Poverty in Motion

Poverty in Motion
By Laura Durham

Is planting a food garden really journalism? The third year class has used journalism to confront local environmental issues that pose threats to the community and consequently addressed the overarching theme of the School, ‘Poverty’, in the process.

The J3 course consists of two parts: Journalism, Democracy and Development (JDD) and Critical Media Production (CMP). After the more theoretical JDD part, students from each specialisation were combined to form multimedia groups and were given a specific environmental concern in Grahamstown with which to work. Some of these issues included prickly pears, food gardens and the Kowie Catchment Campaign (KCC).

This course has been an opportunity to explore the relationship between journalism, democracy and development in a relevant and globally important context. CMP course co-ordinator, Rod Amner comments on the relevance of the choice of theme saying, “Environmentalism is at the centre of a new, progressive global politics that has as its aims a fundamental re-engineering of human politics and society in the service of sustainable development and social justice.”

The students have been given relatively free reign on the media outputs they produce, and some ideas include sound slides, public service announcements (PSAs), photo essays, planting a food garden at a local primary school and even a documentary-showing at Roxbury, complete with champagne.

Students have had to initiate projects that are sustainable and offer a local solution to an environmental problem. Warrick Smith, who is part of the KCC group, said that it has been “really rewarding being able to do something meaningful for the environment.” Doctor Lynette Steenveld, who was in charge of the JDD part of the course, said that while it may be difficult to measure the actual effects of the course, “any little insight, ray of light is potentially useful [because] we don't know how our endeavours will be taken up. Sometimes they get taken up in unexpected ways.”

The JDD/CMP course has enabled the J3 class to use different media to creatively explore environmental concerns in a local context, and in so doing, relate the notion of poverty to journalism in an effective and relevant manner.


About Ukulima Grahamstown

Ukulima means 'to cultivate' in isiXhosa and we felt it was a very appropriate name for our project since we are exploring how food gardens are a local and sustainable solution to the global crisis that is food security.

We are a group of third year journalism students that were given the topic 'food gardens' as part of our Critical Media Production course. We are a multimedia group consisting of writers, designers, TV, radio and photojourn students and have been working together, as well as with various civic organisations and community projects on a number of media outputs.

Even though this project will only last six weeks, we hope to 'cultivate' some change in our community and make our media outputs sustainable in that we wish to leave behind knowledge that will benefit people and hopefully lead them in the right direction in creating a food garden that will make them self-sufficient.

We are creating a DVD of all of our visual outputs, which will come with a 'how to' brochure and packet of seeds. We plan to distribute these to various schools, clinics and community centres in the Grahamstown/iRhini area in the hopes that we can encourage people to build food gardens of their own.

We are exhibiting all of our work at Barratt Lecture Hall, Rhodes University on October 22 2008, and hope that members of the community take a look at our efforts in promoting the idea of food gardens.