Category Archives: advocacy

Media, culture and Azerbaijan

This afternoon I attended a brown bag lunch lecture at the World Bank on mobile technology and access to information. It was put on by Intermedia, an organization here in Washington DC that does amazing work on media research. (If you haven’t yet, you have to check out Audiencescapes).

There were at least half a million things I want to blog about in this presentation, so I’m sure you’ll see this referenced quite a bit in the coming days/weeks.

Although the presentation was about the increase of mobile technology and how it might be more integrated into various projects, the speaker, Dr. Gerry Power cautioned us not to forget about radio. In Africa, in particular, radio is still a major source of information, and to ignore it would be foolish. Mobile may be the fun thing to talk about now, but convergence is a more realistic solution.

But when I think of convergence, I think of old stodgey journalists finally learning how to blog. I guess I’ve been seeing it from the print/broadcast practitioner side of things. As opposed to the mobile producer side of things. But convergence, as Dr. Power’s hinted at, is more than that – its the sharing of content. Not only for the broadcaster’s sake, but for the mobile practioner’s sake, too.

A good example of this can be found in Azerbaijan and Armenia. State-owned media in both countries make it pretty hard to get any peace/reconciliation programming broadcast. So pieces that are originally created for television are instead getting audiences online.

Onni Krikorian, blogger for Global Voices, has been writing a lot lately about various media projects aimed at improving relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia. He does an excellent job describing the projects and the media pieces themselves, so I’ll just post his links here. These are highly produced pieces that aren’t being broadcast via television, as intended, but instead are making it into homes via the internet and mobile.

Armenia-Azerbaijan: Dialogue through Film

More Dialogue through Film (one of my favorites is on this one- check out the film called Download)

and Backseat musical musings….and ethnic conflict

And of course, because its on Global Voices, the conversation going on after these posts are equally interesting.

There seems to be a lot of activity in media for change in the region. The very reason I became interested in Azerbaijan was because of a job posting for a media and social change project in Baku. (It made me realize how much I don’t know about the region!)

Its definitely a region I’ll keep watching…

Glenn Close sets back Disability Rights 50 Years

Glenn Close has won an Emmy, a Golden Globe, a Tony, and has been nominated for an Oscar, but she still can’t seem to get a simple PSA right. She and her sister Jessie, who has bi-polar disorder, have recently launched a new campaign to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness- but are they doing more harm than good?

The main PSA for “Bring Change 2 Mind,” does anything but. It shows a crowded train station with hundreds of people milling through, with a few in white t-shirts. These t-shirts have titles and labels on them – such as from sister, better half, to schizophrenia to bi-polar. The purpose, I’m assuming, is to put a face to the diagnosis…

But, I have a real problem with this set up. You have PEOPLE wearing labels – isn’t that what disability rights activists have been fighting for years to overcome? When these individuals walk through the train station, we don’t see them as people, we see them as diagnoses. I don’t know Glenn Close’s sister’s name, but I know what her mental illness is…

When did we stop trying to put the person first???

And what about the people who are walking with the diagnosed? Their shirts have roles written on them- sister, battle buddy, better half. But the schizophrenics, depressed, and bi-polar  are sisters, brothers, better halves, battle buddies…..are they not?

How does this video show us that people with mental illness are real people too?

It’s doesn’t.

We are not learning anything about them as people, about their lives, their daily struggles… just their diagnosis. And in my opinion, that’s damaging.

Contrast that with a stigma reduction campaign I reviewed just a few days ago from Scotland, whose tagline is “See Me” (as in, not my diagnosis). In this campaign, the PSAs share the commonality of the experiences of the people with mental illness, AND show how the people who care for them helped them out:

At no point is anyone labeled. Instead, their situation is described, concrete things to do are suggested, and in the end mental illness doesn’t seem like something we need to freak out about! It doesn’t need to show famous people donning “I’m With Stupid” t-shirts.

The only redeeming factor of the “Bring Change 2 Mind” video is that at the end of the piece, the t-shirts fade to colors, and they meld into the crowd. This is a nice touch, but only goes to undo the damage that has already been done. We haven’t gained any ground.

The more I think about it, the more I hate this campaign. The tag  line is “Change a mind about mental illness, and you can change a life.”

But how, Glenn? How do we change a mind? By wearing diagnosis t-shirts?

This campaign gives us nothing but a famous person, revealing the “skeletons in her closet,” set to a John Mayer soundtrack.

(The press that the campaign is getting is equally sickening…..but I’ll save that for part deux, tomorrow)

Can social marketing reduce stigma?

This was one of the questions I addressed in my masters thesis this past summer. Specifically, I wanted to explore how different cultural interpretations of disability would affect communication efforts to reduce stigma in developing countries. More on that later.

As I was doing research, I came across a very interesting campaign from Scotland. The tagline is “See Me,” and they have lots of interesting uses of media in their campaign. In addition to tv and radio ads, they have photography contests, polls and downloadable curriculum packs. They also have a great collection of evaluation tools.

Each TV ad has a very clear target audience in mind, whether children or adults, the ads are aimed a people who know someone affected by mental illness. Take a look:

For children-

For adults-

(My favorite line from this one is, “Patterns change, friends don’t”)

(This one has some great brotherly ribbing, showing how their relationship didn’t change as a result of the mental illness)

Its the subtleties that I appreciate most in the ads for the adults. The ones aimed at children are clear and hopefully incite some empathy and understanding….

What do you think? Do you have some examples of stigma reduction social marketing that you found particularly good. Or bad?

Got Water?

Bottle of Beau Pal water

Bottle of B'eau Pal water

Its summertime in Washington, DC, and although it has been a comparatively mild summer, it is still hot and humid enough to make you want to jump in the pool, or have a tall glass of crisp, cold water.

How about the latest in boutique bottled water, B’eau Pal?

Unlike other high end aqua refreshment, it’s source is not some glacial mountain in the Alps, or natural spring in the Adirondacks. No, this water comes straight to us from India.

Bhopal, India, to be exact. Site of the world’s largest industrial accident.

The B’eau Pal campaign is the latest from The Bhopal Medial Appeal and The Yes Men, in an effort to raise awareness about the incident and put further pressure on Dow Chemical to be held accountable.

The launch of this campaign coincides with the 25th anniversary of the accident, which has killed 20,000, and continues to kill at least one person a day.

The campaign features a beautiful red label and even includes a nutrition label, which indicates the drink has:

The campaign is clever, but not designed for mass distribution. Rather, the Yes Men had hoped to present the bottles to Dow Chemical executives earlier this month. However, word got out, and protesters found the Dow building completely empty. Had there been some kind of confrontation, perhaps there would have been more press, and consequently more awareness.

Unfortunately, all that’s left is a pretty bottle of poisoned water.

While I like the idea for the campaign, I can’t help feel like it is just there to make US feel better. Sure its witty. If the Dow folks had been there, we could really smirk. And hopefully the coverage would have raised some awareness and possible generated some funds.

But was there really hope that the campaign would change Dow’s mind about taking responsibility?

I’d like to know how the campaign measures success in this case? What’s the return on investment here?

Don’t let your work hide on a shelf!

Messy Bookshelf

Last semester I took a course on children in international development. It was an amazing overview of some of the particular development issues that hit children – child labor, trafficking, education in crisis, early marriage, HIV/AIDS to name a few.

The final project for the course was a case study and we were partnered up with others with similar interests. My partner and I decided to focus on interventions that are in place for young disabled Iraqi refugees in Jordan.

Not only did we have to turn in a paper, we also had to present our research to the class. So, rather than bore everyone with another power point, we decided to create a website.

But not only did this give us a different way to present, it also creates a ‘living document’ so to speak. It makes the information available to others, provides resources, and gives us a way to keep our work from hiding on a shelf somewhere. Because, really, what good is it going to do there?

So check it out! We incorporated videos, photos and all kinds of links!

Feedback is welcome!!

http://www.rwdjordan.wordpress.com

Photo: Home and Garden Webshots

What Law and Order taught me about fake purses

Was it just another dead end lead, or a teaching moment?

Law and Order must be longest running TV series on the planet. And it always finds obscure, or not-so-obscure, cases in real life in which to base its plots. Last night, I’m sure was no exception.

But what struck me about last night’s episode, was one of the dead end leads that the detectives followed, briefly, in the hunt for the elusive murderer

The victim had come to New York on a bus tour, from upstate. Most of the people on the tour bus went shopping in Chinatown, to purchase fake goods- purses, bags, watches, etc. And the tour bus operator had recommended a certain shop ( a different one than he usually recommends). And for a brief moment the detectives thought the murder was in retaliation for the switch.

It turns out it had nothing to do with shopping in Chinatown.

But in the course of the investigation, the writers took the opportunity to slip in a little fact about these counterfeit goods.

Sweatshops.

When I think of the fake stuff, I think of Intellectual Property Rights issues, not really child labor. When I think of sweatshops (whether children or adult laborers), I think of Wal-Mart, Kathy Lee Gifford, chocolate, or Persian rugs. For some reason, I don’t associate the counterfeit goods with sweatshops.

Maybe I haven’t been paying attention. Maybe its an aspect of the illegal trade that hasn’t been promoted enough.

Either way, there are 2 good reasons NOT to buy fake.

So to the “two separate yet equally important groups: the police, who investigate crime, and the district attorneys, who prosecute the offenders,” thank you for the info!

Looking for bargains this Cyber Monday?

Cyber Monday marks the unofficial start of the online holiday shopping season… something akin to Black Friday for the brick and mortar stores.

There are deals and steals and bargains galore. Free shipping, 20, 30, 40% off, buy one, get one free…. you name it, you can find it online.

But don’t forget the nonprofits! Giving online is just as easy, fast, and much more rewarding as shopping online. And, there are bargains to be found, too.

For example, Google is providing fee-free processing for online donations for Pearls of Africa, which serves children with disabilities and their families throughout Africa.That means 100% of your tax deductible donation goes straight to the charity!

Now, THAT’s a deal!

To make a donation, please visit POA’s Donation page!

Thanks!

Virtual Violence

Today is International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and there are lots of things you can do!

UNIFEM has organized a “Say No to Violence” campaign, and they are collecting signatures to deliver to UN Secretary General Ban Kim Moon. You can find out more, and sign the petition here.

I’m a little disappointed in this campaign – its seems a little thrown together. Nicole Kidman seems uninspired in her presentation of the issues, the videos are incredibly dull, it takes too long to figure out what we can do to get involved….

BUT, it is an important cause, and hopefully you join me in supporting it. After all, its the CAUSE, not the CAMPAIGN should support.

That being said, a campaign that I do find interesting (and worthy!) is Take Back the Tech.

From their site:

The root cause of violence against women (VAW) lies in unequal power relations between men and women in almost all facets of life. The field of information communications technology (ICTs) faces the same gender disparity. As a result, digital spaces like the internet, broadcast and telecommunications have become defined and developed according to dominant perspectives of masculinities.

This means that VAW that happened in physical spaces like the home and streets, are now also taking new forms and occurring in digital spaces. For example, domestic violence abusers have used tools like spyware and GPS to track and control their partner’s mobility.

Our right to move freely without harassment or threats to safety also applies to digital spaces.

This 16 day internet campaign’s goal is to “reclaim ICTs to end violence against women.” A great project, with some fun tools (widgets, a tech hunt, and the Ka-blog) and they have a different action idea for each day of the campaign. That’s 16 ways to make a change!

Today’s action is to Widget Your Stand, i.e. put widgets on your blogs and social network accounts.

They’ve also set up a forum for people to make their own activity suggestions.

Lots of good ideas in this campaign, fun use of tools, I wish the site were a little easier to navigate, but all in all a fascinating campaign – one I’ll be watching!!

As someone who spends a considerable amount of time online, I think its a great frame. What about you? Do you see this a real problem? Do you feel that violence against women is evident, or promoted, online?

Using humor in video advocacy

Its no secret that using humor in your online videos is a good strategy. But sometimes its hard to figure out how to incorporate humor into issues that aren’t funny – like human rights. Its a balance that nonprofit organizations have to strike all the time.

Here is a video that made me laugh out loud – and it turned out to be from a major human rights organization!

Enjoy!

Disability and poverty go hand in hand in most countries

Today is Blog Action Day, and I’m taking part! On this day bloggers around the world are focusing on poverty, and hopefully encouraging their readers to take action!

I’m sure there will be lots of wonderful blog posts around the causes and solutions to global poverty – debt reduction, food crisis, international aid, disease…. its an unfortunate characteristic that global poverty encompasses so many ills.

But in so many aid programs around the world, people with disabilities are left out. Sure there are organizations that specifically address disability. But large scale development programs tend to ignore the unique needs of 10-20% of the population!

And its more than just about “being inclusive” or any other buzzword we hear these days. Poverty and disability have a unique relationship.

In most developing countries, people with disabilities have little or no opportunity to lead productive lives. In some areas, stigma and fear of disability in result in extreme discrimination. In others, its just outright bias. But in all areas where people with disabilities are excluded from basic life activities, poverty becomes the inevitable outcome. People with disabilities in developing countries are more likely to live on less than $2 a day.

On the other side of the equation, poverty often results in disability. Malnutrition, lack of clean water, and inadequate medical attention can all have disabling results. Add to the mix conflict, and you have a cycle of disability that is not easily broken.

Seven years ago I co-founded an organization called Pearls of Africa to support children with disabilities and their families throughout Africa. We’ve set up a library, held special education teacher training workshops, and look forward to several great new programs this year!

Since October is Disability Awareness Month here in the US, we are bringing the issue of disability in Africa to the forefront. Everyday this month we are featuring a country in Africa and what’s going on there in terms of disability. Its time we integrate our development assistance! I encourage you to visit the POA website and find out more yourself. Then pass it on- the only way we can raise awareness, is to share what we know!

Thank you, and happy Blog Action Day!