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    Inclusion and engagement eutunes joe lambert Inclusion and engagement eutunes joe lambert Document Transcript

    • "Inclusion  and  Engagement:  Digital  Stories  as  Passports  to  Citizenship"  EUTunes  Conference,  December  14,  2012  Rome,  Italy      I  open  this  talk  with  a  feeling  of  being  honored  to  return  to  the  University  Marconi,  and  to  address  this  final  event  of  the  EUTunes  project.    I  realize  as  I  come  again  to  Europe,  to  assist  with  a  project  about  the  inclusion  of  EU  countries  in  the  process  of  expansion  through  accession  such  as  Bosnia  –Erzegovina,  Montenegro  and  Albania,  and  the  EU’s  newest  member  Croatia.    These  processes  are  part  of  the  historic  trend  toward  greater  economic,  social,  cultural  and  political  integration  by  countries  that  have  historically  been  marginalized.    The  work  of  citizens  of  these  countries,  and  the  work  of  their  European  colleagues  to  take  a  broad  and  expansive  attitude,  inspire  the  world  about  how  peaceful  and  deliberate  collaboration  between  a  community  of  nations  can  lead  to  mutual  benefit.        But  we  realize  that  this  is  occurring  at  a  time  of  increased  economic  and  political  uncertainty,  an  uncertainty  that  unfortunately  leads  to  a  common  problem,  of  the  marginalization  of  minority  populations  within  countries,  and  concern  and  marginalization  of  populations  across  borders  between  countries.    The  best  response  to  nativist  insecurity  is  understanding  and  awareness  of  our  shared  humanity,  and  I  believe,  Digital  Storytelling  is  a  powerful  tool  to  provide  that  understanding.    But  more  than  that,  it  is  a  way  for  people,  especially  young  people      As  you  look  across  our  20  years  of  work  in  Digital  Storytelling,  going  back  to  our  very  first  workshops,  in  the  Mission  District  of  San  Francisco,  you  will  find  a  common  theme  in  our  work,  the  effort  to  make  the  individual  stories  of  young  people  a  mechanism  for  their  greater  agency  as  citizens  of  their  country.    The  immigrant  youth  of  San  Francisco  who  filled  our  first  public  workshops,  faced  the  same  problems  that  all  newcomers  –  all  outsiders  –  to  a  dominant  culture–  why  do  their  stories  matter?    The  message  they  receive  is  that  the  dominant  culture  is  at  best  ambivalent,  and  at  worst,  hostile  to  their  joining  the  larger  culture.    The  marginalization  of  the  immigrant  is  produced  in  thousands  of  ways,  but  the  final  result  is  a  sense  of  silencing,  your  voice  does  not  count,  and  we,  as  the  dominant  culture,  do  not  want  to  hear  your  stories.    And  that  message  has  consequences.    About  the  time  we  were  initiating  those  first  workshops  back  in  the  1990s,    Canadian  academic  Charles  Taylor  wrote  in  "The  Politics  of  Recognition":     The  demands  for  recognition  [by  immigrants  or  cultural  minorities]  is  given   urgency  by  the  supposed  links    between  recognition  and  identity,  where  this   latter  term  designates    something  like  a  persons  understanding  of  who  they   are,  of  their  fundamental  defining  characteristics  as  a  human  being.  The   thesis  is  that  our  identity  is  partly  shaped  by  recognition  or  its  absence,  often   by  the    misrecognition  of  others,  and  so  a  person  or  group  of  people  can  
    • suffer  real  damage,  real  distortion,  if  the  people  or  society  around  them   mirror  back  to  them  a  confining  or  demeaning  or  contemptible  picture  of     themselves.    ….misrecognition  shows  not  just  a  lack  of  due  respect.  It  can   inflict  a  grievous  wound,  saddling  its  victims  with  a  crippling  self-­‐hatred.  Due   recognition  is  not  just  a  courtesy  we  owe  people.  It  is  a  vital  human  need.    Of  course,  as  a  humanist,  I  believe  there  are  ways  people  with  shared  culture,  in  our  local  communities,  our  neighborhoods,  our    schools,  our  families,  can  marginalize  and  be-­‐little  each  other,  and  silence  each  other  stories.    But  I  believe  our  learning  to  listen,  and  understand,  our  shared  humanity,  starts  with  the  degree  of  tolerance  and  understanding  we  demonstrate  with  those  with  quite  different  cultural  perspectives.    Why  This  Is  Important  to  Me?    Let  me  digress  and  share  a  story  about  my  own  experience,  growing  up  in  Texas.    Perhaps,  I  believe  you  can  understand  the  roots  of  the  Digital  Storytelling  movement,  from  knowing  a  bit  about  my  history.    I  grew  up  the  son  of  two  social  activists  in  the  South.    My  first  digital  story,  20  years  ago  this  February,  was  about  their  marriage.    They  came  together  in  San  Antonio  during  a  social  uprising  in  the  immigrant  Mexican  community  over  the  exploitation  of  Pecan  Shellers,  people  who  shelled  the  pecan  nut  for  the  local  candy  industry.    Their  strike  was  one  of  the  largest  and  most  notable  efforts  of  Mexican  workers  to  oppose  “Dickensian  conditions”  in  the  workplace  in  20th  Century  US  labor  history.    My  parents  were  married  at  a  rally  of  these  strikers  in  1938.    They  spent  much  of  their  life  working  with  Latino  and  other  immigrant  workers  to  gain  political  enfranchisement,  labor  rights  and  civil  rights.    I  remember  them  taking  me  in  1966  to  a  March  in  Austin  for  improving  the  minimum  wage  of  farm  workers.        The  stories  of  these  Latino  activists,  and  the  youth  in  the  Latino  community  always  filled  me  with  inspiration,  and  as  I  became  a  youth  activist  in  San  Francisco  in  the  1970s  I  found  myself  attached  to  Asian  and  Latino  communities  demanding  rights  and  recognition.    My  decade  work  in  theater,  was  also  deeply  connected  with  providing  stages  for  immigrant  communities  from  the  Phillipines,  from  China,  from  El  Salvador  and  Guatemala,  to  express  their  stories  and  lives.    All  of  this  informed  our  first  steps  into  the  Digital  Revolution,  we  understood  that  one  part  of  that  revolution  was  to  democratize  access  to  people  to  create  and  publish  their  stories,  but  that  if  barriers  existed  for  immigrant,  poor  and  disenfranchised  communities  to  access  the  tools  of  digital  expression,  we  would  be  erecting  yet  another  fence  to  full  participation  and  citizenship.    CDS  was  founded  as  a  direct  act  of  resistance  to  the  “white  flight”  of  the  technological  frontier,  building  a  bridge  for  local  communities  to  follow.        So  it  might  be  no  surprise  that  our  Center  started  out  of  the  Latino  community  in  San  Francisco,  and  that  our  interests,  from  the  very  inception  of  this  movement,  was  to  provide  a  venue  for  young  multicultural  youth  to  cross  not  only  the  divide  of  
    • recognition,  but  the  digital  divide  as  well.    Our  work  in  Digital  Storytelling  has  always  presupposed  a  determined  perspective  about  agency,  personal  and  social  agency.    How  can  youth  feel  that  they  can  take  control  of  the  way  they  are  described  and  understood,  and  the  role  of  youth  developing  self-­‐knowledge  through  reflection  in  narrative,    in  providing  a  person  a  greater  sense  of  confidence  in  performing  a  public  self.    We  recognized  that  the  projection  of  these  digital  stories,  on  home  televisions  with  their  parents  and  grandparents,  the  screens  and  the  walls  of  schools  and  churches,  onto  the  world  wide  web  as  it  came  to  be,  were  providing  these  youth  with  an  active  identity  of  citizenship,  and  helping  them  to  gain  a  sense  of  belonging  and  recognition,  but  also  of  responsibility,    For  these  communities,  we  have  learned  that  Digital  Storytelling  could  do  many  things.        •Support  community  development,  giving  voice  to  the  full  range  of  youth  and  youth  groups  that  weave  social  fabric  and  build  community  life.    •Enable  democratic  activism,  youth  stories  play  a  critical  role  in  helping  to  engage  a  larger  public  in  social  agencies,  think  of  the  role  of  youth  and  their  stories  in  the  Arab  Spring  •Drive  citizen  journalism,  allowing  youth  to  bring  policy  questions  to  life  and  enabling  them  to  see  themselves  as  part  of  history.  •Support  a  real  national  conversation,  using  stories  in  social  networks  to  raise  and  address  urgent  issues.  •Heal  trauma,  young  people  that  are  survivors  of  personal  or  social  trauma,  learn  to  reframe  memories  as  bridges  to  empowerment  and  tools  for  promoting  human  rights.  •Promote  public  health,  where  youth  stories  of  environmental  and  behavioral  problems  serve  to  reframe  private  troubles  as  public  issues  that  can  be  addressed.        And  I  would  like  to  share  a  more  recent  story  from  our  work  in  Seattle  with  refugee  work.    The  piece  is  called  Confidence  by  a  young  Eritrean  about  her  finding  her  voice.    I  am  of  course  presenting  this  work  in  the  context  of  the  discussion  here  in  Europe,  and  the  particularly  wonderful  work  of  the  EUTunes  project.    That  the  project  occurred  at  the  border  of  Europe,  at  the  place  where  20  years  ago  the  great  “border”  war  of  former  Yugoslavia  took  place,  providing  us  with  the  most  recent  European  example  of  how  invisibility  and  marginalization  can  lead  to  genocidal  hatred,  seems  like  no  accident.    Digital  Storytelling  belongs  most  in  places  where  the  healing  process  of  historical  truth  telling  is  critical  to  the  project  of  sustainable  society.    CDS  finds  ourselves  in  Northern  Uganda  with  Child  Soldiers,  in  the  Congo  with  victims  of  gender-­‐based  crimes,  in  Bangladesh  and  Nepal  addressing  human  rights  violations.    And  of  course  what  makes  many  of  the  stories  of  the  youth  of  these  places  so  profound,  is  that  they  are  not  about  the  historic  crimes,  but  about  a  sense  of  
    • normalization,  of  normal  citizenship  and  belonging,  not  as  victims  or  the  children  of  victims,  but  as  youth  interested  in  sports,  and  movies,  and  community,  and  a  sense  of  pride  of  belonging.    As  it  should  be.    The  best  stories  are  not  of  what  might  have  happened  that  was  terrible,  but  of  what  promise  there  can  be,  of  what  hope  there  can  be,  and  how  a  future  can  be  constructed  from  these  places,  where  invisibility  meant  conflict.        But  I  speak  today  as  an  American.    As  you  can  imagine,  immigrants  in  the  US  are  both  part  of  continuum  of  American  identity  as  a  land  of  migrants,  and  part  of  a  global  problem  of  anti-­‐immigrant  backlash.      Our  mass  media  will  still  paint  pictures  of  immigrant  youth  as  the  source  of  crime  and  anti-­‐social  behavior,  as  an  economic  threat  to  naturalized  youth  in  jobs,  as  a  strain  on  the  already  weakened  social  safety  net  and  healthcare  resources.        As  you  may  be  aware  in  the  recent  US  election,  the  issue  of  anti-­‐immigrant  nationalism  fueled  much  of  Mitt  Romney’s  effort  to  position  himself  in  the  Republican  primary  as  worthy  of  conservative  support.    Fortunately,  the  November  election  sent  a  message  that  Latino  and  other  more  recent  immigrant  populations  (Asians  and  Pacific  Islanders),  are  no  longer  to  be  simply  marginalized.        In  our  country,  the  voice  of  youth  and  their  dreams  of  opportunity  are  being  heard.