by Marija Govedarica
As modern communications technology spreads and ideas are exchanged at breakneck speed, it’s important to remember not everyone has access to new media tools many of us take for granted.
Enter VO1CE, a non-governmental organization with a mission to provide citizen journalists from all over the world with training, resources, and an infrastructure through which to make themselves heard. VO1CE is raising money to create an interactive online platform that will stream stories rarely seen by the mainstream media. The idea is to serve people who are “unplugged” while avoiding traditional media outlets who often have their own agenda. The hope is to ultimately promote transparency, open debate on critical issues, and engage citizens in advocacy that will bring empowerment and drive change. This fundraiser will help VO1CE create a site that will display a world map to which citizen journalists can upload reports, interviews, conversations, and stories on a wide range of topics, such as tracking censorship, understanding Serbian social taboos through intergenerational dialogue, reporting on the real social cost of stadium construction in Rio from the 2014/2016 games, and empowerment of women’s’ leaders’ voices.
Last year, VO1CE held a 2-day social media and citizen journalism workshop at a high school in Cali, Colombia. We examined blogging and interactive media, and the outreach possibilities that these afford. The workshop provoked a wide array of inspiring stories that we hope to publish on the VO1CE website.
VO1CE has also carried out two camera drives in Bogota, Colombia and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. We provided cameras to students who could not afford them like Jessica Andrea Cubaque, a member of the local youth activity network group.
Rio de Janeiro’s Court of Justice Youth Program “Justiça para os Jovens” also benefitted from the drive. They were asked to record videos of what they would like to fix in their community as well as who or what inspires them. The participants then viewed each other’s work, identified common themes, and crafted further plans for action.
When the world’s population hit 7 billion, VO1CE established a working partnership with the planning committee of the UN Population Fund for the 7 Billion Actions campaign, a global movement committed to addressing overpopulation.
VO1CE created a crowd-sourced video documentary in which people from around the globe were asked to share their ideas about this milestone using digital media devices such as smart phones and digital cameras. This gave the documentary a personal element as well as displaying the ease with which we can all share ideas.
Most recently, VO1CE partnered up with filmmaker Vandana Sood on a project entitled Taxi Takes On The World, an interactive crowd-sourced web documentary featuring video conversations inside taxis from all continents.
We at VO1CE know this is only the beginning. The long-term plan is to help give a voice to marginalized people everywhere. Beyond interactive storytelling and journalism training, VO1CE hopes to provide a bridge for individuals to organize around key issues and work to improve their communities.
If you would like to support VO1CE’s current fundraising campaign please go to: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/214668?c=home.