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Congratulations New, Rising Voices

The inaugural group of Rising Voices citizen media outreach projects have given us new and powerful voices from communities that previously were rarely seen participating online. Last month we put out a call for new citizen media outreach proposals, of which five would be selected to join our current projects based in Bangladesh, Bolivia, Colombia, India, and Sierra Leone.

In total we received 63 project proposals from over 35 different countries. Although the quantity of applications was less than the 142 we received in July, the quality and innovation that stood out throughout all of this round's proposals made the selection process far more difficult. The overwhelming response to the latest Rising Voices grant competition is, once again, a testament to the global enthusiasm for citizen media from rural Uganda to Orthodox communities in Israel, from the mountains of Guatemala to the working class neighborhoods of Serbia.

The five grant winners are representative of the innovation, purpose and good will that Rising Voices aims to support.

Youth Media Consultative Forum in Nakuru, Kenya

Dennis Kimambo, Collins Oudour, and the rest of the REPACTED team will train residents living on the outskirts of Nakuru, Kenya to collect local news and stories and share them with an international audience through the use of photography, blogging, video, and a local print magazine. REPACTED will continue its use of Magnet Theater to encourage participants to openly discuss taboo topics like HIV transmission. You can read REPACTED's full proposal on the wiki.

Iran Inside Out: A Videoblogging Initiative

Shaghayegh Azimi and fellow veteran Iranian videobloggers will partner with the Tehran-based Young Cinema Society to identify aspiring young filmmakers and teach them the skills to both produce compelling short videos and publish them online. In her proposal Shaghayegh writes, “the two most important goals we hope to accomplish are 1) to introduce and inspire Iranian youth of underrepresented communities to engage in interaction with the global online community and especially the videoblogging community and 2) to educate and inspire tolerance of Iran through human stories.” You can see examples of Shaghayegh's previous work on PBS's Frontline/World website.

Bloggers Desde la Infancia (Bloggers Since Infancy) – Uruguay

The One Laptop per Child (OLPC) project created by faculty members of the MIT Media Lab has received an enormous amount of international media attention as it tries to realize the goal of equipping every student across the world with a laptop computer. But, for the most part, we still have yet to see how young students in Uruguay, Peru, Nigeria, and beyond will use the small, neon-green laptops. Pablo Flores of Ceibal, the governmental organization in charge of distributing OLPC laptops in Uruguay, will organize a series of workshops which will gather national and international bloggers with the young laptop-toting students to show them how to set up a blog and take advantage of other social media tools. Later on, award ceremonies will provide incentives to the new bloggers to share their community stories both locally and internationally. Pablo's full proposal is available (in Spanish) on the wiki.

Bringing Malagasy Forumists to the World of Citizen Journalism – Madagascar

Serasera is a popular Malagasy-language discussion forum based in Antananarivo, Madagascar with over 400 active members. Mialy Andriamananjara, Lova Rakotomalala, Harijanka and other members of the Foko Madagascar team will outreach to this active community of internet forumists and teach them how to participate in the global community of blogs, podcasts, and online video. In their proposal, they emphasize that the project will give the participants “a voice and a digital imprint in the world … Also it is a way for the world to have a glimpse of Malagasy ideas, work and perspective on the world.”

Diary of an Inmate – Jamaica

As project founder Kevin Wallen points out, “over the last two years, Jamaica with a population of 2.6 million, has been branded internationally as the ‘murder capital of the world.’ Already, 2007 has racked up a murder rate of over 1,400 individuals.” Much of Jamaica's culture of crime has been blamed on the popular veneration of gang leaders. The Diary of an Inmate project will attempt to confront this ‘badboy veneration” by training current prison inmates to blog and podcast. As Kevin describes the goals of project: “Through blogging, inmates will be able to tell their stories. They will be able to paint a realistic picture of life behind bars and the consequences of crime. Currently, Jamaica’s music and media idolize the ‘badman’ or ‘shotta’ and portray as role models those who have been incarcerated. Many of our youths now think that prison is a ‘cool’ place to be, until they themselves are faced with the harsh truth. The Diary of an Inmate blog will allow all Jamaicans to learn about the realities of Jamaica’s overcrowded prison system with the hope that this will counteract the false ideas implanted by the media.”

We are thrilled to welcome these five new projects to the ever-expanding and maturing community of Rising Voices citizen media activists.

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