A lot of people talk about producing “community media”, without pausing to get clarity on what is meant by “community”. This workshop encourages participants to reflect on the meaning of community, to consider which communities they identify themselves as belonging to, the strengths and challenges that they perceive their community as facing, and the role of media in those perceptions.

Goals

  • Engage in a critical evaluation of media representations
  • Confidence-building through self-identification

Participants

  • Unlimited

Equipment/Supplies

  • Butcher’s Paper
  • Markers

Instructions

  • Brainstorm. Write the word COMMUNITY in the centre of a big piece of paper. Ask participants to call out what they think of when they think of community, and record their responses in a cloud of words surrounding the term. Responses might include synonyms (eg. group, family, neighbourhood…), or associations (eg. safety, togetherness, diversity…).
  • Build on the brainstorm by proposing a definition of community to the group:

COMMUNITY: a set of people who share a common geography, experience, identity, practice, and/or values.

  • Discuss the definition, and try to generate a long list of communities that the group can think of. Try to cover a range of types of communities to ensure participants have a wide definition of the term. Examples could include geographical communities (eg Bankstown, the Pilbara region), national/ethnic/linguistic, religious, economic class, shared experience/practice (eg war veterans, video gamers, artists…etc).
  • Draw a set of four concentric circles on a large piece of paper, creating a bullseye pattern. Label each ring of the bullseye as you describe the instructions for how each participant is going to complete their own Community Circles.
  1. Centre Circle: YOUR NAME – or a self-portrait, tag, symbol that identifies you
  2. Second Ring: COMMUNITY – write the name of, or draw something to identify a community that you are a part of.
  3. Third Ring: STRENGTHS – write or draw some things that you are proud of in your community. Think about where your community’s power lies.
  4. Fourth Ring: STRUGGLES – what are some challenges, problems, obstacles that your community faces?
  5. Outside the rings: MEDIA REPRESENTATIONS – how do the media represent your community? In the four corners of the page, outside of the bullseye, write or draw how the community is represented in the media. Encourage participants to be as specific as possible about where they have seen examples when listing these media representations. Try and use each corner of the page to list examples from different types of media (eg. TV, radio, newspapers/magazines, etc)

 

  • Participants should be given ample time to build their pages, and if they feel that they have exhausted all that they can say about the first community that they’re describing, they can move on to a second community that they identify with. Facilitators should circulate around the room checking in with participants for understanding and pushing each to be critical in their reflection.
  • Once all participants have completed this exercise, reconvene the group, and ask for volunteers to share their pages.

 

Process with the following questions:

  1. How did it feel to reflect on yourself and your community in this way?
  2. What similarities did you notice between the struggles that the various communities discussed face?
  3. What do the media representations you noted have to do with the strengths and struggles of your community? Are those media representations coming from people inside or outside of the community?

 

Other Things to Try

  • Depending on your goals and the composition of your group, you might choose to let participants self-identify their communities OR you can focus on one community that the group shares, and check for the various perceptions of that community among the group.
  • In advance of doing this workshop, have participants begin collecting media representations of their communities to bring in and present to the group.

Storytelling Prompts | Finding Topics to Explore

Morgan Sully, 2010.  Coming up with a worthy topic for a story can be tricky, but it doesn’t have to be.  Here’s a few prompts to get you started. Participants Can work for small or large groups.  Not much technology is needed for this activity. Skills/Technique This...