World Social Forum and Independent Media in Nairobi, Kenya

Danielle and group in Nairobi

by Danielle Chynoweth

In January, I joined 30 independent journalists from Uganda, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Kenya met for 4 weeks in Nairobi, Kenya with a handful of folks from Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center, Prometheus Radio Project in Philadelphia, and some German indymedia activists. We came together to develop infrastructure for independent media production, while the 2007 World Social Forum was going on in Nairobi.

We build two radio stations from scratch – soldering the transmitters and cables by hand in part to build knowledge of how to maintain and repair such equipment. One station remains in Nairobi in the hands of the Kenya IMC, and the other in Kisumu in western Kenya in the hands of the small, resource strapped public Maseno University. A number of small (1/4 to 1 watt) transmitters that can broadcast to a small neighborhood and usually fall under the radar of communications commissions, were distributed to organizations in 2 Nairobi slums, 4 Ugandan communities, Nigeria IMC, Cape Town, and elsewhere.

silohuetteWe also built a 4 color printing press from scratch, printing 100 Indymedia Africa shirts and leaving the press behind for future poster and t-shirt projects.

We wrote and printed a newsletter with a run of 5,000 which we distributed at the World Social Forum, during our visits to the slums, and distributed to our delegates for distribution in their communities.

And we broadcast live as Radio Huru 107.9 FM during part of the World Social Forum from a tiny room where we interviewed a steady stream of grassroots activists – for example, we interviewed a Nigerian about the ongoing Ogoni struggle against Shell oil, a Somalian women’s group about their efforts to promote solar and sustainable energy sources and minimize the use of charcoal which is devastating their land, and gay and lesbian Kenyans in their struggle against discrimination. After a day of broadcasting, several Maseno university students said it had been the best day of their lives: “Today I got to be on the radio for the first time,” one explained. Maseno university’s speech communications department has one computer and non minidisc recorders. They teach audio and video journalism theoretically because they lack the equipment to teach hands on work.

protestQuickly noticing that most Kenyans were not able to attend the World Social Forum because of the registration costs, we visited three of the biggest slums of Nairobi, hosted by community organizers we met through Kenya IMC. In round table discussions, we interviewed dozens of people focusing on housing, education, media access, and youth issues. In Korogocho, a half million person slum, we met with Koch FM, a new low power station. With the additional support offered by our Urbana funders, we were able to sponsor 10 Koch FM media activists to attend the World Social Forum and work with our Independent Media Center there. We were also able to sponsor 2 members of Koch FM and 2 members of Proactive Youth Kangemi to travel to Maseno University with Prometheus Radio to help teach radio skills.

The most important thing we did was to build solidarity across borders in the long term effort to build global independent media networks. We have built strong relationships with plans for future collaborations. We worked closely with a group called Pro-active Youth in the slum of Kangemi. They do everything from organizing the removal of large steaming piles of garbage to educating youth about their Constitutional rights in a neighborhood familiar with police sweeps. They have built a network of 32 groups and meet in the abandoned police station…

Posted in Activism

Exuberant Performance Workshops

Create your own One Woman (Man) Band!: Learn to multi-play various musical instruments.
Waltzing Marching Band Take to the streets with a big band full of unusual instruments.
Vaudeville, not Awed-ville Going back to the 1930’s, learn to be a performative ‘jack/jill of all trades’, rather than an expert in one.
One Man Band

Ongoing Composition/Performance Projects

Pester Power! A collaborative compostion made by SDaS 2013-2014, now a kid’s performance to empower adults to help them change the world.
Collaboration with writer Faranak Miraftab and her book Making a Home in the Heartland: Immigration and Global Labor Mobility We’re in the process of creating a touring program based on this book.
“My Work in the Light of Herbert and Marianne Brun” Presentation/workshop series by local and visiting artists and activists.

Who is invited?

Since we all live with the consequences of the current design of society, everyone is invited to participate in designing a different one. No particular educational background is required; the prerequisite is the desire to participate in designing a society.

Apply

To apply to participate in the School for Designing a Society, please fill out the form to the left and you will be contacted for a phone interview.

To contact admissions, email Melanie at applications@designingasociety.net.

Who is invited?

Since we all live with the consequences of the current design of society, everyone is invited to participate in designing a different one. No particular educational background is required; the prerequisite is the desire to participate in designing a society.

Apply

To apply to participate in the School for Designing a Society, please fill out the form here and you will be contacted for a phone interview.

To contact admissions, email Melanie at applications@designingasociety.net.

Who is invited?

Since we all live with the consequences of the current design of society, everyone is invited to participate in designing a different one. No particular educational background is required; the prerequisite is the desire to participate in designing a society.

Apply

To apply to participate in the School for Designing a Society, please fill out the form to the left and you will be contacted for a phone interview.

To contact admissions, email Melanie at applications@designingasociety.net.

Film Emphasis In the fall of 2013, the School for Designing a Society began to put more emphasis on the medium of video, with forays into the creation of Public Service Announcements as part of the larger SDAS collaboration project. We will continue with this emphasis in 2014. Under what circumstances will a composition of sound, text and moving image provoke curiosity, action, reflection, and change of mind?

Collaboration with writer & urban planner, Faranak Miraftab This Spring 2014 SDaS participants have been invited to work with writer and urban planner, Faranak Miraftab on theatricalizing texts from her book, Making a Home in the Heartland: Immigration and Global Labor Mobility. The book is based on interviews with Cargil employees in Beardstown illinois. The idea would be to create a touring program based on these texts/interviews. Writers, musicians, poets, dancers, activists are invited to work on this collaboration.

apply no particular educational background is required; the prerequisite is the desire to participate in designing a society.

upcoming read about our upcoming programs and workshops in the fall, spring & summer.

courses listed both alphabetically and by topic & a number of interdisciplinary programs cross boundaries between disciplines.

what happens? designing a society is a project that intersects the formats of classroom, commune, performance ensemble, activist group.

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CONTACT School for Designing a Society, P.O. Box 307, Urbana, IL 61803

be your own one-woman-band! (one-man band!) august 31-september 7, 2014 | clowning & caring in Costa Rica.

fall session october 1–november 24, 2014| Urbana, IL.

apply no particular educational background is required; the prerequisite is the desire to participate in designing a society.

upcoming read about our upcoming programs and workshops for this year.

courses listed both alphabetically and by topic & a number of interdisciplinary programs cross boundaries between disciplines.

what happens? designing a society is a project that intersects the formats of classroom, commune, performance ensemble, activist group.

Make a donation to SDaS





Linked projects

Here is an incomplete list of projects, most of them active, which have a history of connection with the School for Designing a Society and its participants.

The Gesundheit! Institute
Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center
CU Citizens for Peace and Justice
American Society for Cybernetics
Allen Hall Unit One
Occupy CU
Education Justice Project
Urbana Public Arts Program
Oddmusic UC
Makerspace Urbana
CU Community Fab Lab
Iraq Veterans Against the War
Educational Resources in Environmental Science
Allied Media Conference
Haja Center (Seoul, South Korea)
La Casa Grande Collectiva
The Big Neighborhood Orchard
Urbana Permaculture Project
Dreamtime Village (Wisconsin)
Spineless Books
St. Jude Catholic Worker