May 2003 Archives

In Quito, Ecuador, during a February 3, 2003 meeting of the International Study Commission on Media, Religion and Culture, an important video was presented by the Afro-Ecuatorian Cultural Center. The title is "The Black Woman, Creating Our Own Future."

David Morgan, Chair of the Study Commission writes: "Members of the staff of the Afro-Ecuadorian Cultural Center (ACC) made a joint presentation on their work, called �Communication and Black Culture in Ecuador.� Ximena Chal� and Gabriela Viveros, video makers and community promotion staff persons at the Center discussed the mission of the organization, in particular their work with black women in Ecuador. They screened their video, �The Black Woman, Creating Our Own Future...� It uses a poem as narrative structure.

Chal� and Viveros described the interests of the ACC as collectively social, cultural, and political. A biblical and theological concerns form the other �axis of awareness� pursued by the ACC. The Center has published 45 books on black issues and produces a quarterly bulletin (called Palenque, or �Tethering Post�), sponsored training courses, produced over 100 videos, such as �The Black Woman, Creating Our Own Future ...�. Other videos are Coangue, Afro Pastoral, Breaking the Silence.

The purpose of �The Black Woman, Creating Our Own Future...� was to show Ecuadorians that black women are present in the society and to help blacks overcome their own denial of their blackness and their African heritage.

Father Mart�n Jos� Balda, the director of the Center, also made a presentation on the historical and present situation of blacks in Ecuador. He pointed out that blacks were first brought as slaves to the country in 1553. The next wave of black immigrants consisted of laborers for the mines, ranchs and railroads. From almost the very beginning, blacks have practiced forms of resistance, sometimes together with indigenous or other ethnic groups.

There is not a strong presence of traditional African religion in Ecuador. Most blacks are Catholic. 8 or 9 % (one million) of the national population is black, but only 1-2% of Ecuadorian blacks attend university. As a result, the black community suffers from the disadvantages of lower education."

More video titles can be found on their website video section and you can write to purchase copies. They are all in Spanish and made with and by community building processes. Really great. Don't expect the slick industrial look of the USA nor of the PBS documentaries, but rather a genuine, inviting home grown look and info about important Afro-American issues.

Ecuador: Audiovisuales Don Bosco

today I'm spending all my time preparing for an 11-day shoot in Latin America. The crew that will shoot is from Quito, Ecuador, under the management of a talented, very bright layman, Marcelo Mej�a..

Marcelo directs the production and training center, Audiovisuales Don Bosco and produces forward-looking documentaries about the Catholic church and indigenous peoples. Like good documentarians, his crew goes into a community and spends time w/them, shoots some, then comes back later. The rough cut is shown to the community before it goes into final editing in order to get their input and nod. If you'd like a list of their Spanish-language productions that cover topics of inculturation and the environment, contact him at the e-mail above.

Johnnie Walker "Keep Walking?"

A colleague from Montevideo, Uruguay, Alberto Pigola sent me this link and says that in Montevideo the Scotch company is running ads about these ordinary people doing wonderful things. I looked at the website of this "Keep Walking" campaign and it looks very interesting and positive in that it presents models for solutions. It does not delve into deep war-peace-justice structural issues -- at least the quick look I gave it. But I think it's wonderful. Hmmm corporate public relations in Uruguay?

Take a look.

Wayne Dunkley

Mary Hess'weblog reminded me of Wayne Dunkley, an artist who is great to follow. He is Canadian. Go to his long-running interactive site: sharemyworld.

Mary makes a link to another of his works that I thought was enjoyable, a collection of poems, with a visual design that I think is playful, peaceful, joyful. --to coin a phrase, very nice. Go to Horizon Zero. The title of his piece is 07: Feel.


At Notre Dame I spoke with two other panelists whom I was very glad to meet. They were David Hayes-Bautistas, director of the Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture and J. Gerardo Lopez, Executive Editor of La Opini�n, the largest and longest-running Spanish-language newspaper in the US.

The participants of this conference, "Raices y Alas" were leaders in Catholic pastoral ministry from all over th US and Latin America. The panel title was "The Media." In Spanish the title was "Comunicaciones (TV, Radio, Prensa, etc.). David Hayes-Bautista made a provocative analysis that credited Latino culture with the good health that we enjoy amidst difficult access to health services, and Gerardo Lopez made a heartening recounting of the struggles and commitment of La Opini�n. I spoke about media as culture and the implications for ministry.

Imagine my great surprise and delight when the participants embraced the notion of media as context and culture and that pastoral ministry had to open itself to dealing with all of the daily media experiences of those whom they serve. I've made this case to communications and media professionals with little and tepid response.

Particularly heartwarming was the postiive response to re-looking at religious education curriculum for young persons and emphasizing student participation in the content. By this I mean that instead of teachers looking for "appropriate" media and showing institutionally-produced videos about religious subjects, teachers could instead ask students to bring into the classroom (and to prayer settings) those CD's, videos and games that touch them deeply. The attendees thought this was a very practical and effective thing to do.

I used one example of current latino pop/rock that could be used. It is a video/song by "El Gran Silencio" from Monterrey. The title is "D�jenme Si Estoy Llorando" It's great.
I also showed a segment from last week's Wednesday episode of the telenovela on Univisi�n, "Entre El Amor Y El Odio."

I am happy that the younger ministry leaders are very eager to move ahead with embracing contemporary popular culture for its richness in rhythm, imagination and symbolism. But hold on....I am are also very passionate about criticizing virorously the Euro-centrism and ultra-consumeristic road being taken , naturally, by Univisi�n and other Latino media conglomerates.

Chicano digital art

Am in Notre Dame where tomorrow I'll be speaking on media and religion in the Latino community. The conference, " Raices y Alas," is hosted by the National Catholic Council for Hispanic Ministry,
Being here is fun, a combination of serious thought and fiesta. Reminds me of the need to poke fun and take time to laugh .....when trying to work for justice.

Here's some interesting Chicano work by a collective of digital artists, "Smokin Mirrors."

And makes great fun, sometimes over the edge.

Nice to laugh during times like these.

Peace Work Supports Our Troops

Today I sent a care package to a friend who is serving in the navy, medical division in the desert. He says that he is being pushed to the limits and that many of the memories he will have he wishes he could forget. Sending him candy, chewing gum and eye drops is emotional and is the same type of act as as when I was standing in the Houston traffic, protesting the war. A helpful article about this is in epic site EPIC site, Education For Peace in Iraq. A military website that has good info about how and what to send: But make sure to visit the following site also, to get the view from those marine moms who disagree with the the US-led war: Military Families Speak Out.


What a wonderful video this is, with lots of Coraz�n! "Sweet Ambition" About Chicano teens and the courage and guts it takes to finish high school in west Denver. Latino dropout rate is 70 percent in the US!!!
Video running time is one hour. Last I heard, the production company, Little Voice, is editing a shorter version. See it. Get involved.

I recommend these video resources that were discussed during a seminar April 23, 2003 at the Mexican-American Cultural Center about � Pastoral Ministry and the Impliications of Media Culture.� The resources are:
�Mujer Extraviada� by Lourdes Portillo. Portillo is one of my very favorite Chicana filmmakers whose work I have admired since the 1970�s.

The second is a video I first saw in 1995. It is absolutely wonderful, taking a look at raw satellite footage of what goes on behind news when they don't know we're watching. Spin is by Brian Springer.


Radio Campesina

Radio Campesino is a US network of about 10 Spanish-language radio stations serving the newly arrived immigrants from Latin America and the farmworking communities. They are an exciting media art form and deserve attention and support. They don�t have a website yet, pshaw, but you can contact the President, Paul F. Chavez,
Other info is:
P.O. Box 62
Keene, CA 93531
Tel: (1)(661)823-6201
Fax: (1)(661)823-6175


Public Radio Conference

The public radio conference begins this evening in New Orleans, organized by National Public Radio. I will present a workshop on Saturday, noon, with Luis Tavara Exec. Director of ALER, the Association of Community and Educational Radio Stations in Latin America. The workshop will try to initiate dialog and practical collaboration between US community radio and radio leadership in Latin American countries.

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