Latin America (CASA): 

Video Documentation and Educational Tools for Community Development

A Solution provided by Común Tierra, Latin America

With the rural exodus and the deterioration of rural communities, many traditional skills and decentralized solutions are threatened with extinction. On the other hand, local communities that are determined to remain and continue to develop don´t have access to globally shared knowledge. The Común Tierra Project has stepped into this gap and works as a bridgebuilder and information carrier for numerous remote communities in Latin America.

Letícia Rigatti and Ryan Luckey created a model for the use of multimedia documentation as a tool for project development, replication of successful solutions, and network building. A central strand of this model is grassroots video documentation, in which they travel to document both practical projects and inspirational examples of networks in action. These materials build a library of real-life success stories to inspire change-makers in local communities.

Their interactive website model maps initiatives visited and facilitates information flow and exchange between projects and communities. Using photo, audio and video materials, Ryan and Letícia facilitate contact and exchange between communities and the public. This approach creates ripple effects which amplify the benefits of local actions while directly supporting projects in fulfilling their own goals.

One Example: Teaching over 200,000 people how to build and use Bicycle-Powered Machines
While working in Mexico in 2010, Ryan and Letícia discovered Bicycle-Powered Machines (bike-machines), a low-tech solution that makes many daily tasks easier for low-income and rural communities. Washing clothes, grinding grains and seeds, blending, mixing, and pumping ground water are some of the applications of bike-machines that they initially documented. Letícia: "We witnessed how bike-machines increase community resilience, and are especially applicable to areas with weak or intermittent electricity infrastructure. We created a multi-faceted strategy to teach communities throughout Latin America how to build and use bike-machines."

The first step was to build a dual-function bike-machine with Carlos Cruz in Oaxaca, Mexico, to carry with them during their travels, which over the course of 6 years has served as a live demonstration for hundreds of workshops and events. During the build, Ryan and Letícia recorded and produced a video showing how to build a similar bike-machine, which has now been seen online over 160,000 times. They also screened the short film in dozens of local communities and during festivals, workshops and other events. A link to the original short film can be found here:

Ryan: "This is just one example of how our work takes a small project or action and amplifies it to engage many more people. This is the power of the Común Tierra model."
In this case, through these diverse channels, their combined live and multimedia outreach has reached over 200,000 people, inspiring the implementation of bike-machines throughout Latin America.


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