Advocacy can be tricky work – convincing someone that their voice can make a difference is hard, especially when that person has had their voice silenced in many other ways. One tool that has been used is called ‘photovoice,’ an opportunity for individuals to share their experiences by taking photographs in their community.
Witness to Hunger is a similar project that gained recognition in the movie A Place at the Table. That project is described as “a project about the participation and action of those who know firsthand the experience of raising a child on a limited income. The photographers of the project are mothers and caregivers of young children who used digital cameras to frame the issues most important to them and to their children. Exhibiting their photographs to the public is only the first step in this dialogue. They are using these photographs and their life experiences to inform policymakers and make changes in their own communities. They are living testimony of the need for legislation to put an end to hunger and poverty.”
The project we’re doing in East Whatcom County has similar goals. Last fall, the Foothills Community Food Partnership held a food summit to talk about the challenges residents face to getting healthy food. The participants from our photovoice project, happening in tandem with our Mobile Food Pantry at the East Whatcom Regional Resource Center and with tremendous help and support from the Whatcom Public Health Department, are out in the community taking pictures right now! Next they will choose which photos they think best represent both the challenges and opportunities they face related to food, write captions to describe what the photos mean, and hold multiple exhibitions in the community to share the results. The hope is that the photos will help show policy makers and funders how they can make positive change to increase access to fresh, healthy food in East Whatcom County.
We’re excited to share some of the photos once they’re ready!