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

Emphases

Microtonal Design, or Alternative Crystallizations of the Pitch Continuum No aspect of music has become more rigidified in our minds and practice than the potential of musical pitch. Out of the vast pitch continuum, we find ourselves making the same non-choice over and over again: 12 equal divisions of the octave. Are alternatives possible, and do they make any sense? Yes! Join us for an exploratory seminar at the School for Designing a Society in Urbana, Illinois. Expertise unnecessary; only a willingness to un-stick yourself in good company.

Cybernetics and Social Change Cybernetics as an interdisciplinary field of study was proposed in the 20th century by scientists who wanted to fight fascism. From this study there ensued various unexpected theoretical and practical attempts and tendencies. A starting point for this course will be the view of cybernetics as a praxis for generating radical projects. Radical: getting at the roots of a problem; changing whole frameworks. The questions of cybernetics—regulation, self-regulation? observation, self-observation? stability, dynamics?—are invited to help actively answer the questions of social change: which social? how change?

Liberation Ecology What does sustainability look like when it refuses to sustain white supremacy? What is the meaning of liberation in a civilization that cannot feed or fuel itself? The choice between ecological objectives and social objectives is lose-lose. Rather than make it, we can unveil the connections between the two sets of issues, and create strategies for change that build on those connections. This class will weave together two elements: principles of ecological design, and exploration of the relationship between real and desired ecosystems and real and desired societies.

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 click here and you will be contacted for a phone interview.

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

Keep in Touch! Subscribe to our Newsletter.

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

register fill out the registration form here.

Keep in Touch! Subscribe to our Newsletter.

House Parties Procedure

How do I sign up? What do I do?

1. Contact Yael at 360-350-9904 to schedule a live performance of Pester Power at a time convenient for you and your neighbors.

2. Invite your neighbors to your house, to see the live performance. (It’s 25 minutes long, fun, performed by kids).

3. After the performance, participate in a discussion about ways you and neighbors can change environmental and racial climate over the next 2 months (a member of Urbana’s Sustainability Advisory Commission would be happy to help). Make a commitment to take certain steps in an action plan.

4. Meet a few more times with your neighbors in October and November, to check in on your action plan.

5. Join us in a celebration of Urbana Pester Power House Parties at the Independent Media Center, 122 Broadway in Urbana, December 13th a 2pm. Meet other neighborhood Pester Power Party groups!

Does this cost anything?

No. The performers (all kids) are excited to empower you adults to help them to change the world! The Urbana Sustainability Advisory Commission is delighted to work with you.

Keep in Touch! Subscribe to our Newsletter.





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 the year.

touring read about our touring and performance schedules for the 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.

Stay in Touch

Keep in Touch! Subscribe to our Newsletter.





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 click here and you will be contacted for a phone interview.

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

Keep in Touch! Subscribe to our Newsletter.


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.

Keep in Touch! Subscribe to our Newsletter.

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 click here 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.