Next Step for Participatory Video: Taking the Message to Broader Ranging Exchange Platforms (Indonesia)

By Prof. Sang Putu Kaler Surata and Prof. Kevin Thompson - Speaker

Ten years ago, an American landscape architect entered into a Balinese territory that, for hundreds of years, the locals have believed is sacred. Deep inside the volcano’s crater and high up on the caldera’s rim, ceremonies are held in temples built to the Goddess of Water, Dewi Danu, whom, according to ancient lore, lives deep inside the crater lake.
But something is amiss. The image of this landscape is not what this foreigner has imagined: it is not the edenic landscape of great beauty and of abundant harvest: it is a harsh, industrial landscape ravaged by mining, denuded by illegal timber harvesting and plowed-under to accommodate the steadily-increasing demands of urbanization and modern development.
What human perspectives decide the fate of this sacred landscape and do the locals even remember that their ancestors declared these lands sacred domains? When the landscape architect returns with a video camera and a local biologist, something quite astonishing happens. Set up to begin filming along the side of the road next to rice padis, farmers appear from across the landscape, crowding-around and lining-up to take their turn in front of the camera, waiting patiently to tell their stories, eager to participate in the sharing of knowledge about this place.
This paper discusses the evolution of a participatory video project that began in Bali a decade ago and shares insights gained through ist evolution and adaptations in form from strategies of engagement to the launch of a co-generated, information-exchange platform that may very well represent the future of participatory video today.


Sang Putu Kaler Surata is Professor of Ecology in the departments of Biology Education, Environmental Management and Regional Planning at Mahasaraswati University. His research focuses on social ecology, experiential learning and sustainability. He holds degrees in Natural and Environmental Management and Biology from Mahasaraswati University and the Institute Pertanian Bogor. Mr. Surata has held a long-working research partnership with John Stephen Lansing (University of Arizona, USA) and his students in the area of social-ecology and particularly the Balinese subak system. He has also collaborated with Ian Falk (Charles Darwin University, Australia) in community management of biosecurity and with Kevin Thompson (University of Florida, USA) in community heritage landscape conservation and citizen engagement in community development.

Kevin Thompson is Assistant Professor and Graduate Coordinator for the Department of Landscape Architecture at the University of Florida. His research explores participatory practice and the integration of contemporary media in projects that empower marginalized populations through skills development and the co-production of shared community knowledgebase platforms. Kevin holds degrees in Landscape Architecture from Penn State and has spent more than a decade in international private practice. He is also co-Director of the Center for International Design and Planning and Director of Landscape Field Schools which offers community development-oriented study abroad programs based Indonesia.

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