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Citizen Journalism, Media-Makers

Citizen Journalism, Media-Makers

Shadia Fayne Wood, Project Survival Media

Visual storytelling makes sense and a huge impact when it comes to communities facing environmental problems. Work on the digital front of crisis after crisis is focused on comprehensive coverage, unlimited by mainstream regiments and bringing the power of social media to create social change.

“There’s tremendous power to be had by leveraging this new media,” says Shadia Fayne Wood, founder and director of Project Survival Media.

Project Survival Media trains young people in countries across the world to tell stories about local climate solutions using visual media like photography and video.

Visual media is not considered as a substitute for on-the-ground organizing, however it is bringing a tremendous amount of people to recognizing the importance of first hand documentation. It’s brought tremendous reassurance to concerned environmentalists when the mainstream press won’t cover an environmental disaster.

If you haven’t heard about Shadia’s conversation with President Obama in 2011 when a group of young people, mostly from communities disproportionately impacted by dirty energy met at the White House to discuss why youth are disillusioned with the President, it’s worth noting and reading about. Although the meeting between the group and the President showed how the President believed that they really needed to pressure Congress, Shadia felt that it was his responsibility to further explain, even when it seemed that members of his team were sticking to their position.  She told the President:

“Thousands of young people all over the country are becoming disillusioned with the president because, when you create a ‘Clean Energy Standard’ that includes coal, natural gas, and nuclear energy, we know it isn’t clean. We come from communities where thousands of people are dying because of these energy sources. Call it a ‘necessary transition,’ if you need to. But don’t call it ‘clean.’ You lose young people every time you call it clean.”

Speaking truth to power.

Her reason for starting Project Survival Media in 2009 was that she knew that young people are terrified about the world they are going to inherit. They want to fight climate change in inspiring creative ways and believe they can coordinate change in unfathomable ways. Not dissuaded by failures at UN climate negotiations, even as Project Survival Media aimed to change the outcome to a positive one, she has continuously supported grassroots efforts.

At 20 years of age, she became a leader of the Campus Climate Challenge when over 700 campuses and high schools held a youth national summit in Washington DC in 2007. At that time, said that her generation outnumbers baby-boomers by three million and they are fighting for their lives. Since then, she’s focused on heavy lobbying efforts.

At age 7, she was already involving herself as an advocate for justice and the environment, in an eight-year campaign to pass state legislation to take responsibility and act against the cancer clusters and deaths in her community. In recognition of her achievements, she received the Yoshiyama Award from the Hitachi Foundation and the Brower Youth Award from the Earth Island Institute.

She’s learned since then how to harness the power of the internet. She uses youtube to share tips to other community organizers.

Grassroots Fundraising Tactics

She managed media teams for all national summits on climate change for We are Power Shift in 2007, 2009, and 2011 and coordinated the media team for the Youth Delegation at UN Climate Negotiations in 2008 and 2009. While critics of the Occupy movement only saw troublemakers, rabble-rousers and students with no basis to complain or as whiners, Shadia talked about the valuable ways in which Occupy documented its own movement. In 2012, She noted,

How one visualizes and feels a part of a movement is by being able to see what you’re a part of and it’s growing.”

In 2013, she participated in the Forward on Climate Rally, Washington, DC.

She was inspired by Bridge the Gulf whose mission is to lift up the voices of Gulf Coast communities working towards a healthy, just and sustainable future.

Sources: truthout, Yes! Magazine, Green Kingdom Come! Jesus and a Sustainable Earth Community by Joe Grabill, Facebook, MobLab, Vimeo, Kindleproject.org

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