S.E.R. Stencil (in the US):
LED Throwies:

Additional coverage:
Boing Boing:

The Washington Post:"

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Bolivian Hip Hop as Instrument of Struggle

El Rap en Aymara: El Hip Hop Boliviano Como Instrumento de la Lucha

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Uruguay Reserves Spectrum for Community Media Sector

Uruguay, 12 de agosto de 2008
Uruguay reserva un tercio del espectro de TV Digital para el sector comunitario

La Unidad Reguladora de Servicios de Comunicación (URSEC) comunicó que se destinarán nueve canales de la banda de UHF para la prestación del servicio de televisión digital terrestre y abierta (TDT). Tres de ellos fueron reservados para la TV comunitaria, en un hecho sin precedentes en materia de acceso equitativo a los medios de comunicación (Ver resolución).
La reserva de un tercio de las frecuencias para medios comunitarios, en cualquiera de las bandas de radiodifusión, es una norma incluida en la Ley 18.232 de Radiodifusión Comunitaria (ver LEY) aprobada en diciembre de 2007.
Gustavo Gomez, AMARC

De los restantes canales para TDT, cuatro serán otorgados al sector privado comercial y dos para medios públicos. Actualmente transmiten cuatro canales de televisión abierta en el país: el estatal Televisión Nacional de Uruguay (TNU), y los privados Canal 4 Montecarlo, Canal 10 Saeta y Canal 12. Analistas estiman muy probable que a estos operadores se les otorgue un lugar en el nuevo espectro, por lo que la oferta de TV podría diversificarse con cinco nuevas emisoras, incluyendo las comunitarias.

La decisión del organismo regulador incluye la autorización a uno de los canales privados para realizar pruebas de TV digital, siempre que éstas sean de acceso abierto y gratuito. Las trasmisiones experimentales se podrán realizar durante un período de 180 días y no generarán "ningún derecho ni prioridad" para una futura asignación de un canal en la banda de UHF, tal como consta en la resolución.

El procedimiento para la asignación del uso de las frecuencias se realizará mediante un llamado a interesados del que se encargará la propia URSEC, organismo independiente del Poder Ejecutivo. Uruguay aún no ha resuelto si se abrirán procedimientos competitivos para los operadores privados comerciales o se otorgarán señales o canales "espejo" para los operadores de TV analógicos ya instalados.

Tampoco hay una decisión expresa respecto a la entrada de nuevos competidores en el mercado de TV abierta comercial, aunque esta decisión allana el camino para una mayor diversidad de medios.

Teniendo en cuenta que en octubre de 2009 se realizarán elecciones nacionales, el gobierno de Tabaré Vázquez deberá tomar una decisión muy pronto, ya que una ley aprobada durante esta administración impide que se otorguen frecuencias un año antes de las mismas, de manera de evitar que las concesiones sean utilizadas para obtener favores de cara a la instancia electoral como sucedió en anteriores gobiernos.

El procedimiento para los canales de TV comunitaria deberán serlo por concurso, abierto y público, de oposición y méritos, según lo establecido en la Ley de Radiodifusión Comunitaria.

Gustavo Gómez
Director Programa de Legislaciones y Derecho a la Comunicación AMARC-ALC

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Women's Radio in Jordan

AL-SHUNA, Jordan, August 6, 2008 (MENASSAT) – Asma' Raja and Munira al-Shatti knew they would face many obstacles when they banded together to form the Zahrat Al-Aghwar (Valley’s Flower) radio station in 2006.

There were no precedents anywhere in the Arab world for a women-run radio station. Zahrat Al-Aghwar was born at the 8th conference of the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters, held in Amman in 2006. It was there that the conference's hosts, Radio Balad / Ammannet, announced that they would help establish a women-run community radio in the Al-Shuna district in the Jordan Valley. The Jordan Valley is an agricultural area on the border with Israel. It is the lowest-lying area in the world and temperatures are extremely high in summer. It is also a region marked by high poverty and unemployment.

In this context, women's rights are often neglected in favor of clan traditions, including early marriage among girls. Part of the mission that Zahrat Al-Aghwar set for itself was to testify to gender-based rights abuse, and to empower the local women, many of whom are agricultural workers.

But the Jordanian government has delayed the launching of the station for nearly two years now by refusing to grant Zahrat Al-Aghwar a license. According to the Jordanian Audiovisual Commission, which is responsible for issuing licenses, "The delay is due to studies being made on the radio waves. We are coordinating with the Jordanian Commission for Regulating Communications to regulate this department because the station would be on the border with Israel, which demands extreme caution against interference with Israeli radio frequencies."

Asma' Raja and Munira al-Shatti have put the lost time to good use.
In November 2006, they joined other women in a training session organized by Radio Balad in order to learn the basics of radio broadcasting. Ever since, they have been going into the field to produce radio reports, some of which have been broadcast on Radio Balad. "The complications have just motivated us even more to make the voice of our society heard," Asma' Raja told MENASSAT.

'Our voice'
So while they are waiting for official approval to launch Sawt Al-Aghwar, they launched a radio program on Radio Balad under the same name. "The title is very symbolic for us because we live in an agricultural community far from the center of Jordan and it is an area that is neglected when it comes to social services. This program is our voice, and specifically the voice of the women."

The women also convinced a West Bank radio station, Bethlehem 2000, whose signal also covers the Jordan Valley, to broadcast their program. "When Bethlehem 2000 started broadcasting our program, we felt that our dream had come true, even if only partly," Raja said.

"What is important is to be heard in every household in the Valley. I'm happy that the heads of all the municipalities in the Valley listen to our program and even respond to our remarks. This has had a real impact on the women because they felt the media has finally reached the Valley, and what has been even more significant is the fact that it is the women who are speaking out."

The broadcast has created an influx of volunteers.
Zenat al-Hariri, a lawyer for the project and herself from the Valley, said, "When I first heard of the radio station, I anticipated many problems. But after I heard the first episode on Bethlehem 2000 radio, I decided to participate because I realized it was the only opportunity for me to become active in my community, and to help the girls transcend their traditional roles in society."

Girl ambitions
Mahmoud al-Shatti is a law graduate from the Jordan Valley. He attended a series of training sessions at Ammannet offices. "My participation is about supporting women and men in realizing the roles that all community members play in their society," he said.

Awra, a girl from Al-Shura, told MENASSAT, "We are in terrible need for a voice to express our feelings as girls living in a community ruled by old customs and traditions that sometimes hinder a girl's ambitions."

Another woman participating in the project, Khulood, said the rural Jordan Valley region suffers from political and social negligence. "Government officials don't help with the weaknesses of the infrastructure, which requires serious development. I think the station will help propel the people's concerns, especially the women's, to the higher levels of government."

Zahrat Al-Aghwar has had a great deal of international help, but it has had little impact on the licensing issue. Tamara Aqrabawi, a media activist and Zahrat Al-Aghwar's project manager, said, "At the initial stage of the project, I was running against time to have a scoop in the Arab world. A women-run radio station in a community like the Valley had not been done before, and I knew the station would also prove that women were capable of leadership."

"Rural society needs to be encouraged to do more for itself. At first, I was afraid the project would be rejected. But since then I have delegated a great deal of the work to the girls because I saw how excited they were about the radio station."

Asma' Raja said her new-found journalistic skills have added a lot to her confidence. "The project has increased my personal interaction with the community. I now feel that I have a role to play in addressing women's problems and the people in my community."

Munira Al-Shatti agreed. "Now I am unafraid to speak to government officials, to follow social causes, to search for the truth and to solve problems. The journalism training has helped me with all of these things." The Jordanian government has not given Radio Al-Balad any indication of when Zahrat Al-Aghwar will be allowed to begin broadcasting.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Prison Radio in Ecuador

Una radio rompe el encierro de los internos de Ibarra
A radio breaks the confinement of the Ibarra interior
El programa radial ‘La Paradoja’ se emite desde el interior de la prisión todos los jueves. Los presos por distintas infracciones participan y están contentos.
The radio program called "The Paradox" is transmitter from inside the prison every Thursday. Prisoners with different sentences are pleased to participate.

Thursday is not a visiting day in the Center for REhabilitation of Ibarra, but the tension builds before 2 PM. A group of detainees, men and women, quickly cross the main steps and enter into a long multi purpose building. Psychologists Roberto and Margarita Ramires (the are not related) head the group. All enter an area of two by three meters where they tape each weekly program, "The Paradox"

El jueves no es día de visitas en el Centro de Rehabilitación de Ibarra, pero el ajetreo se acentúa momentos antes de las 14:00.
Un grupo de reclusos, hombres y mujeres, cruza con rapidez el pasillo principal y entra en una estrecha habitación de uso múltiple. Los psicólogos Roberto y Margarita Ramírez (no son parientes) encabezan al grupo. Todos llegan a un área de dos
por tres metros, donde se graba semanalmente el programa radial ‘La Paradoja’.

Prisoners both with and without sentencing, are under the director of the center, Angel Castilla, and Psychologist Ramirez. During the hour that the program lasts (2:00-3:00) the prisoners concentrate.

Lo hacen reclusos con o sin sentencia, bajo la conducción del director del centro, Ángel Castillo, y del psicólogo Roberto
Ramírez. Durante la hora que dura el programa (de 14:00 a 15:00) el rostro de los internos resplandece.

When we started. many were afraid of the microphone and preferred to observe. Now there are 12 of the prisoners who are happy to give voice to those behind bars; to break the prejudice and to demonstrate that the prisoners are also sentient human beings, explained Freddy Ponce, sentenced to eight years for trafficing 2.5 kilos of drugs.

“Cuando empezamos, muchos temíamos al micrófono y preferíamos observar. Ahora, esta docena de personas se siente
satisfecha de dar voz a quienes permanecen tras las rejas; de romper prejuicios para demostrar que los internos también somos seres humanos sensibles”, explica Freddy Ponce, sentenciado a ocho años por traficar 2,5 kilos de droga.

La alegría de los internos es contagiosa y, por instantes, el sencillo lugar se asemeja a la cabina de cualquier estación de radio.

“’La Paradoja’ empezó a comienzos del 2007. Es un programa terapéutico neurolingüístico que consigue cambiar la actitud de los reos, mediante la práctica de actividades vinculadas con el arte, la danza, el teatro y la radio. “Soy el director del programa, pero la meta es conseguir que los internos lo dirijan”, dice Ramírez.

La Paradoja salió al aire hace seis meses y ya se han grabado 21 programas. Radio Universitaria es la matriz la señal los jueves y RTU y la Voz de Imbabura lo retransmite los sábados.

La radio-revista comienza con el saludo del Director. Luego sigue el segmento Café en Piedra, donde se abordan temas del día, poesía y reflexiones. El equipo investiga cada tema, se hacen reuniones para aprobar los criterios, se cuida el tiempo de participación y hay espacio para el debate.

“Lo paradójico de este trabajo es hacer educación, liderazgo y formar a los jóvenes desde la cárcel. Empezamos este proyecto con 40 internos formados en liderazgo. Con ellos se buscaron equipos prestados y se gestionaron los espacios gratuitos en tres emisoras. “Hoy estamos en el aire, pero queremos conseguir nuestros propios equipos en el Ministerio de Cultura”, dijo Castillo.

Richard Romero ha cumplido cinco de los seis años que le dieron por asalto y robo. “He tenido la oportunidad de capacitarme y desarrollarme. Este programa me ha cambiado y cuando salga quiero trabajar por el bien de mi familia, la cual me espera y apoya”.

A las 15:00 concluye el programa y el grupo deposita las hojas del guión y los cuatro micrófonos sobre el escritorio negro.