Be the Change: A creative workshop
by Allan LEONARD for Northern Ireland Foundation
21 January 2016

At a creative workshop entitled “Be the Change”, hosted by the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building (CDPB), in partnership with Twitter, over 50 participants spent the afternoon developing and pitching proposed campaigns for social change in Northern Ireland.

Examples included reaching out to local communities to increase access to The MAC (#stepinside); removing the fear of food, in all its dimensions (#food360); promoting Northern Ireland as a creative capital (#NI2030); addressing the misuse of alcohol; challenging racial prejudice; making politics in Northern Ireland more positive (#positivepolitics); and readdressing the concepts of beauty and self-esteem (#takebackbeautiful).

NIF 20160121 Be the Change - MyAngle
Polona ROGINA, Emma HUTCHESON, Neil HUTCHESON, Chris EISENSTADT, and Allan LEONARD. #myangle #bethechange

I sat at the table that developed a proposal to use crowd-based photography to show the many dimensions of numerous social issues: #myangle.

This was conceptualised by Neil Hutcheson, from Include Youth, and his partner, Emma, almost accidentally after taking dozens of photographs of municipal street cleaners in Belfast. These were collated into a single volume, Angles Magazine, which contains no body text.

NIF 20160121 Be the Change - Angles Mag

The revelation was that this could be applied to a wide variety of thematic social issues.

For example, you could ask people to take a photo, with their smartphone, of what the health service means to them. Maybe this is an image of medicine packets, an ambulance, or a relative who receives care at home. Individuals would upload and tweet their images with hashtag #myangle.

Then at the end of the month, say, a guest editor or team would review the images and make a large and broad selection to be brought together for a singular publication. This would be ideally a print issue, so that it could be brought back into communities and groups for further discussion.

The objective of #myangle is to hear as many perspectives on themes that affect our daily lives.

The images produced will challenge our own prejudices and reveal the interdependency of our society.

This campaign would be delivered in partnership with community and voluntary groups throughout the province.

Indeed, it will be in face-to-face post-publication discussions where critical thinking skills will be enhanced, through training and facilitation.

Success will be measured both quantitatively and qualitatively.

We want individual themes to trend on Twitter, with knowledge of geography and demographics of the tweets.

Endorsements from politicians and other decision makers and opinion formers should demonstrate respect from the entire community.

But most rewarding will be to learn how #myangles campaigns affect community work on the ground, as well as public policy.

As I briefly explained during a BBC Radio Good Morning Ulster programme (1:45 below), so many people already take and upload photos onto social media.

Now let’s do it for positive social change.


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