From 2011-2014, the Mobile Media Lab-Montreal (ACM) collaborated with RECAA (Respecting Elders: Communities Against elder Abuse) on a variety of digital media projects. In April 2014, RECAA became a key community partner of ACT. RECAA and ACT are now sharing office space in the ACT headquarters in downtown Montreal.
RECAA came together ten years ago to raise awareness of elder abuse within ethno-cultural communities and to foster a “culture of respect” towards the elderly. Members of RECAA practice Forum Theatre as an alternative model for discussing sensitive issues within the context of ethnocultural difference in Québec. Founded by Brazilian dramaturge Augusto Boal in the 1970’s, Forum Theatre presents short scenes that are non-verbal. A dialogue then takes place with the audience. Audience members are thought of as “spect-actors” and they work with the actors in RECAA to find solutions to the complex dilemmas presented.
RECAA plays a vital role within the ACT network. ACT’s long-term collaboration with RECAA is called “Activist Ageing and Digital Media.” The goal of this suite of projects, developed together with RECAA, is to translate RECAA’s methods for face-to-face communication into appropriate digital media forms and formats.
Our collaboration has gone through several phases (see below).
Phase 1. October 2011- June 2012
In this first phase the Mobile Media Lab (MML) and the Atwater Library and Computer Centre (ALCC) worked with RECAA on the basics of digital filming and editing. In exchange, the ACM/MML learned about elder abuse and became aware of the strong connection between the ACM/MML’s commitment to participatory media practice and Forum Theatre methods.
1. RECAA’s first video. A five minute film “Respecting Our Elders” filmed by members of RECAA, with editing guidance from Sophie Guérin.
2. A slide show showing images of the history of RECAA was presented on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.
3. Event. A collaboration on the production of World Elder Abuse Awareness day that involved multiple “acts,” great food, and a spectacular series of portraits of participating elders. This RECAA event was produced in collaboration with COPSI, the ALCC and the MML. It was attended by over one hundred people and provided a wonderful way to showcase seniors’ energy and commitment to social change.
Phase 2. September, 2012 - present.
This past year RECAA received a New Horizons grant on ageism and inter-generationality called “The Golden Feedback Loop.” As well as continuing their training in filming and editing with the MML, the grant enabled RECAA to develop new Forum with students from James Lyng High School and new workshops with artist-in-residence Lib Spry. Kim and Sophie were elected to the Board of RECAA at RECAA’s Annual General Meeting in October, 2012.
1. Videos. Several new video productions are in process and will be presented at World Elder Abuse Awareness Day in June.
2. RECAA on Youtube. RECAA published their first Youtube video, a moving analysis by Susie Raphals (who moved to Montreal from the US ten years ago) on guns and the misinterpretation of the American Constitution’s Second Amendment by associations such as the National Rifle Association (NRA). Filmed on an iPhone by Susie’s friend and RECAA coordinator Anne Caines, Susie powerfully addresses the United States Congress with her point of view and arguments. Susie died four days after the video was shot and these are her parting words to President Obama. http://youtu.be/YT4xOb_0lzE
3. RECAA On-Line. The RECAA website, Facebook page, and domain name are under construction and being populated with digital content created by RECAA. recaa.ca.
4. A paper. Tactical Mediatization, forthcoming in the Dutch Journal, MediaCulture. The abstract is here:
5. Events. World Elder Abuse Awareness Day: June 13, 2013 at Salle communautaire Galeries du Parc.
Phase 3. June 2013- June 2014. Further Community Collaborations
The MML/ACM will collaborate with RECAA on a New Horizons project this coming Fall. Inspired by Anne and Susie’s YouTube video, the focus of the grant will be on the use of social networking and mobile media by RECAA elders. RECAA will use everyday mobile devices to document the history of ageing and activism in Montreal through the stories of elder-activists who have played foundational roles in initiating and maintaining a vibrant network of community-based organizations for seniors whose contributions to the life of the city have gone undocumented and are often overlooked.
With the MML’s commitment to teaching digital literacy in a creative and participatory manner, our collaboration with RECAA underscores the intersection between participatory theatre as method.
Our work with RECAA offers theoretical insight on the use of digital technologies by an activist organization of elders and the willingness and capacity of elders to learn new skills. It also provides us with a deeper understanding of the question and existence of elder abuse in our society.