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Enhance Understanding

Making that happen through advocacy, podcasting, research and publications.

Now Is the Time to Spread Hope

It has been difficult to find bright spots in recent news coming out of Iraq.  For an organization like EPIC the most current news on Iraq is key, and the last month has been particularly bleak.  July saw reports of 436 civilian casualties, violence which has continued into August.[1] It is clear that conflict in Iraq is far from over.  The road to democracy and peace was never going to be easy, but recent stumbling blocks have challenged even the strongest of convictions.  It can be easy to lose hope. But as Iraq seems to falter, we must remember that

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Back to the Beginning

Exploring the Origins of Photovoice Imagine you’re an academic in South America, around the 1950’s or 60’s.  It’s a pretty exciting time to be an academic.  With the Cold War in full swing the world has become a battleground of ideas, and you are on the front lines. You’ve just come out of university in the capital, but now eagerly leave the city and head out into the rural villages.  You’re excited to spread these new ideas- workers rights, community organizing, the history of colonialism, the latest economic practices, new agricultural techniques- but when you finally reach the village, you

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PHOTOVOICE IRAQ: Picturing Change Press Release

Kids with Cameras: The Key to Peace in Iraq? EPIC (The Education for Peace in Iraq Center) has launched fundraising efforts for its most recent field project, PHOTOVOICE IRAQ: Picturing Change. The project, using the proven technique of photovoice will give twenty Iraqi youth the opportunity to document the changes they see in their communities through photos. By accompanying these photos with short narratives, Picturing Change has the potential to inspire its participants to be a force of positive change in Iraq. Having started off as a community-needs assessment tool, photovoice has become a means of empowerment. Seeing success in

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A Face in the Crowd(funding)

Shakespeare wrote for money.  Othello, Hamlet, and Macbeth would never have sprung off the page if not for royal funding.  To paint his masterpiece The Last Judgement in the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo was commissioned by the Vatican.  Having great ideas was a good start, but without the money to back them, some of history’s finest works would never have been made. Modern venture capitalists work in a similar way.  No longer a community only of Popes and Kings, they find ideas they think will be successful and fund them.  The rise of Facebook, made famous by Hollywood, is a classic example of

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Iraq’s Citizen Journalists

“Under Saddam Hussein’s Baathist regime, the media were nothing more than a government mouthpiece. But after the war, it was different. I saw the need to tell the world what was happening in my country.” – Bassam Sebti, former journalist for the Washington Post in Iraq The story of Iraq’s journalists is something near to my heart. During my first couple of weeks at EPIC, I wrote a blog post about a popular journalist who had been killed, simply for doing his job. The whole time I was thinking of one of my closest friends, Justin, who’s dream is to

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An EPIC Night Out

The past six weeks have been pretty intense here at EPIC, and this blog post is long overdue (sorry Jamie!).  I don’t want to bore you with the details of how I’ve been spending every minute of every day, but there have been a few developments that are as exciting as they are pivotal for EPIC. There’s this thing called photovoice-   Thomas wrote a blog post about it a while back.  Photovoice is 50% photo-essay and 50% sociology project, and I’m 100% obsessed with it.  It started like this: the EPIC team was having coffee with Nate Rosenblat (one of our awesome advisors)

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When youth build nations

Youth are well known for breaking new ground, dreaming big, and rewriting the rules. They fight in wars, push for revolutions, and are often the first to call for reforms and change to a system of governance. Their energy and enthusiasm is often described as a source to be tapped into. And it pretty much goes without saying that a nation’s wealth is measured in part by the promise of a nation’s youth. Unfortunately, contrary to these well documented tendencies, they are not always well represented in the policies and actions of a country – and are sometimes even systematically excluded. When

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Eden Returning

In a blast from the recent past, I just watched a brilliant PBS “Nature” on the Mesopotamian Marshes from 2010.  You can find the whole episode, titled “Braving Iraq” here. It is absolutely worth watching, especially if you have any interest in either Iraq or wildlife.  David Johnson and Stephen Foote, the filmmakers behind “Nature,” discuss how they tried to show a side of Iraq that gets overlooked: “it’s not about the bang bang, it’s about the tweet tweet.” The wildlife they showcase is spectacular.  Huge flocks of flamingos and pelicans flying overhead, tufted herons and mottled kingfishers, huge toads

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Photovoice: An Exciting Tool for EPIC

Here at EPIC, we have been exploring tools and techniques for forwarding our mission in Iraq.  We are particularly excited about a technique called photovoice because of its power, simplicity, and participatory nature.  We thought we’d share some of our excitement with you, to keep you updated on what we’re working on. Drawing inspiration from participatory education, critical theories, and their own field experience, social scientists Caroline Wang and Mary Ann Burris developed a technique for understanding community needs through photography.  This method, called photovoice, addressed a major complaint in the social sciences: what researchers THINK people need isn’t always

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TEDx: From Ideas to Action

Iraq is in a state of transition from war to peace, from occupation to independence, from an old to a new identity. As Iraqis face this transitional stage in their history, they have an opportunity to reflect on both the past and the future. TEDx Baghdad, an event initiated by Yahay AlAbdeli, acts as a mirror for the Iraqi people, where Iraqi viewers witness their peers discussing relevant topics on Iraq and see a reflection of themselves and where the country is going. TEDx acts as an intermediary between rhetoric and action. The structure of the talks—often beginning with an idea and

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Iraqi Kurdistan in a League of Their Own

As the Euro Cup draws attention from the soccer-loving world (read: everyone but the US), another lesser-known competition has just ended. Iraqi Kurdistan beat out Northern Cyprus in the VIVA World Cup. What’s that? You didn’t catch the game? I’ll be honest, I didn’t either. The games were held in Erbil, and though it was the largest contest in VIVA’s six year history, it only featured nine teams. What brought these teams together? Only sub-state nations unrecognized by FIFA are invited to join VIVA (which is always capitalized, though unlike FIFA it is not an acronym). VIVA raises interesting questions

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