Some conversations this week have reminded me of some projects that I thought I would share with you, All of the projects below have used photography to highlight people and activities in communities. Photography is used a lot for this purpose - and you may have done something similiar yourself - these projects just stand out a little in terms of showing different ways of doing it.
"Students from ten middle schools across Portland and Central Oregon are participating in Caldera's Hello Neighbor project. Along with photographer Julie Keefe, the students have begun to identify, interview and photograph diverse people of all ages in their neighborhoods.
From their work, the Caldera students will create photo-and-word portraits to be displayed on large, 7 foot by 5 foot banners throughout their communities."
In 2008, 155 portraits with between 4,000 and 5,000 residents of Southern Rotterdam were shown through a book and an (outside) exhibition. They also mapped all the groups.
Birmingham Community Tea Room - I am Stirchley
I did a workshop/surgery in Birmingham last year in a pop-up community cafe arranged by Inhabit. In the cafe was an amazing exhibition of photos by Jane Baker - featuring local people working - really beautiful and inspiring work.
And of course all the amazing work of photographer JR.
Do these sorts of projects make a difference to a community? I think that they do. Work around 'social norms marketing' would suggest that by revealing actual activities in a community you can alter a community's perception of where they live. Social norms marketing (different from 'social marketing') came out of research that showed that young people at colleges in the US perceived that other people drank more alcohol than they really did... and this exagerated perception of what others were drinking made them drink more. So they went into a community, did quantative research into the real drinking patterns and then promoted those real figures, instead of the inflated ones that students were imagining. This reduced alcohol consumption. Rather than broadcasting, revealing the reality has powerful effects.
There is a common perception that people are disinterested in getting involved in their communities, that they 'don't care anymore'. Another is that there 'isn't that much going on around here'. This is where these sorts of projects become invaluable. They don't broadcast a false 'this place is great'.... but instead they show good stuff that is just a bit hidden from view.
It is one the great things about the Collaborative 3D Asset Mapping activity we do in workshops - people are pretty thrilled when they discover that when all their collective knowledge is pooled to make the map their neighbourhood is full of activities and opportunities that they didn't know about. The act of revealing these people, ideas, spaces and other opportunities means there is much more chance they will be connected and built on.
Community Lover's Guide to Rotterdam
This revealing process is what we are doing with the Community Lover's Guide to the Universe project. Yesteday I had the thrill of seeing the hard copy of the first of the series to be published. Edited by Maurice Specht, the Community Lover's Guide to Rotterdam is launching with a 3 day event on the 8/9/10 March - in an old laundomat in Rotterdam.