The Brooklyn Movement Center, an NY based community organizing group, has started the photo-a-day project with a goal to capture small, daily changes throughout the city and start conversations about city life. The organization opened in March and asks users to submit photographs that tell a story about their particular Brooklyn neighborhoods. Volunteers also conduct video interviews with people who live in the area. The project began in Bed-Stuy in June and then moved to Crown Heights in July.
Communications organizer for the project and an urban planning graduate student at Hunter College, Marly Pierre-Louis, spoke with IJNet about using citizen journalism to learn more about local communities:
IJNet: What inspired this citizen journalism project?
MPL: The idea behind the photo-a-day project was to develop a platform where we have people take photos of their neighborhoods. We wanted to recognize that, while journalism is a profession that can benefit from training and education, everyday people can be journalists of their own communities. That something just as small as taking a picture can be important to what is going on in your area. We have different themes for the photos to get different aspects of the community — gentrification, pride, rhythm, language, streets, peace, tension, old-timers, politics and the Caribbean, since Bed-Stuy has such a large Caribbean population…
IJNet: Aside from standard Facebook and Twitter posts, how are you encouraging public participation and attention?
MPL: We post the pictures we’re collecting on a Tumblr account, and post our video interviews on our website. We’ve been using social media is to send out information, but also to hold discussions and engage people. We do something on Facebook called “The Instigator”—we ask people what their thoughts are about controversial issues, and we post different videos and articles out there that talk about it. We’re also doing Twitter chats. We use social media to get people talking.
IJNet: What do you think this project accomplishes that traditional journalism can’t?
MPL: Traditional journalism is sort of passive. People receive information and do with it what they will. This kind of journalism allows people to be involved, and it’s a more proactive way of engaging with what’s happening…