Take up a challenge – visualise democracy!

December 04, 2013 | Blog-Admin1 | Learning Elsewhere, Methods & Tools |


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Have you ever tried to imagine democracy? How does it look like? Do you see it as close as your neighbourhood or as far as the national state? We posed similar questions to more than 20 citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina. They were challenged to revoke, analyse and visualise very intimate relationships in the society and their bonds with the state. This process created new spaces for people – space for revoking personal stories, space for visualisation of experiences, space for learning, space for establishing relationships, and space for deepening knowledge about democracy.

By Snezana Mišić Mihajlović,  Centre for Management, Development and Planning, Doboj, Bosnia and Herzegovina

The pilot project in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Many stories never get told simply because people are never asked to share them. This is often the destiny of stories on democracy – many think it is a topic for politicians, not for people!?  Therefore, I am very happy that the project for capitalizing decentralization and local governance in Bosnia and Herzegovina captured part of the citizens’ realities related to the citizenship, participation and democracy Citizen Engagement – Info about project

Two types of visual methods

We used the following visual methods in our workshops:

Digital storytelling (DST): Participants made individual narratives, in the form of digital stories, about their perspectives on democracy, participation and local governance. An Introduction to Digital Storytelling by MDP
Participatory video (PV): Participants divided in groups and moved from individual narratives towards the collective analysis and synthesis of the digital stories. They articulated several common ideas for PVs which emerged from the digital stories. An Introduction to Participatory Video by MDP


Democracy can have many faces

As a result of the project, we have a collection of 22 digital stories, 4 video interviews with municipal mayors and 3 participatory videos which illustrate very diverse faces of democracy – reconciliation, poverty, access to theatre and music, community actions of youth and volunteers. Each story describes a moment or period of change experienced by an individual or by a group. Each story conveys messages about the role of citizens in society and about relationships between citizens and the state.

Clip 2_Leila:

Clip 3_Leila and Zoran:

The thrill of learning new things

The desire to learn new things was the main driver for participants’ engagement in the project. Trainers succeeded to ensure informal and conducive working atmosphere which provided safe space for participants to speak freely about ‘hidden’ parts of themselves. All participants had their ups and downs in learning new skills. For some people it was difficult to master ICT skills, for others to communicate using visuals. In the end, all were happy with new knowledge, new experiences and new relationships.

Clip 4_Rasid:

What was appreciated by authors of digital stories?

Acquiring new social skills such as story writing, creative thinking and communicating in visual way, working in groups, teams and individually.

Gaining new ICT skills, knowledge of new software packages and basic filming skills.

Discovering the potential of digital stories for promotion and lobbying for new ideas.

Expressing the own story and being listened to in the group, during the workshop, and by broader audience, when promoting stories afterwards.

Feeling of being recognized and respected as citizen.

Having the opportunity to meet people from other organizations and build the basis for future relationships with like-minded people.

Clip 5_Snezana:
Source: “Throwing a Rock at the Moon”, a documentary about the project produced by IDS

All video materials are at disposal for future SDC programming and for triggering public dialogue on hard-to-discuss issues in Bosnia and Herzegovina.


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