Warszawa Lab. Urban Lab for Media Education. Manual
The Association of Creative Initiatives „ę” has supported cultural animators, institutions and organisations working for social change in their local communities since 2002.
From the very beginning we have also collaborated with young creators - on the one hand we offer support in the development of their own projects, on the other, we stimulate interdisciplinary activities that use creative tools for the purpose of describing reality and understanding it better. Next to film and photography we use the tools of the new media and new technologies increasingly often. In conversational sense it is still opposed to the „analogue” reality: the digital world „steals” us away from real life and stops from participating in it in full. At the same time the digital reality favours mostly those who understand its rules organically - young people from privileged communities with access to good quality equipment and, seemingly, an easier life in contemporaneity.
Many people (not only those born in the 21st century) moved the most important space of building and sustaining their social iden- tities to the web. Those who don’t accept it can protest in private by not signing up with social networking websites or deleting their accounts and abstain from downloading new apps to their smart- phones. For us - just as for many other cultural organisations and institutions of culture - this is not a choice between zeros and ones. Warszawa Lab is a project in which we have attempted to stimulate the „analogue” reality by means of digital tools. We have used new media and new technologies in a way that doesn’t cut away from reality but, to the contrary, brings it closer and lets us influence it. Thanks to the participation of many partners - from urban activists to NT experts - we were able to experiment for over a year and to turn Warsaw into an Urban Lab for Media Education.
Let us present a short manual to the program: its participants and audiences, ideas and the course of activities.
The first part of the manual describes the conducted actions - a series of intensive workshops for the youth of Warsaw. In this part we also present 3 workshop scenarios that use new media and new ￼￼technologies to reflect upon the city. The scenarios are based on the formula of our publication Ideas to be Realised, where we present almost 100 examples of various animation activities.
In the second part we present a mini-report from the Warsaw Media EDUaction - a seminar for the Warsaw-based communities dealing with media education.
The last text of this manual is a sociological attempt of defining the target groups of animation activities in a big city and how those ac- tivities should be designed in order to avoid clear-cut labelling of their participants.
Each of the meetings had a separate subject - from history, to the citizens, to urban activists. All topics were connected by the fresh and personal point of view on Warsaw and by the search for places, stories and people who try to change their surroundings for the bet- ter, take responsibility and actively shape their space. Our goal was to interpret the topics related to Warsaw with the use of specific tools of the new media - from audio-visual tools, to simple software and apps, to the tools of new technologies. The results - short videos, podcasts, visual materials etc. were marked on a map on the project website. Producing this specific „hard” evidence of our workshops was one of our goals. Equally important (if not the most important) was fa- miliarizing the participants with significant Warsaw-related current topics of social interest - with the ways the city changes and how active citizens contribute to that change.
We have invited institutions, organisations and personalities who are models and benchmarks in promoting grassroots civic thinking about the city to collaborate with us. They became guides for our participants. They presented the fields of their work and invited the participants to take part in civic activities for the city. Experts from the field of media and new technologies facilitated the meetings. Using digital tools in the frames of very specific topics and working with our participants proved an important experience for them. We hope they will draw from it in their future activities.
Each workshop was dedicated to a specific topic related to the city. The effects of the work can be watched at wawalab.e.org.pl by click-ing pins on the map.
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