|SCHOOL OF POPULAR COMMUNICATION ALBERTO GRIFI
… “the heat and the mosquitoes not help but the guys still enthusiastic work until the last scene, until the final title with thanks and the word “the end”.
They know that this is the beginning of a long and difficult work in communication. They feel the responsibility to pursue alone designing communication tools through a creative and alternative form.
Speak and spread between the communities stories of violence and repression, stories from field that nobody ever could and wanted to tell, because sometimes remember is all too painful. The real possibility to take back in our hands the word to communicate existe and to do it we need the support and collaboration of all.
And on these looks we can find the words and the visions of Alberto Grifi. These looks accompained us to demolish the barriers of bourgeois professionalism, toward a reality of communitarian communication where definitively break the roles of author and protagonist.
Communication is a human, collective and freedom activity” …
Ironriot, Colombia 2007
GOALS AND STRATEGIES
The Popular Communication School Alberto Grifi is a space for libertarian training, whose main goal is to raise awareness on the importance of independent media and expression freedom. The School doesn’t have a particular physical space and there is no professional-specialized teachers.
This school takes place every time and everywhere there is optimal conditions to do it. On one hand, there is the desire to share and exchange knowledge, breaking down the cultural barrier between teacher and student, that is main feature of the educational processes in Western cultures. On the other hand, there is a community, which is facing a process of autonomy and independence from the unique thought of the neo-liberal model. A community using its own human, social and cultural potentialities, to resist against exploitation and to re-define, day by day, its own present. The main goal of the course is to constitute groups of communitarian communication, which have the basic knowledge to use the principal communication equipment: video-camera, photo-camera, audio recorder, computer. Learning of these basic skills, the groups will be encouraged to find out an autonomous process of creative, productive and organizational development. This process will allow the communication group, and the community as a whole, to have their medium, appropriate to their needs and to reinforce the self-management process. Communication groups are also stimulate to share the knowledge learned during the course. So we organize a further workshop managed by student of the first workshop: they teach to students from other communities or other people of the same community who wants to be involved. In fact the goal of Popular Communication School is not to create communication professionals, but to support autonomy processes of communities in resistance.
‘Sharing knowledge’ breaks the logic of professionalism, which tries to protect information, building a society with higher and lower classes.
‘Sharing’ means participate to the construction of a collective intelligence, a strong and conscious community, where communication is a popular process, diffuse, practiced, protected by everybody.
From 2005 to 2007 we realize our workshops in Colombia. In collaboration with NGO International Peace Observatory we meet rural communities in resistance in Magdalena Medio, Catatumbo and Tolima regions.With them and with the peasant associations accompanying the autonomy and resistance process, we construct the first communication groups and we realize a photo-showing; two brief publications (Catatumbo Habla and Voces del Altamizal), Taller Comunicacion; a video documentary on our school workshops in which students interview each other, speaking about their impression on this project; three short docu-fiction filmed with the camera editing technique (Historia real de un campesino, La histora de un informante and Tragedia campesina).
In 2009 we are in Mexico where, thanks to the group Nodo Solidale, we realize some workshops in the zapotec indigenous community in Santiago Xanica, Sierra South of Oaxaca State.
The students filmed a short docu-fiction with the camera editing technique (La milpa y el campesino).
In 2010 we are in Smira, a small farmer community in Morocco. We support a suistantable tourism project called Desert Ocean which borned from a collaboration between Morocco Migrant Community resident in Bologna area (the association Sopra i Ponti) and the rural communities of involved villages. Often these villages are also places of origin of people involved in this project.
The final result of this workshop is the realisation of a web site that the communities can use to give visibility to their territory and to sustainable tourism (http://desertocean.indivia.net/ ).
In general, the study planning of our Popular Communication School has six modules:
• Theory of popular communication
• Audiovisual language
• Multimedia language and internet
First, the practice of these modules is in relation with the technological possibilities of the community. In this way we work only in the communication areas that they autonomously will develop afterwards. Then, we do a meeting with the whole community, finding out the communication media, which more can satisfy their needs at that moment. In this way, maintaining a general education on every communication media and technologies, they study deeply the most important modules linked with their own community communication strategy. This is important to develop a real communication that can develop autonomously.
(workshop developed in October 2006, Catatumbo region, Columbia)
The workshop consists of four days for every community, with six hours of work per day. The first day we have a meeting with the whole community. We pleasantly discuss for a long time about communication conditions on the area where they live, speaking about the strategical importance of popular communication. In this first day the central topic is the independent communication and the goal is to stress its importance with the need to start an emancipator self-determinate process, rather than reliance on us. Discussing strategies to defend their projects, they decide not to promote and realize only one communication project for the whole region (i.e. a radio or newspaper). They want to develop as more media as possible in relation to each other and in more communities . Here the idea of communication network becomes a strategy to defend their own right to communicate and be informed. In the second day they start to analyze some media. They find out the peculiarities, using the point of view of a popular communication system. Then we start to talk about journalism with the intention to realize a newspaper distributed in the whole region. The first step is the choice of the topics: information about human rights violation made by the army, tales on region history, reportages on local culture and rural tradition and so on… After that, they analyze how to tell about these topics in a newspaper, as articles, reportages, comix, stressing the main characteristics and the realization ways: they do a work planning and write down the works (texts?) for the newspaper. Here a large part is dedicated to making interviews, because we think that it is a direct communicative form with whom the community can easily tell stories. So they use an audio recorder for the interviews that they then transcript and publish as written article. At the end of this day we have every element for the newspaper. The third day we work with the digital photo-camera, presenting main characteristics and functioning of image language. They take photo, often for the first time. With this work we reflect about the photography as communicative media: we speak about the use inside the articles, photo-reportage, photo showing and so on… trying to find out in every shot a piece of that beautiful landscape. At the end of this day they reflect on topics to develop them as video work. When they choose the interesting one, they construct the screenplay, using the structural elements of visual language. In the fourth and last day of workshop they turn on the video-camera. It is not so difficult to explain them the basic function, so they start to work on shot, light, sound recording and camera movement. They construct the scenes, the actors learn their piece and they write the title signs. Now everything is ready to film! They use the camera editing technique. In this way they can overcome the lack of technological tools, filming short fiction or documentaries without the need to edit with an external tool as a computer.
Popular Communication School Alberto Grifi workshops are powered by the cultural association VISUAL COMMUNICATION PROJECT and the video group TELEIMMAGINI?, and are produced by the Self-Managed Cultural Center XM24 (Bologna, Italy).