Issues & Analysis
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AFGHANISTAN: A ‘continual emergency’, as war drives record numbers from their homes

The so-called Islamic State has created a new conflict and 2016 saw unprecedented amounts of people fleeing to displacement camps

Bibi Mariam was milking her cow when it suddenly let out a wild howl and collapsed in a pool of blood.

The so-called Islamic State and the Taliban were fighting near her village in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar Province. The stray bullet that killed her cow finally convinced Mariam to flee – joining a record number of Afghans displaced by conflict.  Read more

Source: IRIN Afghanistan now a ‘continual emergency’, as war drives record numbers from their homes

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BNN Community TV airing excerpts of Haitian-made films

Tele Kreyol, the Haitian news and discussion program on Boston Neighborhood Network, is airing a special to commemorate the 7th anniversary of the Haiti earthquake. The program will include excerpts from the Haitian-made films Owning Our Future: Haitian Perspectives in Film.  The films were made during CSFilm’s training and production project with Haitian storytellers in 2014.

The program is in Kreyol.  BNN, January 10, 8:30-9:30pm,  Comcast 23 | RCN83

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ON THE MEDIA: Truth, Fact, and the Future of Journalism (Co-hosted w/Citizen Futures) – StoryCode Boston (Boston, MA) | Meetup

Truth, Fact, and the Future of Journalism (Co-hosted w/Citizen Futures)

Wednesday, Jan 25, 2017, 6:00 PM

Workbar Cambridge
45 Prospect Street Cambridge, MA

20 StoryCodas Went

On Wednesday, January 25th, StoryCode Boston and Citizen Futures will present a discussion on the future of journalismThe Big Idea: What “truth” do we want from journalism? How will we define media and journalism going forward? Is the business model broken? Will journalism still have a voice?Overview // Follow the money: The media landscape is p…

Check out this Meetup →

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Filmmaking Fundamentals Class at MassArt, Boston

CSFilm Training AfghanistanMichael Sheridan will teach Filmmaking Fundamentals, a semester long class, beginning January 24th.   This course explores fiction and non-fiction filmmaking production and blends hands-on production with history and theory. Click here to see the full description and to register.

The course is open to the public and to students of all levels of experience.  Email michael@csfilm.org with any questions.

 

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CSFilm will attend Haitian Diaspora Challenge Symposium – Will you join us?

Join us for the DCI Symposium at MIT on January 21, 2017. The Diaspora Challenge Initiative aims at leveraging ideas about successful development concepts amongst members of the Diaspora looking for opportunities to contribute to Haiti’s development. We will have special guests which include Ambassador Paul Altidor and Haitian Congressman Jerry Tardieu.The event is free to attend. Must register to attend. Link to register in bio. #dciHaiti #naahp #grahnusa #shr #edem #otgs

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ON THE MEDIA: Predictions for (Local) Journalism 2017: Nieman Journalism Labs

Each year Nieman Jourmalism Labs asks people in journalism and digital media what they think is coming in the next 12 months. Here’s a selection of the responses that specifically address the power of local perspectives. Join our campaign: #LookListenLocal #csfilm #MentProdInfor

LOCAL JOURNALISM WILL FIGHT A NEW FIGHT “We will never be able to compete with the national news outlets on scale. So instead, we will acknowledge our strengths: Proximity. Intimacy. Fidelity.” 

LOCAL NEWS GETS INTERESTING “Going deep with local news means creating uniquely valuable journalism, rather than fighting the traffic battle against dozens of hot takes on Washington’s latest twists and turns.” 

JOURNALISM IS COMMUNITY   “Who is consuming our work? Is this audience different from who we would expect? Are there other people who would benefit from our work, and how do we reach them?” by 

STOP FLYING OVER THE FLYOVER STATES  “We have to stop thinking of these people as subjects we cover and relate to them as neighbors, friends, and readers we make journalism for.” 

CHAOS OR COMMUNITY? “Newsrooms must hire decision-makers, not just reporters, who are reflective of the communities we cover.” 

THE YEAR OF LISTENING ““The thing about listening,” some bold newsroom leader will say, standing atop a desk addressing the newsroom, “about really listening, is that it’s not soft. It’s not a kind of nice thing to do when you have extra time. If you do it right, it will be the hardest thing you’ll ever do. And make no mistake: The future of this newsroom, the future of our democracy even, depends on it.””

INTERNATIONAL EXPANSION WITHOUT COLONIAL OVERTONES “So much of the conversation about media internationalization and global expansion uses a lot of conquest language and colonialist overtones — and sometimes not even subtly” 

Find all the predictions here:  Nieman Journalism Lab

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ON THE MEDIA: How to Find and Support Trustworthy Journalism – Go Local – Medium

If you are hungry for news you can trust, journalism that helps you make decisions about your community, reporting that holds power to account, then this is for you. This is my personal advice for people who want to support journalism that matters.

Source: How to Find and Support Trustworthy Journalism – Highlighting Generosity – Medium

#MentProdInfo #CSFilm #LookListenLocal

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HAITI: U.N. Apologizes for Role in Haiti’s 2010 Cholera Outbreak

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon avoided any mention of who brought the disease to Haiti, and critics said his mea culpa came too late.

Source: U.N. Apologizes for Role in Haiti’s 2010 Cholera Outbreak

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11 Point Guide for Media Makers and Consumers in an Upside-down and Inside-out World

Many were surprised by the results of the 2016 US election, the Brexit vote and the Colombian peace treaty referendum.  This has reinforced CSFilm’s belief in the importance of understanding the world from the local perspective.  The news media was unable to effectively educate the public about the disparate beliefs informing our polarized world.  To address these shortcomings CSFilm used the lessons learned from its work to define a set of media-making principles.  Here they are:

1. Be of the people or place you are telling a story about;

Hint #1: Anchors, columnists, analysts, staff writers, foreign correspondents, national and desk reporters etc. are not necessarily of a people or place

Hint #2: If you grew up on a farm and then spent 30 years as a staff writer, foreign correspondent, anchor and/or talk show host, you are no longer of the farm

Exception: If for reasons of safety, access or balanced perspective, the only way to communicate local concerns is through an outsider, then break this rule.

2. Be transparent about your knowledge and experience of the people and places you are communicating about;

Hint #1: You’re human.  You have inherent bias.  Transparency helps reveal even those biases unknown to you.

3. Listen deep and look long;

Hint: Easier done if you are of the people or place.

4. Amplify the voices, views and actions of your subjects;

Hint #1: Don’t mediate.

Hint #2: The storyteller is not as interesting as the subject.

Hint #3: So, get out of the picture.

5. Look locally, see globally;

Hint #1: Through the specific you reveal the universal, not the other way around.

6. Dig deep and wide for root causes;

Hint #1: Reporting every word and action of a politician does not help your audience understand the people that support them.

Hint #2: Understanding war is not about being where the bullets fly.

Hint #3: Facts are only one facet of the story.

7. Provide evidence, not conclusions;

Hint: Let your audience figure it out, don’t ‘tell’ them the story.

8. Show it, don’t talk about it;

Hint #1: People sitting around glossy studio sets are not showing it.

Hint #2: Documentaries dominated by talk heads are not showing it.

9. Develop and connect local distribution networks;

Hint: Bottom-up networks are well grounded for impact.  Top-down networks, not so.

10. Start again at #1 and practice these principles so that you can break them wisely and creatively;

11. Write your own list of principles that best serves your people and place.

CSFilm’s mission is to model and advocate for bottom-up storytelling that informs and stimulates public debate. With your generous support we will continue to work with the under-represented to voice and visualize their stories.

#LookListenLocal #MentProdInfo #CSFilmOrg

donate-now

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AFGHANISTAN: In Afghanistan, Women’s Rights Still Struggle to Take Root · Global Voices

Girls in Afghanistan

Girls in Afghanistan. (DFID UK Flickr)

By Nilofer Tahiri, globalvoices.orgNovember 12th, 2016

‏معاون شورای علمای کابل: زنان ناقص العقل اند.
#نكته: پس تو بد بخت كه از يك #ناقص العقل به دنيا آمدي هيچ #عقل نداري.

Being delivered into this world by someone brain-defected, the deputy to the Kabul clerical council must himself be without a brain.

Posted by Nilofer Tahiri on Saturday, November 12, 2016

In a 2011 survey by Thomas Reuters Foundation, Afghanistan was identified as the most dangerous place for women to live due to high mortality rates, limited access to doctors and a lack of economic rights.

Women in Afghanistan trail men in part due the absence of intellectual and institutional support for a women’s rights movement, even as over a quarter of MPs and the governors of two provinces (Dykundi and Bamiyan) are women.

Some female politicians have gained a reputation for speaking out against social injustice:

سیلی غفاری زن شجاع و دلیر افغان که همیش در جنایت کاران را در برنامه های سیاسی تلویزیون های با حرف هایش مانند مشت اهنین پولادی کوبیده است.

Posted by Sayed Paise Kunari on Saturday, April 25, 2015

(MP )Selay Ghaffari is a courageous Afghan women who always criticizes the criminals with her words in the TV debates.

Posted by Sayed Paise Kunari on Saturday, April 25, 2015

While such political positions should not be easily dismissed on the back of the five-year reign of the staunchly conservative Taliban government wherein women played no role in public life, they still feel somehow symbolic in a country where many still view male superiority as inherent.

Restrictions on women are most pronounced at the semi-urban level. In rural Afghanistan women are equally active in working outside of the house as men are, often toiling unveiled in the field as opposed to their counterparts in provincial towns where the religious establishment and patriarchy are more powerful.

In urbanized regions of the country due to higher rates of education and social security, women enjoy broader opportunities, even as sexual harassment has stayed a persistent problem.

How to change the environment for women’s rights in the country?

As education becomes more and more prized in Afghan institutions, it is critical that universities and think tanks as well as progressive elements in government explicitly identify with and support feminism.

Currently there are few publicly visible institutions fighting for women’s rights, while notable exceptions such as the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, which partially carries out the role of a court in dealing with domestic violence and other abuses of women, remains isolated in the overall institutional framework.

One way in which women have been able to earn dignity and respect In Afghanistan is by quoting Islamic religious texts, citing passages from the Koran or the work of Muslim scholars, in order to prove that abuses against women are un-Islamic.

But a dialogue on women’s rights based on religion alone can only uphold the rights of women so far. There will always be some like the deputy of the Kabul clerical council, who are ready to turn scripture against women again.

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HAITI: Haitians at US border face deportation lottery

Haitians at Tijuana border

Haitian migrants arrive at the Casa del Migrante shelter late into the night. (Jonathan Levinson/IRIN)

By Jonathan Levinson, www.irinnews.orgNovember 24th, 2016

On a quiet, residential street overlooking the Tijuana River, barely two miles from the US border, Pierre Jacques Norma, a Haitian migrant who has traversed nine countries over the past three months to reach Mexico, sits in the dining area of the Casa del Migrante shelter.

Norma’s future is uncertain even by the precarious standards of most migrants. When he and his pregnant wife go to their appointment with US Customs and Border Protection on 23 December, he has no idea if they’ll be released into the United States and given the opportunity to apply for asylum or be detained and deported back to Haiti.

“I’m not scared of being deported. I know God is looking for a better life for me,” he says, finishing off a dinner of rice and stew provided by the shelter. The small group of Haitians sitting around the table nods in agreement.

U-turns, now Trump

It’s no surprise that Norma places his faith in God as he contemplates his future. The past few months have been a rollercoaster ride for US policy towards Haitian migrants. The election earlier this month of Donald Trump, who campaigned on an anti-immigration platform, has only added another layer of uncertainty.

On 3 November, with little fanfare, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) resumed deportations of Haitians for the first time in the nearly seven years since they were suspended following a devastating earthquake. The move was a response to a 1,300-percent increase in arrivals of Haitian migrants over the past year, an influx that immigration officials have been struggling to manage.

Between October 2015 and September 2016, about 5,000 Haitians arrived in the US, the majority of them via Brazil, where they have been eligible for humanitarian visas since the 2010 earthquake. But Brazil’s economy took a nosedive this year, sending the country’s unemployment rate soaring to 11.8 percent and prompting many Haitians to make the long trek to the US.

“DHS thought that this humane policy was a magnet and drawing people to the southwest border, and so they wanted some deterrence. They changed the policy and said we’re going to deport them,” explained Randy McGrorty, executive director of Catholic Legal Services for the Archdiocese of Miami, which represents people seeking asylum and relief from deportation.

But before deportations could resume Haiti was once again devastated, this time by , which hit on 4 October. The UN estimates that 1.4 million people in Haiti are in need of humanitarian assistance following the hurricane and that 800,000 are “extremely food insecure”. The country, the poorest in the western hemisphere, is still grappling with an existing cholera epidemic that has sickened 700,000 people and killed 10,000 since 2010.

After the hurricane, DHS put deportations on hold, but only for 30 days. In the past three weeks, since they resumed, 203 Haitians have been deported, according to an official from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Another reversal

During November, most Haitians admitted into the US (about 1,440) were slated for deportation and detained as part of a process called “expedited removal”.

“If someone is put into expedited removal proceedings, they don’t have access to a judge,” said Andrea Guerrero, the executive director of Alliance San Diego, an immigrant assistance agency. “They are summarily ordered removed and deported as soon as is feasible.”

But detention centres soon filled up. ICE says that 10 percent of its detention space is now filled by a total of 4,425 Haitians.

DHS was forced to change policy once more. Starting on 11 November, the department went back to its pre-September policy of paroling Haitians.

A parolee is given a court date in their destination city and released. Those individuals will eventually go before a judge to determine if they have a genuine asylum claim. In most cases, their claims will be rejected and they’ll be placed in deportation proceedings. But with half a million people in line for a court date, the wait can be years and in the meantime many find work in the US.

Agonising wait

Norma has been in Tijuana since 5 November, but US border officials are only able to process about 60 Haitians a day. With an estimated 4,000 Haitians waiting to enter the US from Tijuana, and ICE officials estimating that as many as 40,000 more are en route from Brazil, the wait for an appointment can take months and uncertainty about the outcome has left many on the border despondent.

Since the 2010 earthquake, many Haitians in the US have benefited from temporary protected status for 18-month periods that have been repeatedly renewed, most recently until July 2017. But new arrivals don’t qualify for TPS and there are fears that president-elect Trump will shut down the TPS programme all together, making even Haitians who have been resident in the US for the past seven years liable for deportation.

Last Friday afternoon, outside the Casa del Migrante shelter, Norma and his friends were hanging out with a small group of Haitians – five women and five men – whose appointments with Customs and Border Protection were that day. They were waiting for Grupo Beta, a Mexican immigration organisation formed to assist migrants, to pick them up and transport them to the border. When the van arrived, everyone gathered around. Shelter volunteers took photos and waved goodbye and the Haitians staying behind looked on smiling, but with a hint of longing.

Shelter problems

Father Pat Murphy, who runs Casa del Migrante, has seen US policy shift too many times over the past couple of months to offer any advice to the Haitians staying at his shelter.

“The ones who went today probably will be paroled. By Monday they could change their minds again,” he said. He added with a frustrated laugh, “I’m not going to say anything to anyone anymore because I look like the crazy one.”

The unannounced policy changes have profound ramifications for the NGOs in the US that have the de facto task of caring for the parolees when they’re released.

Guerrero is exasperated that the government doesn’t appear to have learned from the very recent past.

“We were in this situation a couple of months ago. We were in a shelter crisis. We had to open up National Guard facilities. We had to put a call out for donations. We were feeding 500 people a day because they didn’t have anything but the clothes on their back. And now, by next week, we’re going to be in the exact same situation.

“It’s a failure of government to not make a proper plan or partner with receiving communities.”

The latest new rule

In a statement released on Wednesday, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson formally announced the resumption of deportations for Haitian nationals and said he had authorised ICE to acquire additional detention space so that those apprehended at the border “can be detained and sent home as soon as possible”.

Among the Haitians in Tijuana there remains a stubborn fixation on the American dream, but Murphy is trying to persuade them to consider shifting it south just a few miles. He’s encouraging the Haitians to think about a Mexican dream instead of an American one.

“You get to the other side, have your parole, and in one year you go to court and you’re deported anyway. It’s not a final solution to your problem,” he tells them. “Mexico offers a humanitarian visa. Take it and work.”

“Tijuana has always been this place where people can feel at home even if they’re from somewhere else,” Murphy told IRIN.

And while it might not be the first choice for many here, it’s certainly on their radar.

“Haitians have heart; heart to fight, to work, to find a better life,” said Sammy Laroch, one of the Haitians watching the group climb into the Grupo Beta van to go to the US border.

Asked if he’d consider staying in Tijuana, Laroch said he would first try his luck getting paroled in the US, even if it carried the risk of detention and deportation. Tijuana was “plan C”.

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ON THE MEDIA: Are humans evolving beyond the need to tell stories?

By Will Self, www.theguardian.comNovember 25th, 2016

Neuroscientists who insist technology is changing our brains may have it wrong. What if we are switching from books to digital entertainment because of a change in our need to communicate?

A few years ago I gave a lecture in Oxford that was reprinted in the Guardian under the heading: “The novel is dead (this time it’s for real)”. In it I argued that the novel was losing its cultural centrality due to the digitisation of print: we are entering a new era, one with a radically different form of knowledge technology, and while those of us who have what Marshal McLuhan termed “Gutenberg minds” may find it hard to comprehend – such was our sense of the solidity of the literary world – without the necessity for the physical book itself, there’s no clear requirement for the art forms it gave rise to. I never actually argued that the novel was dead, nor that narrative itself was imperiled, yet whenever I discuss these matters with bookish folk they all exclaim: “But we need stories – people will always need stories.” As if that were an end to the matter.

Non-coincidentally, in line with this shift from print to digital there’s been an increase in the number of scientific studies of narrative forms and our cognitive responses to them. There’s a nice symmetry here: just as the technology arrives to convert the actual into the virtual, so other technologies arise, making it possible for us to look inside the brain and see its actual response to the virtual worlds we fabulate and confabulate. In truth, I find much of this research – which marries arty anxiety with techno-assuredness – to be self-serving, reflecting an ability to win the grants available for modish interdisciplinary studies, rather than some new physical paradigm with which to explain highly complex mental phenomena. Really, neuroscience has taken on the sexy mantle once draped round the shoulders of genetics. A few years ago, each day seemed to bring forth a new gene for this or that. Such “discoveries” rested on a very simplistic view of how the DNA of the human genotype is expressed in us poor, individual phenotypes – and I suspect many of the current discoveries, which link alterations in our highly plastic brains to cognitive functions we can observe using sophisticated equipment, will prove to be equally ill-founded.

The neuroscientist Susan Greenfield has been prominent in arguing that our new digital lives are profoundly altering the structure of our brains. This is undoubtedly the case – but then all human activities impact upon the individual brain as they’re happening; this by no means implies a permanent alteration, let alone a heritable one. After all, so far as we can tell the gross neural anatomy of the human has remained unchanged for hundreds of millennia, while the age of bi-directional digital media only properly dates – in my view – from the inception of wireless broadband in the early 2000s, hardly enough time for natural selection to get to work on the adaptive advantages of … tweeting. Nevertheless, pioneering studies have long since shown that licensed London cab drivers, who’ve completed the exhaustive “Knowledge” (which consists of memorising every street and notable building within a six mile radius of Charing Cross), have considerably enlarged posterior hippocampi.

This is the part of brain concerned with way-finding, but it’s also strongly implicated in memory formation; neuroscientists are now discovering that at the cognitive level all three abilities – memory, location, and narration – are intimately bound up. This, too, is hardly surprising: key for humans, throughout their long pre-history as hunter-gatherers, has been the ability to find food, remember where food is and tell the others about it. It’s strange, of course, to think of Pride and Prejudice or Ulysses as simply elaborations upon our biologically determined inclination to give people directions – but then it’s perhaps stranger still to realise that sustained use of satellite navigation, combined with absorbing all our narrative requirements in pictorial rather written form, may transform us into miserable and disoriented amnesiacs.

When he lectured on literature in the 1950s, Vladimir Nabokov would draw a map on the blackboard at the beginning of each session, depicting, for example, the floor plan of Austen’s Mansfield Park, or the “two ways” of Proust’s Combray. What Nabokov seems to have understood intuitively is what neuroscience is now proving: reading fiction enables a deeply memorable engagement with our sense of space and place. What the master was perhaps less aware of – because, as yet, this phenomenon was inchoate – was that throughout the 20th century the editing techniques employed in Hollywood films were being increasingly refined. This is the so-called “tyranny of film”: editing methods that compel our attention, rather than leaving us free to absorb the narrative in our own way. Anyone now in middle age will have an intuitive understanding of this: shots are shorter nowadays, and almost all transitions are effected by crosscutting, whereby two ongoing scenes are intercut in order to force upon the viewer the idea of their synchrony. It’s in large part this tyranny that makes contemporary films something of a headache for older viewers, to whom they can seem like a hypnotic swirl of action.

It will come as no surprise to Gutenberg minds to learn that reading is a better means of forming memory than watching films, as is listening to afternoon drama on Radio 4. This is the so-called “visualisation hypothesis” that proposes that people – and children in particular – find it harder not only to remember film as against spoken or written narratives, but also to come up with novel responses to them, because the amount of information they’re given, together with its determinate nature, forecloses imaginative response.

Almost all contemporary parents – and especially those of us who class themselves as “readers” – have engaged in the Great Battle of Screen: attempting to limit our children’s consumption of films, videos, computer games and phone-based social media. We feel intuitively that it can’t be doing our kids any good – they seem mentally distracted as well as physically fidgety: unable to concentrate as they often look from one handheld screen to a second freestanding one, alternating between tweezering some images on a touchscreen and manipulating others using a remote control. Far from admonishing my younger children to “read the classics” – an utterly forlorn hope – I often find myself simply wishing they’d put their phones down long enough to have their attention compelled by the film we’re watching.

The Great Battle of Screen … a teenager triple-screening. Photograph: U Baumgarten via Getty

If we take seriously the conclusions of these recent neuroscientific studies, one fact is indisputable: whatever the figures for books sales (either in print or digital form), reading for pleasure has been in serious decline for over a decade. That this form of narrative absorption (if you’ll forgive the coinage) is closely correlated with high attainment and wellbeing may tell us nothing about the underlying causation, but the studies do demonstrate that the suite of cognitive aptitudes needed to decipher text and turn it into living, breathing, visible and tangible worlds seem to wither away once we stop turning the pages and start goggling at virtual tales.

Of course, the sidelining of reading narrative (and along with it the semi-retirement of all those narrative forms we love) is small potatoes compared with the loss of our capacity for episodic memory: would we be quite so quick to post those fantastic holiday photographs on Facebook if we knew that in so doing we’d imperil our ability to recall unaided our walk along the perfect crescent of sand, and our first ecstatic kiss? You might’ve thought that as a novelist who depends on fully attuned Gutenberg minds to read his increasingly complex and confusing texts I’d be dismayed by this craven new couch-based world; and, as a novelist, I am.

I began writing my books on a manual typewriter at around the same time wireless broadband became ubiquitous, sensing it was inimical not only to the act of writing, but that of reading as well: a novel should be a self-contained and self-explanatory world (at least, that’s how the form has evolved), and it needs to be created in the same cognitive mode as it’s consumed: the writer hunkering down into his own episodic memories, and using his own canonical knowledge, while imagining all the things he’s describing, rather than Googling them to see what someone else thinks they look like. I also sense the decline in committed reading among the young that these studies claim: true, the number of those who’ve ever been inclined “to get up in the morning in the fullness of youth”, as Nietzsche so eloquently put it, “and open a book” has always been small; but then it’s worth recalling the sting in the tail of his remark: “now that’s what I call vicious”.

And there is something vicious about all that book learning, especially when it had to be done by rote. There’s something vicious as well about the baby boomer generation, which, not content to dominate the cultural landscape, also demands that everyone younger than us survey it in the same way. For the past five years I’ve been working on a trilogy of novels that aim to map the connections between technological change, warfare and human psychopathology, so obviously I’m attempting to respond to the zeitgeist using this increasingly obsolete art form. My view is that we’re deluded if we think new technologies come into existence because of clearly defined human objectives – let alone benevolent ones – and it’s this that should shape our response to them. No, the history of the 20th century – and now the 21st – is replete with examples of technologies that were developed purely in order to facilitate the killing of people at a distance, of which the internet is only the most egregious example. Our era is also replete with the mental illnesses occasioned by such technologies – sometimes I think our obsession with viewing violent and horrific imagery is some sort of collective post-traumatic stress disorder.

So, it may be that our instinctive desire to kill at a distance is a stronger determinant of our cognitive abilities than our need to tell other humans where the food is. Which would certainly explain why poring over a facsimile of Shakespeare’s first folio is being supplanted by first-person shooters. I’ve referred throughout this piece to Gutenberg minds, and I do indeed believe that each successive knowledge technology brings with it a different form of human being. It’s worrying that our young seem distracted and often depressed, and sad for those of us who have invested so much of our belief and our effort in print technology, that it – and the modes of being associated with it – appear to be in decline. But it may be the case that our children are in the larval stage of a new form of human being, one which no longer depends on their ability to tell the others where the food is. Why? Because, of course, they know where it is already, due to the absolute fluidity and ubiquity of bi-directional digital media. Indeed, there may not be any need to tell the others where the food is in the future, because in an important sense there are no others.

The so-called “singularity” proposed by tech gurus, whereby humans hybridise with machine intelligence, and form a new genotype, subject to evolution by natural selection, may not begin with a cosmic bang; rather, the whimpering of our children as they shoot at their virtual enemies, or are defriended, may be the signal that it’s begun already. Richard Brautigan, the great hippy writer, envisaged a “cybernetic meadow” in which “mammals and computers live together in mutually programmed harmony”. It sounds to me an awful lot like our own current state of storytelling, without, of course, the need for anyone to read poetry, which is the form within which Brautigan did his visualising, and we received his rather optimistic vision.

This is an edited version of a lecture delivered by Will Self as part of Scottish Book Week. His new novel, Phone, will be published by Penguin next year.

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ON MIGRATION: Trump’s Offensive Against Undocumented Migrants Will Fuel Migration Crisis | Inter Press Service

This article speaks to how, with continued extreme economic disparity, migrants will migrate:

“Donald Trump will not stop me from getting to the U.S.,” said Juan, a 35-year-old migrant from Nicaragua, referring to the Republican president-elect who will govern that country as of Jan. 20. Juan, who worked as a street vendor in his country and asked that his last name not be mentioned, told IPS: “I got scared when I heard that Trump had won the election (on November 8). Maybe with Hillary (Clinton) there would have

Source: Trump’s Offensive Against Undocumented Migrants Will Fuel Migration Crisis | Inter Press Service

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We Need Your Support to Continue to Empower Local Perspectives

Network News

Network news studio: centralized and isolated

In these post-election days of angst, confusion and uncertainty, I’m clear about one issue. Our news networks do not report from the local perspective, they are centralized and disconnected. That there is so much news and so little understanding of the concerns and state-of-mind of at least half of US citizens is very telling. Without good information we cannot develop informed and compassionate opinions or support equitable policies.

This experience has reaffirmed my commitment to strengthening our understanding of social and economic concerns – whether at home or abroad – from the local, grassroots perspective.

Filming The Road Above

Filming The Road Above, Aqeela Rezai, Afghanistan

Community Supported Film’s trainings and films demonstrate the power of local storytelling. Many people have told me at screenings across the country that it is the first time they are hearing from and seeing how Afghans or Haitians are dealing with their own issues.

Film Still

Film Still: Owned and Occupied by Bichara Villarson, Haiti

Most of the news looks at rather than from within the subject! We are made to experience ‘the other’ through the eyes and actions of outsiders, rather than connecting with our common humanity when we hear their voices directly.

Film Still

Film Still: Water Ways, Majeed Zarand, Afghanistan

Improving local capacity in documentary filmmaking and sharing their films empowers the maker and the audience. This is why CSFilm works so hard to demonstrate the power of local perspective storytelling.  It is why we tour the country sharing our view that “the messenger is the message.” In essence we want to help to take the foreign out of foreign correspondence.

To continue this work CSFilm needs your help! Your support has and will continue to educate the public about the importance of local perspectives, mentor local storytellers in the production of non-fiction films and share their important stories.

Please donate as generously as you can.

Thanks and very best wishes for the holidays,

Michael Signature

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Divided We Fall, But Bland Calls For Unity Won’t Cut It Either

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This is about the deep listening that needs to be done and that Community Supported Film wants to nurture and champion…

“The biggest mistake we can make is to assume that it is up to our political leaders to unify us. They can set the tone, but it is primarily in the hands of the American people to rebuild a basic level of mutual respect and dignity …
Hate and bigotry almost always grow out of fear.
Caring for those you disagree with is not the same as compromising your principles.
Emotional connections change everything; rational arguments don’t. …
1. Whatever it is you are pursuing, think about who loses if you win.
2. Decide you care what happens to them.
3. Reach out across that divide to start a real conversation. …”

The 2016 election highlighted divisions that run deep in American society. Here’s what you can do to help bridge them.

Source: Divided We Fall, But Bland Calls For Unity Won’t Cut It Either

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ON THE MEDIA: Eight Ways to Strengthen Democracy Beyond Voting

Chuck Collins great post on the work to be done. Community Supported Film particularly encourages us all to evaluate the impact of his point #1 and #2. We must do some “deep listening,” as Christopher Lydon (Open Source) has been saying. We need to hear the perspectives of those we don’t know and don’t understand. The media is not doing this work for us and we must find a new way to hear each other. Community Supported Film is committed to empowering local voices.

‘Especially after the deeply toxic experience of 2016,’ writes Collins, ‘we all need to step up to protect our real democracy.’

Source: Eight Ways to Strengthen Our Democracy Beyond Voting

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HAITI: Haiti faces a ‘major food crisis’, its interim president says – BBC News

Haiti’s interim leader tells the BBC the country faces a “major food crisis” after Hurricane Matthew.

Source: Haiti faces a ‘major food crisis’, its interim president says – BBC News

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AFGHANISTAN: Afghanistan May Have to Accommodate 1.5 Million Refugees in 2016

Strain of new arrivals adds to government’s challenges

Source: Afghanistan May Have to Accommodate 1.5 Million Refugees in 2016

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ON DEVELOPMENT, ON MIGRATION: A Perspective on Migration, Agriculture and Rural Development | Inter Press Service

Migration is part of the process of development. It is not a problem in itself, and could, in fact, offer a solution to a number of matters. Migrants can make a positive and profound contribution to the economic and social development of their countries of origin, transit and destination alike.

Source: Beyond Calais: A Perspective on Migration, Agriculture and Rural Development | Inter Press Service

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US Election Results Highlight Importance of CSFilm’s Mission

The Messenger is the Message: US Media’s role in election outcome has reaffirmed CSFilm’s commitment to strengthening the public’s understanding of social and economic concerns – whether at home or abroad – from the local perspective. News media is too centralized, top-down and isolated. Learning about ‘the other,’ whether it be Aghans, Haitians, blue-collar workers or new immigrants, is mostly done by the mainstream media through the eyes of outsiders.

Suggested reading:
Kill the Messenger – The Media’s Role in the Fate of the World, Maria Armoudian, armoudian.com

“What role do the media play in creating the conditions for atrocities…Conversely, can the media be used to preserve democracy and safeguard the hyman rights of all citizens in a diverse society?”

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