Saturday, August 18, 2012

Team 1 heads to Nelsonville!

"Rocking" the research process at Paper Circle in Nelsonville, Ohio. In Nelsonville we learned about  Paper Circle's summer activity, "Circle Round the Square," which "helps children develop creative skills, improve their self-esteem, and foster friendships and group interaction through the creative process of making art." (quote from website).

Team 1 got a close look at some of the art produced by children in the "Circle Round the Square" - Here, team members Caroline and Ndiaga show their admiration of the "Cigar-box Guitars" produced this summer.


The second 2012 cohort of participants in the two-week "Communication for Development" workshop have begun their afternoon work with local partner organizations. Groups will move from formative research, to strategy draft, to presentation with partners, to strategy finalization.  Cynthia Hannah, workshop staff member and talented graphic designer has helped us depict one perspective of the two-week process, as an info-graph...

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Welcome Cohort 2!

The third edition of the UNICEF/Ohio University Communication for Development (C4D) workshop officially began on August 12th - we are happy to welcome a new group of UNICEF folks to Athens and Ohio University.

Our talented videographer/photographer Camilo Perez has been taking many wonderful photos (like this one of our dedicated and tireless staff!) - and we are looking forward to sharing these photos here. For example, I am hoping that  Sara, C4D officer from Colombia, will say it's okay to post a photo from our impromptu Salsa-dancing lesson yesterday... Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Participants at a Glance

Press Release


Ohio University Partners with UNICEF on Communication for Development Workshop

Athens, Ohio
      For the second year in a row, Ohio University has partnered with UNICEF for a two week training workshop on campus, bringing bright minds from all over the world to Athens as part of a nine month blended learning course on communication-based improvement projects. The Communication for Development (C4D) Workshop brings UNICEF staff members from 37 different countries to Ohio University learn about utilization of communication to promote general well-being in communities around the world, and applying what they learn to help causes in and around Athens County. 
      UNICEF was created in 1946 by the United Nations to provide food, clothing, and health care for children facing famine and disease after World War II. Today, UNICEF continues working for children in 191 countries through country programs and National Committees to help meet basic needs and expand opportunities. UNICEF’s key focus areas include basic education, gender equality, nutrition, water and sanitation, child protection, health (including HIV/AIDS and children), and early child/adolescent development around the world. 
      UNICEF staff members, having already completed an extensive online learning course that began in early March, arrived in Athens last week to start their two week in-person training course on Communication for Development. Their mission is to use communication (such as dialogue, community activities, mass media campaigns, advocacy, etc.) to promote health, peace, and general well-being across the world. While in Athens they are specifically focusing on local organizations in Southeast Ohio. Participants are working with Live Healthy Appalachia, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Athens County, Kids on Campus, My Sister’s Place, Hocking-Athens-Perry Community Action Partnership, and Rural Action. The participants working with Rural Action are also helping to produce a documentary about the C4D Workshop and the process of working with Rural Action in an effort to promote the Chesterhill Produce Auctions. 
      Rural Action’s mission is to foster social, economic, and environmental justice in Appalachian Ohio. In their partnership with UNICEF they are focusing on producing a strategy concerning the Chesterhill Produce Auction, and promoting a plan for sustainability. The Chesterhill Produce Auction was started independently in 2004, and Rural Action took over operations in 2009 then purchased it in 2010 with unanimous support of the stakeholders and the community. The auction promotes Rural Action’s focus on the value of local assets by supporting local food producers, and encouraging consumers to choose locally produced products. Rural Action and the C4D participants are working on a strategy to build stronger connections with the Chesterhill community, with an eventual goal of sustainability, so that Rural Action may turn over control of the operation to the community itself. 
      Over the past week UNICEF staff has met with Rural Action employees and Chesterhill residents to learn more about the auction and the community itself, as well as participating in workshops and information sessions at OU’s Walter Hall in the mornings. They have participated in focus groups and attended an auction to learn more about its place in the community in order to produce a successful communication strategy. Now in their second week in Athens, they are working on a plan to use communication to change the perception of the auction within the community, and work towards inviting the residents of Chesterhill to take advantage of this asset. 

For more information:

C4D participants show off the produce they bought at the Chesterhill Produce Auction

 Blackberries at the Chesterhill Produce Auction

 Every morning the UNICEF staff participates in workshops about communication strategies and theories, which they can then apply to their project within Athens.

C4D Participants met with Rural Action employees and volunteers in Trimble to learn more about Appalachia, Ohio, and the goal of their forthcoming communication strategy. 


Local Partner Organizations

More information on the local groups UNICEF staff are partnering with for the C4D Workshops.

Rural Action

The mission of Rural Action is to foster social, economic, and environmental justice in Appalachian Ohio.

Participants working with Rural Action will focus on the Chesterhill Produce Auction and the ways in which community connections can be strengthened.

Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Athens County

The mission of BBBS is to make a positive difference in the lives of area youth through professionally supported relationships with mentors and volunteers.

Participants working with BBBS will focus on youth mentoring and the ways in which service programs can be expanded to Washington County; the goal is to build a new network in the county with "bigs", "littles", and community members. 

Live Healthy Appalachia

The mission of Live Healthy Appalachia is to improve health in the Appalachian region through education, outreach, and advocacy for nutrition and healthy.

Participants working with Live Healthy Appalachia will focus on healthy lifestyles and nutrition programs, especially in schools, and will work to assist the organization t develop and identity and presence in the region.

Kids on Campus

The mission of Kids on Campus is to serve and empower underserved, at-risk children and their families through education, nutrition, and recreation.

Participants working with Kids on Campus will focus on academic enrichment and recreation programs; the communication focus will be parental communication.

Hocking - Athens - Perry Community Action Partnership

The mission of HAPCAP is to mobilize resources to empower individuals and communities by providing quality services that promote self-sufficiency and enhance quality of life.

Participants working with HAPCAP will focus early education, employment and training, safe and affordable housing, food and nutrition, community development, coordination of services, and advocacy for the poor. The communication focus of this group will be political advocacy and communication.

My Sister's Place

The mission of My Sister's Place is to provide a respite for battered women and children and ensure their self-determination.

My Sister's Place serves victims of family violence in Athens, Hocking, and Vinton counties. Participants working with this organization will focus on raising awareness of community counseling.

Monday, July 30, 2012

In search of yellow watermelon...Chesterhill Produce Auction, here we come!

Team 1 of the UNICEF/Ohio University Communication for Development (C4D) workshop is collaborating with the community-based organization Rural Action to develop a communication strategy to promote the Chesterhill Produce Auction. As part of the workshop, we spent the week of July 23-27) conducting "formative research" to learn all we could about the area and about the auction. On Monday we had a GREAT session at Ohio University led by the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, which covered the historical, political and cultural context in Appalachia and south-east Ohio. On Tuesday, our international group of UNICEF professionals from 8 different countries (Swaziland, Ghana, China, France, Azerbaijan, Guatemala, Moldova, and Bangladesh) traveled to the office of Rural Action in Trimble. There we listened and learned about the importance of local food systems and efforts to promote income generation, access to nutritious food, and local self-sufficiency. Rural Action is dedicated to fostering "social, economic, and environmental justice in Appalachian Ohio,"  and the Chesterhill Produce Auction is one activity (among many) that supports that mission.

On Tuesday, we went to the site of the auction and held a focus group discussion with farmers and community members. One thing we learned during the focus group is that people have a variety of reasons - beyond produce - to attend the auction. As one person stated,  "There is a family environment - it's not just an auction... it's also a chance to socialize."

Interested in socializing ourselves, we visited the auction this past Thursday (July 26). Some headed straight for the small fixed-price store within the auction to buy Rhubarb pies and handmade soaps. Those of us who said we might not bid on produce (because we weren't sure how to do it), soon found ourselves in heated "bidding wars" over berries and melons (Victorious!).

In the end, we were SO successful with our auction purchases that we organized a group dinner to cook up our hard-earned produce. During dinner we experienced the joys of fresh, locally-produced vegetables.

What was our overall experience at the auction? Exciting, educational, nutritious AND delicious!

What if we looked at the ASSETS in a community.... (instead of focusing on deficits?)  This would be a "Positive Deviance" approach to social change!

What is Positive Deviance?

Here is the definition provided on the website of the Positive Deviance Initiative  (at Tufts University):

"Positive Deviance is based on the observation that in every community there are certain individuals or groups whose uncommon behaviors and strategies enable them to find better solutions to problems than their peers, while having access to the same resources and facing similar or worse challenges. The Positive Deviance (PD) approach is an asset-based, problem-solving, and community-driven approach that enables the community to discover these successful behaviors and strategies and develop a plan of action to promote their adoption by all concerned."

For those of you in the UNICEF/Ohio University "Communication for Development" course who are interested in learning more about PD, the link to the Positive Deviance Initiative website can be found above.

Linking here to a story by PD pioneer Jerry Sternin, and another short write up by Dr. Arvind Singhal, who was speaking on PD during the course this week. (Yolanda, as I add these links I am thinking of you!!) :)

Oh, and there is also a book!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

I received an email from Arvind Singhal this afternoon in which he requested that I pass along the following:

"Dear UNICEF Colleagues:

I eagerly look forward to meeting each one of you during our Thursday session on Entertainment-Education (11 to 1 p.m.) and Friday session on the Positive Deviance approach (8:30 to 10:30).

I enclose two breezy readings (one for each session) which you may peruse in a breezy manner before we meet, reading between the lines for the “big ideas”….

Also, I will be in the breakfast area of the OU Inn from 7:30 a.m. onwards on Thursday and so if you are in the area, feel free to drop by and say hello!   I am the ‘onion’ with two roses in this picture below!


You can find the readings Dr. Singhal is referring to on the course materials site under the readings for the workshops. You can also link to them here (E-E) and here (P-D). You'll have to enter your username and password to download these readings from these links.

Enjoy the rest of the day!

- Andrew

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The "new" role of C4D strategies and theory

During the course of our work today, I heard from a participant (several, actually) about some of the ways in which working for UNICEF is no longer related to "grassroots" organizations, but now tends to involve policymakers and government stakeholders. Given this situation, the question for us as C4D practitioners is "what is the role of C4D in this type of organization and how does C4D practice relate to these new priorities"?

Of course I'd welcome your comments on this, but I have a couple of ideas of my own that I'll share.

First, here is the definition of C4D in the UNICEF context. Note that it is not limited to behavior change but includes things like policy advocacy and humanitarian work more generally. With this in mind, the answer to the question above may shift - if a C4D specialist is not working with a grassroots organization, perhaps they are working on creating communication to influence policy change or to influence government entities to adopt policies that protect and promote the human rights of citizens.

Second, many of the participants in the workshop work directly with local organizations which ARE working at the grassroots level. Have a look at this page to see some ways in which UNICEF partners with civil society organizations. Clearly, being able to share experiences and knowledge related to human rights, values, principles, as well as the technical knowledge of theory and how to conduct research will be of value for the partner organization and its clients.

Finally, a word about theory. The application of communication theories in the context of development and C4D has not always been as systematic as it is today (remember Silvio's Family Tree of Theories). Theory provides us with an evidence based framework for choosing a useful approach to creating communication materials. While some of the theories we draw upon in communication are many decades old (diffusion of innovations, health belief model) they are field tested and can provide us with helpful guideposts in the C4D process. What's new (or newer) is the systematic application of communication theory in C4D in conjunction with a dialogic process between the development organization and community.

I hope some of you might add your "two cents" to this post and my thoughts about the role of C4D in your contexts.
Welcome everyone to the blog for the UNICEF/Ohio University Face to Face workshop on C4D, taking place in Athens, Ohio, from July 22nd - August 4th and again from August 13th - August 23rd.

We created this blog for workshop participants and facilitators to contribute their thoughts on issues related to workshop content, things happening in Athens and southeastern Ohio, and the field of C4D in general.

Please feel free to add your own post and comment on the posts of others!