Once, the remote canyons of Aparados da Serra were a perfect place for black men and women in the south of Brazil to escape from slavery. Now their very inaccessibility threatens to cut these quilombos communities off from the 21st century. Long term educational projects have ensured that members of the quilombo now have good skills at reading texts and at understanding the way that Brazilian law can benefit or injure them. However, producing materials, especially in the new media important for communicating with the world, still challenges the community.
The £500 donation from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Foundation is contributing to Shine a Light’s Writing the Canyons project with the aim of helping the people of the quilombo not just to understand a world from which they have long been excluded, but also to create texts and art so that others can learn from them.
Shine a Light began as a network of more than 300 grass-roots organizations serving marginalized children in Latin America, working to publicize and promote the best practices of these NGOs. Having discovered that film was one of the most effective and cost-effective ways to democratize intellectual capital, Shine a Light has produced more than 20 Digital Workshops, DVD-based courses teaching innovative methods with video, interviews, and lessons. More than thirty organizations, half a dozen cities and two countries now use Shine a Light’s models as the basis for their services to marginalized children.
In the Writing the Canyons project, children of the quilombo will use interviews, archival research, and careful oral history to turn the history of their community into film a documentary film telling the history of the quilombo, a graphic novel or comic book representing this story in a compelling way for children and teenagers and a fictional movie, in which the children of the community play the roles of their ancestors as they founded the quilombo. In addition, the project will teach literacy and communication skills in new media so that young people from the quilombo can continue to teach and learn through film, books, and the internet.
Recommended by Bill Bachle, founding trustee for the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Foundation.