M for Media

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Media as a system that inform all the members in a determined community can be useful to create more inclusive participatory processes. In a global scale, participatory processes may include actors from all around the globe, from different countries, backgrounds, social scales and culture to achieve inclusion and create power through the knowledge. Here, media can help to bring together different actors through different platforms of information such as internet, radio and television.

In a local scale, the inclusion of the interested community is needed. Here the media can help to create identity and empowerment in the community through simple ways including a handbook, a video, a song and a poster.

The following case study presents how the media helped to shape a project of improving the living conditions of a neighborhood in Johannesburg, since media acted in a global and local scale.

Small Change, Big Improvement

Alexandra, Johannesburg, South Africa

Number 45, 12 Ave.

2007

Global Studio is a project hosted by the University of Nairobi, Witwatersrand, Sydney, Columbia and La Sapienza Roma, that aims to bring together professionals, students and academics from developed and developing countries to take part in an interdisciplinary workshop and forum in Johannesburg. The objective was to work collaboratively in teams with local communities to develop propositions and strategies that can assist in improving people’s lives, while developing knowledge and skills in this area of work.

The project involved participatory design and planning process with various professional backgrounds including urban planners, designers, civil engineers, sociologists and anthropologists as well as the community itself.

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The pilot project took part in the community of Alexandra. This neighbourhood has 400,000 inhabitants and living in poverty and bad conditions. The result of the interdisciplinary workshop was an immediate plan for improving the living conditions of the people through participatory development. First the interdisciplinary team did research with the community and their urgent needs to have a better life and then they came with a sustainable solution because the solution can be implemented easily by the local government or an NGO and involves: a team trainer (just for the beginning of the project), a handbook with the processes to improve the housing and a DVD (to show with images the processes and activities to follow in order to improve their houses).

The processes are basic and the activities were:

  1. Clean the ravish in the roof
  2. Repair the leaking roof
  3. Improve the electricity system
  4. Implement the system of insolation with insulating foam.

The donors or supporters of the pilot project were:

  • The University of Sydney
  • University of Witwatersrand
  • Columbia University
  • University of Rome La Sapienza
  • Rockefeller Foundation
  • The Berkeley Prize
  • City of Johannesburg
  • SONA (Student Organized Network of Architects), Australia
  • University of Queensland
  • University of Michigan
  • University of Wellington
  • New School of Social Research
  • University of Buenos Aires
  • AusAID
  • Commonwealth Foundation

Video of the pilot project:

Further Information and Sources:

Global Studio

Global Studio 2007 – Johannesburg

Project Spotlight Alexandra Township, Johannesburg, South Africa

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