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We finished the first round of video production training! On Monday December 3rd, 20 Spanish-speaking immigrants received diplomas for successfully completing the first in a series of workshops in which they were trained in video production and basic web skills. This project, developed by the Media Mobilizing Project with Mexican immigrant community based organization JUNTOS is called, Our City, Our Voices: Immigrant Newscasts in the Digital Age. To remind people, the goal of the project is to give Philadelphia’s newest inhabitants the capacity to tell their own stories and document their struggles through short digital videos. At the forefront of the growing wave of community journalism projects, Our City Our Voices is innovative in its goal of creating a community driven journalism project, which connects those most silenced, to new video technologies and Philadelphia’s wireless network.

To those ends, while we are training folks in basic web skills, video production and basic computer use, we are also a Wireless Internet Provider (WIP) with Philadelphia’s municipal wireless system. Through this partnership we are offering individuals wireless Internet for a year along with a basic computer, a router and technical support at little cost, to make sure they have the tools to get online. We believe this pushes the boundaries and ways that “citizen” or public journalism is conceived, as it works with those with the fewest opportunities to speak, but also aims to actually get those people the tools to be a vocal part of the digital age.

Now that the first round of participants have finished the training aspect of the project they will take scripts developed during the workshops and turn them into videos on themes ranging from worker’s rights and life in South Philadelphia to lack of access to higher education. Through this project, people from Mexico to Chile, working as carpenters, cooks, laborers and nannies, and ranging in age from 16-60 will begin the process of creating mini-documentaries. The common denominator amongst these new media makers is to illustrate the challenges and hopes of leaving your home and living in a place that does not know your history.

Ultimately, the project aims to promote respect and create a shared understanding of the stories and struggles of Philadelphia’s diverse communities. In this first stage, participants were Latino immigrants and the workshops were given in Spanish by Gabriel Berrios, co-developer of the project and specialist in audiovisual production. During the second phase of the project the training is being offered in English to other groups of immigrants as well as workers, students and other folks that are rarely offered the opportunity to speak.

Through “Our City Our Voices” we aim to create community driven journalism, so that the various groups in Philadelphia working for social change can promote and spread consciousness about their struggle and eventually develop better living conditions here in the city and beyond.