The workshop was sparked off with four presentation: Lucia from Armadillo Productions spoke about her documentary The Echo of the Pain of the Many and distribution in Guatemala, Katherine from Music for Hope spoke about a solidarity project in El Salvador where learning how to play music fosters cohesion among communities, Carolina from EmergenciaMX talked about alternative media in Mexico during the citizens’ Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity, and Zapatista Solidarity Group spoke about the UK wide tour of film director Nicolas Défossé and his film ¡Viva México!, ie. dissemination based on solidarity.
All projects shared the ethics of social justice; all explored solidarity forms of production and distribution; all the projects encountered little sympathy when they asked for the cultural producers and artists to receive some kind of financial collaboration or compensation for their work – but without this, there will be dependency on the government and autonomy is undermined.
The workshop participants then worked with this scenario:
Developers want to build a shopping centre on a plot of land in a community. The community is deeply attached to this land, as it is one of the last pieces of green space in the area: some people use it for guerrilla gardening, and many members of the community have personal memories attached to the land. The developers and the council present the land as a vacant and dis-used plot with shrubs and weeds growing wildly on it. At the council meetings and in the local media, everyone seems to understand the language of the developers but no-one appreciates how the community articulates their opposition to ‘development’ and ‘progress’, why they are so offended by the language used by the developers. How, and through which media, can the community make themselves understood?
Participants agreed that in order to tackle this problem, residents need to build trust, draw on many different groups and networks in the community in order to bring together different skills and knowledges, make sure that people in the community get to know each other (for example, through intergenerational storytelling about the plot of land), build trust, use community radio.
The workshop participants agreed that three points were important to pursue in Manchester:
1. Trust (in the collective and individuals) and independence / autonomy (for the project)
2. There needs to be a balance between face-to-face contact and mediated contact
3. It is important to continuously build networks, even when there is no specific project.
– To initiate a blog (please use this one)
– To start a ‘Manchester campfire’, where people come together to share stories of resistance and weave social fabric. If you’re interested, email Manchester.Zapatista.Solidarity@gmail.com, with ‘campfire’ in the subject line.
Music for Hope https://www.facebook.com/musicforhopeuk
Armadillo Productions / The Echo of the Pain of the Many