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Central Brooklyn Organizers Mine Citizen Journalism for Photo A Day Project

By Sonja Sharp | July 17, 2012 12:51pm
"You call them stoops, we call them thrones" tweeted resident @shannboogie, aka Shannon Washington, under an Instagram picture of brick-lane steps in Bed-Stuy.
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Brooklyn Movement Center

BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — In the kingdom of Bedford Stuyvesant, the stoop is a throne — at least, that's what the locals say.

"You call them stoops, we call them thrones," tweeted resident @shannboogie, aka Shannon Washington, under an Instagram picture of brick-lane steps in Bed-Stuy.

Her neighborhood shoutout and dozens like it were inspired by the brand new Brooklyn Movement Center, Bed-Stuy based community organizing group, which recently challenged residents of Central Brooklyn to document their rapidly changing neighborhoods, one picture at a time.

"The photo a day project was to change the perception of what it means to report on something," Mary Pierre-Louis, the center's communications organizer, said of the project. "Taking a picture of something from your perspective (as a resident), that's just as valid as a trained reporter or journalist coming into a community and doing a report on it."

Inspired by the popular photo-sharing app Instagram, the challenge prompts visitors with a daily theme like "gentrification" or "kings and queens", aggregating the results through Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.  

"We're living in the digital age where people are hyper-sharing, everyone is taking photos, everyone has smartphones," Pierre-Louis said. "We weave communications, social media and technology into everything we do." 

Beginning in Bed-Stuy in June and expanding to Crown Heights in July, the photo a day project is part of a larger tech-driven organizing push that meshes traditional community organizing tools with the apps in an iPhone. Volunteers have already spent the summer fanning out across Central Brooklyn block parties, conducting video-surveys with local residents.

"We're doing issue identification through video surveys," Pierre-Louis said. "Using video is more interesting. I think people are more interested in stopping and talking on camera."