Collaboration and shared purpose: Support and encourage participants, government and community institutions, and others to work together to advance the common good.
Community engagement through a photo project
Because it was our first time implementing our project, Voces Colectivas, we wanted to try different storytelling methodologies with an emphasis on ethics and community engagement.
Therefore, to support and encourage participants into the process of the project we decided to use photovoice methodology by creating a photo project. A photo project was first initiated in the town center of Pácora and in cooperation with the ‘Casa de Cultura’ or the Cultural House (a building where cultural artifacts of the community were stored). It was important to get the collaboration of the ‘Casa de Cultura’ representatives because we needed this place for their final execution, which was going to be a photo and testimony exhibition. We incorporated a photo project, which involved a camera, photo paper and a portable photo printer so that people can come take a free photo by themselves or with family members. Our main objective for the photo project, however was to tell community members about our project, get potential participants and most importantly contribute to the community. Having this small project in mind (back in New York), we used some of the funds to buy equipment, such as a portable photo printer, photo paper and other necessary equipment for a successful implementation of a photo project. This method was used for trust building and community engagement, keeping in mind that a free portrait is not an agreement to participate in the project and that all participation is voluntary. This also adds a special contribution to giving back to community members.
Like any rural municipality of Colombia, each rural municipality has its town’s center also called, the “urban” region of the town. Likewise, there is the peripheral areas that surrounds the urban area, called the “rural” regions or in Spanish called vereda. Jilliand I decided to take our photo project to other parts of Pácora. With the support of a vereda leader, we conducted a photo project #2.
Our experience for both photo projects were different—we will explain in detail on a final report that is in process at the moment. Our objective for both photo projects was to inform community members about Voces Colectivas and also to find participants for the individual oral history interviews that would be conducted throughout the following weeks.
At the end, both photo projects were successful, but before starting individual oral history interviews, we had to talk to community members and get feedback from them.
We met with Mr. Eliecer (local farmer) and Doña Zocorro (an elderly woman who had lived in Pácora all her life). Both of them were well-informed of the objective of Voces Colectivas. Intrigued at what oral history was, we saw this as an opportunity to conduct a pilot oral history interview with these two individuals before conducting oral history interviews with other victims from town. We spoke to Eliecer to find out the best methods for engaging with direct victims of the conflict. After a long 3-hour talk with Mr. Eliecer and visiting his family at his farm, we visited Doña Zocorro to pilot our first oral history interview. It was also the first time that I was conducting oral history, so this was great practice for both interviewer and interviewee.
On July 28, 2014, after talking to Doña Zocorro and Mr. Eliecer we planned our first photo project in the town's center.