Therapeutic Tales: Supporting community disaster recovery through multimedia co-production – experiments in stop motion animation and participatory storytelling
The UWI Seismic Research Centre, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago W.I. November 14, 2022- Children living in La Soufrière’s red zone co-produced an imaginative short film produced with the support of the University of Cambridge and The University of the West Indies Seismic Research Centre (UWI-SRC). “Volcano Inna Me Backyard” tells the story of ‘Ananu’ and her friends as they rescue ‘Destiny’, her sister who is trapped by an erupting volcano and the dangerous ‘Lava Fly’. The story unfolds on a remote volcanic island in the throes of an eruption.
In April 2022, students from the Fancy Government Primary School in northern St. Vincent were invited to participate in a community driven interdisciplinary recovery project designed to engage and support children affected by the eruption of La Soufrière Volcano in 2021. The workshop was designed, planned and executed in collaboration with two teachers at the Fancy Government School, a poet and resident of the Fancy Village and two members of the Changing Landscapes SVG Recovery Project. A Vincentian Filmmaking team provided audio visual support and art direction for the workshop. During the workshop children were guided through the different components and ways of telling a story and encouraged to develop their own characters, setting and problem. The children were provided with materials and tools to create all the elements of their story using visual art media and recorded their story together using stop motion animation.
The co-production process highlights the value of direct life experience (rather than only professional expertise) in creating, designing and executing community engagement projects. Through this process the children actively participated with support from their community, utilising their own perspective, knowledge and skills to develop their collective narrative of a volcanic eruption. Through these co-produced workshops with local champions, utilising visual arts and media, youth and children in at-risk communities can access and develop communication skills through the power of play and their own creativity. UWI-SRC Geologist Monique Johnson hopes that this would be the first of many risk-reduction interventions focused on creating a space for children to explore their experience with disaster from a different perspective. Noting that children are one of the most vulnerable groups during disaster situations, she says that this project “is another example of the UWI-SRC’s commitment to engaging with all levels of society, in a way that genuinely fosters trust and cultural values towards building risk resilient communities.”
Volcano Inna Me Backyard can now be viewed on the UWI-SRC’s YouTube page.