Participatory video workshop reflects on climate in Goshoba, Sundarbans

24 April 2013 | News story

Earthcare Outreach Trust of Delhi, India, conducted a 10-day Participatory Video Workshop on the island of Goshoba in the Sunderbans. Climate fragile, with tigers on the land and salt water crocs and sharks in the water. CEC member Krishnendu Bose reports.

By Krishnendu Bose, Member of IUCN Commission on Education and Communication, Earthcare Productions

We run a not for profit called Earthcare Outreach Trust (ECO) located in Delhi, India. Our mission is to use Participatory Video (PV) with children and young adults in the age group of 13-20 years and help them create short videos on their immediate environment. Through PV workshops running eight to ten days, we help children to reconnect with their imagination and creativity, as all young people are innately creative and imaginative and create empowered communications about their lives. We have worked in the deep interiors of India’s rural and indigenous people habitations and as well as with the big cities children.

This story is about one of most climate fragile places on earth- the Sunderbans, India. This is also one of the most naturally treacherous spots in India. What with man-eating tigers on the land and salt water crocs and sharks in the water.

A little island called Goshaba

ECO conducted a 10-day Participatory Video Workshop in a little island called Goshaba in the heart of the tiger land. The 10 participating young boys and girls were from the local community and were in the age group of 18-25 years. Most were either from the fisher folk community or were agriculturists, the two of the three main livelihood sources in Sunderbans. The third is honey collection. The workshop taught them to look at their lives with re-imagined vision. The camera as a metaphor of this new vision made them see new things and in several new ways. They crafted their 10 minute video- Sunderbans- Forest Beautiful with subtle and stunning insights into the local climate change impacts through their everyday lived experiences.

‘When we look at the film we have made, our forest looks like the forest of Africa. So green, so dense, so beautiful,” one of the filmmakers said.

Framing their forest and their lives gave the young people of Goshaba a different perspective, almost a new sight. They say as much in their film. Looking through the camera makes them bring into sharp focus things, which were otherwise on the periphery of their minds. The first day when we arrived, the young people had said that there is no future left on the island. They have to go off to Kolkata or Delhi or further away if they hope to get something in life. After the film was made, they confided that when they had been asked to make a film about their own lives and their forest and river, they had thought how boring it would be. “We are bored with where we live. The same forest, the same village. There is nothing here to put into a film! The only reason we were excited was to hold the camera and actually make a film.” But somewhere during the process of making their film, they fell in love with their own village and forest.

When they saw their village in the golden early morning light, they thought how beautiful it was and how beautifully their skin looked in that light. When they filmed fishing in the river, their team members weaving in and out of the early morning fog… they thought how special and mystic their river looked. Jousting for space besides this growing love for their village was the mind, which was opening up to many questions. Are the tides turning in our river? Why are the seasons turning topsy-turvy? Why is the water gulping the islands down? What is the reason behind change in animal behavior, which has been happening from times immemorial?

When they first heard of the word climate change, this fog of questions began lifting and the missing pieces of the jigsaw puzzle began emerging out of the shadows. Once they saw their village and environment through their camera, the filmmakers could create a distance between themselves and their immediate surroundings, thereby enabling analysis and cognitive learning. A concept like climate change which was abstract and too scientific on the first day of engagement, was something they were intrigued by and definitely wanted to learn more about by interfacing it with their lived lives.

Some of these young filmmakers of Goshaba are now ready to join in any effort to understand the impacts of this change in their life brought about by the ever shifting climate. They are ready to share with the world their stories, which are being recreated every day.

Participatory Video, the process and the product can go a long way to make positive and constructive intervention into the local conservation issues.

See their film here >> 

For more information, contact Krishnendu Bose earthcare1@vsnl.com