Celine

Celine Tschirhart

Royal Holloway University of London
Egham, United Kingdom

Between Videos, Photostories, Best Practices and Handbook

Field Report n°12

June 13, 2013

This is a personal account from Dr Céline Tschirhart, Post-Doctoral Researcher in the COBRA project, who traveled to the North Rupununi from 18 May to 4 June 2013.

I arrived in Bina Hill on the 18th of May 2013, after a very smooth flight from Georgetown.  As I arrived on a Saturday, it gave me a couple of days to adjust to my new home for the next few weeks, and to prepare myself for the tasks at hand. There were two main objectives for this trip. The first one was to provide as much guidance as possible as to how to finish off the videos and photostories of local best practices. Grace Albert, Rebecca Xavier, Ryan Benjamin and Lakeram Haynes, the North Rupununi team, had been working for the past 4 months on 6 videos and 6 photostories that show locally-owned best practices, with the aim of making them accessible to, and replicable by, other communities. The second main objective was to get the North Rupununi team’s feedback on the Handbook. This Practitioner’s Handbook had been written by the European team (Jay Mistry, Andrea Berardi, Elisa Bignante, Matt Simpson and Céline Tschirhart) for the past 2 months. It will be used by the COBRA team to carry out the next and final step of COBRA: sharing best practices with other communities of the Guiana Shield. It will also be used by other practitioners who might be willing to identify and promote community-owned solutions applying the range of methods and approaches we have used within COBRA.

Project COBRA – Creative Commons

Our working sessions started on Monday 20th May, with our welcoming of two new members to COBRA: Aliki Haynes and Bernie Robertson!  From Monday to Friday, we screened the videos and photostories that had been done so far. As a group, we all gave some useful feedback after each screening. I provided particular support for structuring the message: indeed, the message has to be clear for other communities, as they will choose one of the best practices and implement it, step-by-step, in their own community. As soon as one video or photostory was commented on, a member of the team responsible for it would immediately start working on it. We can say the action learning cycle was going at incredible speed: “Observe! Reflect! Plan! Act!“ At the end of this first week, we had all made amazing progress, the messages were shaping up, the stories were getting more and more visual. Unfortunately, we had to leave them aside, as the Handbook was the next week’s task…

Project COBRA – Creative Commons

The second week started on Tuesday 28th May, as Guyana was celebrating its Independence on the 27th. The riverine community of Crash Water had agreed to work with us for two days, so that we could trial the Handbook and provide some training related to COBRA to this community which hadn’t had the opportunity to participate in COBRA activities so far. So on Tuesday and Wednesday, Grace, Rebecca, Aliki, Bernie, Ryan and Lakeram reviewed the Handbook and started preparing for the trip. Then on Thursday and Friday they carried out the planned activities in Crash Water, while I was carefully observing, eager to get as much useful tips as possible for the final version of the Handbook.

Finally, Monday 3rd June was our last day. While Rebecca, Lakeram and Aliki left for the Rewa community in order to capture some footage, Grace, Bernie and Ryan worked with me in the office, reflecting on the activities that had been carried out in Crash Water, and working hard on their videos and photostories.

When I left for Georgetown on Tuesday morning I felt it had all gone by too quickly. However, if Best Practices are certainly the most challenging step of COBRA, they are also the most interesting phase of COBRA, and these 6 great videos and photostories, once completed, will be one of the most fascinating outcomes of the project!

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