Photovoice is a participatory photography project that empowers people to participate in the dialogue of their community and its development. Combining photos, words and digital media production methods, photovoice projects provide a platform for marginalized members of communities to express their views of the world as they see it through the lens of a camera. Using the power of the still image, participants gain the tools to raise awareness in their community and to tell their own story.
Check out this video of Tim Wray, the project lead, explaining Photovoice on FarmOn.com!
The Young Adult Photovoice Project
Created and led by Tim Wray, pastor of St. Peter’s Evangelical Lutheran Church between Millet and Pigeon Lake, and funded through the Alberta Rural Development Network (ARDN), the Young Adult Photovoice Project was developed as a way of bringing young adults together to talk about what it’s like to be a young person in rural Alberta and to create a venue to share their insights with the community. Many young people in our rural Alberta neighbourhoods feel disconnected from each other and their community. There are many contributing factors to this reality — the need to leave the community for training and work, the migratory nature of our culture, the shrinking role of local community associations and organizations in shaping communities, and the loss of a shared, overarching community story.
Over the course of 10 weeks, 12 young adults from rural communities learned about photography, took photos, and shared stories about their lives in rural Alberta. These efforts culminated in a photo exhibit in Pipestone, Alberta, where galleries of rural life — industry and equipment, life on the road, family, domestic animals, philosophy and faith, wildlife, plants,and landscapes — were put on display for an audience of more than 250 people. Complemented by food and live music performances, the exhibit was the product of community collaboration with St. Peter’s Lutheran Women’s Group, the ARDN, the Wetaskiwin Regional Public School Board, the Centre for Rural Community Leadership and Ministry, a rock band from Lacombe, the Alberta College of Art and Design, the Anglican Diocese of Edmonton and many volunteers.
Though the long-term impact of the event is still being researched, in the short term the Young Adult Photovoice Project:
- brought people together who would otherwise not have had a venue to meet as a community;
- celebrated rural life and revealed just how much goes on even in smaller communities;
- affirmed the place and importance of young adults in rural Alberta;
- created energy in the community, possibly leading to another event;
- developed leadership skills in the young adult participants; and
- gave participants and visitors alike a chance to step back and ponder the deeper, more enduring things in life.
If you’d like to see the results of the Young Adult Photovoice Project, take a look at the gallery.
If you’d like to hold a photovoice project in your community, take a look at this how-to.