Nurturing the seeds of tomorrow: How participatory video became a vehicle for relationship-building across 3 languages and time zones
An overview: who was involved and what did we achieve collectively?
In the summer of 2022, InsightShare partnered with Prosocial World and CollabSoul to co-host a program funded by the Templeton World Charity Foundation. The program was designed to improve, adopt, and coordinate positive social change (prosocial) methods as a form of managed cultural evolution with a number of organisations across Latin America. InsightShare’s involvement enabled the incorporation of a participatory video process in the ongoing work of the nine organisations involved.
The group of participants were either part of civil society organisations or university researchers working on embedding prosocial approaches into their work in three main areas: environmental conservation, education, and social change. At first, uniting participants based on different continents and speaking at least three languages seemed easier said than done. As the online sessions went by, what once looked like a challenging environment transformed into a space for meaningful connection, collaboration and knowledge sharing.
Over the course of five months, the participants attended weekly sessions to learn and put into practice both PV and PV MSC methodologies. They made a series of films highlighting the most significant change they experienced throughout their Prosocial journey. This blog summarises the programme’s highlights, sharing how participatory video enhanced Prosocial World’s work supporting grassroots organisations and capturing stories of significant change.
“Participatory video has enabled a connection of heart, mind and intent that wouldn’t have been there otherwise.” – Robert Styles, Prosocial World.
Building trust and getting to know each other
Language defines who we are; it shapes our ideas and thoughts. So language was the first tool that strengthened our connection as a group coming from different walks of life and living all over the world. By incorporating live interpretation in English, Spanish and Portuguese, we aimed to:
- Make sure the participants felt comfortable sharing experiences in their mother tongue/fluency language.
- Encourage everybody to participate at any time, and to listen deeply to each other.
Beyond the live interpretation, we designed tailored resources in all languages so everyone had a clear understanding of what each activity entailed and they felt confident facilitating the process in their communities.
“The activities matched circumstance and needs. Given all the constraints – 3 languages, diverse locations, zoom, etc. the course was excellent.” – Robert Styles, Prosocial World.
We would start every session by checking in with each other, allowing us to step into the shoes of others and share a bit about our day. As sessions went by, a collective patchwork had weaved between us. Creating opportunities to talk about things that meant a lot to us, bringing the richness of different cultures, and discussing issues we cared about. A sense of cooperation, common purpose and unity prevailed throughout the training.
“The online learning was amazing, I really enjoyed it. The energy transmitted during the meetings was something very special and rare to see in online meetings.” – Felipe Kisleck, Conviver.
As facilitators, it was delightful to see these relationships grow week after week. And to see how the participants, who were already familiar with participatory approaches:
- First, became more confident in their skills to later capture their stories in video.
- They then identified areas to improve in a positive way, while having fun and enjoying the PV facilitation in the field.
- Plus, they were not afraid of making ‘great’ mistakes and learning from them!
“I will start to carry out the processes in a truly participatory way. I often believed I was doing things collaboratively, but in fact, I wasn’t giving the ideal space for everyone to participate in the field.” – Felipe Ryuji Kisleck, Conviver.
Knowledge sharing and hopes for the future
Another significant aspect of the training was the creation of a space for conversations that would not happen otherwise. And that is sometimes challenging to achieve in online environments! It was through creative activities and didactic tools such as drawings, video diaries, words in their mother tongue and support in and out of the online sessions that ultimately shaped this process. We were impressed and grateful by the tremendous amount of wisdom shared during the live sessions.
“The most significant change that we have experienced is this empowerment, to know that yes, we can! That we are not alone. That we are able to use the equipment in a very easy way to edit our videos and tell our story.” – Marilene Escobar, CollabSoul.
Something that really stood out was the capacity and resilience of the Latin American organisations to sail in rough waters. To embrace change in a positive way and keep pushing for social change in a world that tends to undermine people’s dignity and rights. It is precisely our hope that participatory video can be a tool to:
- Bring people together and talk about stories that matter to them.
- Keep inspiring future generations to look after themselves and our environment.
- Document their cultures: the richness of their dances, songs, languages and much more!
In the words of some of the participants, this is just the beginning! Wrapping up this 5-month progress was an opportunity to come together and be grateful for the chance to connect heart, mind and intent. To acknowledge that, through their locally-led work, they are nurturing the seeds that will flourish tomorrow.
“Now I appreciate PV in a very different way: how it’s accessible to all of us and how it’s a technology for collaboration. It’s kind of a vehicle for relationship building.” – Dounia Saeme, Prosocial World.
The final films produced by the participants are available on this playlist. Most of them used a very basic filming kit: smartphones, external microphones, headphones, and sometimes, tripods.
The video summary features participatory videos facilitated by CollabSoul (Brazil), Community Conservation (Cameroon), Conviver (Brazil), Earth Regenerators (Colombia) and La Jungla (Chile). Their final project involved facilitating processes of PVMSC, highlighting the most significant change they experienced throughout the Prosocial World programme.
About the author
Tania Ocampo-Garcia, Learning and Trainings Officer at InsightShare.
Feel free to get in touch at email@example.com.