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Brief Description of the Community An urban community near a large southern city. this community is predominantly African-American and suffer the effects of poverty on the health and well-being of the residents and community at large. During the Spring of 1997, community residents worked with a University to identify and prioritize 5 community health concerns: elderly, violence, environment, family health and substance abuse. However, representation was limited and three years have elapsed. They created a "governing board" to revisit the community's health issues, increase awareness and dialogue related to the broad definition of health, and increase participation and representation within the community and university. This governing board had been in place for about five years. One needs assessment had been completed but little else had been accomplished. We proposed to this project to use storytelling and photovoice to engage the community in creating a shared vision for a healthy community, a prioritized health agenda, and an action plan for implementation. The project was presented as a needs assessment but my expectation was that it would operate more as an intervention than a needs assessment. If I only knew then what I know now. Population: The neighborhood includes 7,600 acres with a population of approximately 33,900 people. Ethnic composition is 79.1% African American, 8.7% Hispanic, 9.8% White, and 2.2% Asian. Twenty-eight percent of families in X Community live below the poverty level and approximately 37% have household incomes under $15,000. Forty-one percent of the residents are employed in low paying retail jobs and 32% of the population over age 25 have less than a high school education The Idea: Photovoice was developed by Dr. Caroline Wang - handing out disposable cameras, having a community document their issues as they see them and then reflecting and dialoguing on these issues. We added storytelling to expand the project past a needs assessment and into a combined self-diagnostic/change-creating intervention. The Basic Plan: Aug. 27 Eight hours training - hand out disposable cameras to participants Sept. 1 Cameras to be returned to facilitators for processing Sept. 8 Distribute pictures and story worksheets back to participants Sept. 15 Collect two photos per participant accompanied by 5 sentence story Sept. 23 Facilitate a democratic process to choose 20 photos that are considered by the community to a.) move and inspire b.) tell a positive story without ignoring tough issues, and c.) invite curiosity. Dialogue about the stories the photos tell. Oct.1-24 Send the PhotoStories on tour inside and outside the community -at the multi-purpose center, community meetings, at the University, and on my website to promote storytelling as a tool of self-advocacy. Oct 25 Organize a community storytelling concert with slides of the PhotoStories on the day of the annual community banquet
Experimenting with PhotoStory in Your Community
1. Attract a group of interested community members to meet for a day. Be inclusive. Invite as diverse a group as possible. 2. Come together and talk about what is going on in your community. Discuss the importance of understanding the story of who you are and why you are here. Use your time to tell a few stories about the community, explore that issues are important to you. Explain that this process will lead to unpredictably powerful outcomes only if it isn't constrained by outcomes based in current thinking. 3. Distribute disposable cameras one per person or ask people to use their own cameras to take photos of your community - the people, places, events - that tell the stories of who you are. 4. Come back together within 5 weeks to share the photos and stories you think best describe your community. Set aside a whole day for this process. 6. Use a democratic selection process to narrow the PhotoStories down to a manageable number. Thirty worked well for us. 7. Ask each of the selected photographers to tell the story that goes with their photo. Use time limits so that everyone gets an equal chance. Three minutes is a good limit. 8. Ask the group to spend one hour examining how you usually discuss things and choosing 3-5 Dialogue Agreements so that the conversation you have as a group will be different, more creative, more tolerant and more inclusive than usual. 10. Set aside two hours for a dialogue process. Make sure that no one person and no one faction dominates the dialogue. Let the PhotoStories prompt the telling of other stories. Wander around the many stories of your community without attempting to summarize their meaning or choosing one representative story. When tension occurs welcome it as an opportunity to better understand the conflicts within your story. End the dialogue at it's point of natural closure. 11. Allow one hour at the end of the day to harvest new thoughts and ideas that evolved from your dialogue. Ask yourselves: If this is our story, then what actions/behaviors go with that story? Who else needs to know our story? Are there other stories we need to discover? 12. Use your photos and stories to spread your story and create opportunities for new dialogues in your community and with other communities.