Friday, August 10, 2007

Day 5: Building Up to the Big Reveal

It's hard to believe we've been here for five full days--I think most of us feel that in some ways the time has just flown by, and in others it feels as if we've been here forever. The amount of knowledge the participants have accrued since they arrived has been astonishing; the level of hard work they've put into their efforts, a real testament to their dedication to bringing about change.

And when you remember that each of these activists has had to step away from the work they do at their own organizations in order to attend this training--no small feat when staff and budgets are small and the challenges at hand so many--I think you can't help but be doubly impressed by the fact they have shown up here day after day. But show up they have, and more: they have come with smiles on their faces and good will to spare. They have faced frustrations in learning this new technology, and fears about asking probing questions to total strangers. But none have them have backed away; no one here would think of giving up. Because there's too much at stake, they'll tell you. They know their stories--and the stories of their communities--need to be told.

Over lunch today I asked Jason from NGCLT about what he'd expected walking into this, and whether those expectations had been met. "I really didn’t know what to expect," he said. "Honestly, I sort of expected that other people would be doing the work and I’d be on the periphery. But sitting here looking at the story now, I realize that I am the right person to be doing it because I have the knowledge about the situation down here and the groups involved."

Jason was also surprised by how organic the process of piecing together a story can be. "I've learned that he story develops as you’re preparing it… I thought it was going to be this one thing at that was it, but that’s not the case. The stories evolve." And sometimes even continue to grow past their immediate conclusion:
“We’ve already got another one or two stories we can follow up on just from the initial work we’ve done here,” he says.

The community building aspect hasn't escaped him, either. "Getting to know these other groups has been great. And it’s amazing to see how much our stories overlap." The impact of what they've created this week, Jason says, could potentially be felt for years.

We’ve created such a great project here, and we need to make sure we follow up. We need to be reminded of what we’ve done, and [continue to] increase our skills. We need to remember to just keep doing it."

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