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Cultivating Civic Ecology

A Photovoice Study with Urban Gardeners in Lisbon, Portugal

Krista Harper and Ana Isabel Afonso

Urban gardens are a form of self-provisioning, leisure and activist practice that is cropping up in cities around the world (Mougeot 2010). We present the history and contemporary terrain of Lisbon’s urban gardens and discuss the cultural values that gardeners attach to the practice of growing food in interstitial urban spaces. We present initial findings from our research with an urban gardeners’ association as it attempts to transform informal or clandestine garden spaces into an ‘urban agricultural park’. This coalition of gardeners from diverse socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds is reclaiming land and using a participatory design process to create a shared space. They hope to grow vegetables and to re-grow ‘community’ by forging shared experiences in the neighbourhood. We describe how we used Photovoice as a process for exploring residents’ motivations in planting informal and community gardens on public land. What visions of sustainability and the contemporary city emerge from the practice of urban gardening? What kinds of urban gardening practices produce ‘communities of practice’ that cross ethnic, socioeconomic, and generational lines? The Photovoice approach allowed us to examine how gardeners conceptualise their use of urban space as they build new civic identities around gardening and make political claims to gain access and control over vacant land.

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Through Our Eyes

Using Photovoice to Address Stigma in the Age of AIDS

Learning Together Project

Learning Together Project

Th e photographs in this essay were taken by grade eight and nine girls in one rural school in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa in response to the question: What is the face of stigma in our community in the context of HIV and Aids? Th e girls used inexpensive point-and-shoot cameras to document the issues on location at their school, staging scenes that tell critical stories of the impact of stigma on the community. Once they had taken the photographs they developed captions which speak to the issues that they were working to represent. Some wrote in isiZulu while others chose to write in English. Th e isiZulu captions were translated into English. The images in this photovoice project help to identify, understand and interpret incidents related to stigma and discrimination against people living with, and aff ected by, HIV and AIDS.

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Brigette Krieg

Statistical representation of young Indigenous women in Canada presents an alarming picture of adversity characterized by addiction, pregnancy, and academic underachievement. Using Photovoice as a vehicle for community dialogue and education, the goal of this project was not to further the literature that examines the limitations of young Indigenous women, but to examine their strengths and their resilience. The project intended to document the lived experiences of young Indigenous women and comment on youth-identified issues and responses to the challenges experienced by Indigenous girls residing in urban centres. The level of insight and maturity demonstrated by the photographers was astounding; these young girls were able to consider their own circumstances within the broader context of family and community. Further, they examined their circumstances critically in relation to the historical consequences of past generations. In doing this, the photographers, rather than getting trapped in a cycle of negativity reminiscing about past wrongs, created opportunity for positive change and raised hope for this generation.

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HearSay, HereSay, HerSay

A Photo-essay

Cora-Lee Conway and Simone Viger

On 11 October 2012, the Institute of Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies (IGSFS) of McGill University, Montreal, hosted an international research symposium to coincide with the first International Day of the Girl Child. The symposium, Girlhood Studies and the Politics of Place: New Paradigms of Research, exhibited HearSay, HereSay, HerSay, a photovoice project from the Girls’ Multimedia Club afterschool program for girls. Delivered by the Girls Action Foundation, this program, now in its third year, offers multimedia skill-building for girls as a tool for personal growth and social change. The fifth and sixth grade girls (aged between 10 and 13 years) in the HearSay, HereSay, HerSay project explored the theme of safety, doing so through their photos of the places and spaces they navigate every day around their school. Their photos and corresponding captions tell stories about friendship, loss, and aspiration that shed light on their day-to-day realities and experiences. The combination of image and text presented in this photo-essay chronicles the process involved in creating a space where this kind of media-enabled exploration for girls is possible.

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Katie Macentee

In the call for articles for this special issue on girls’ health, we highlighted that “[g]irls’ health is an ongoing and evolving issue with ties that go beyond medical analyses to include a wide array of social, educational, political, and environmental discourses (among others!).” Th at a number of different perspectives might contribute to or strengthen the interdisciplinary focus of an issue as crucial as girls’ health was important to me as guest editor. Th is issue demonstrates that the relationship of girlhood to health—sexual health, in particular—is of critical concern to us all. It is an area full of challenges and barriers, most of them, as is evident in this issue, understood and often expressed by girls themselves. The articles presented here point to the many perspectives from which to approach this topic. Girls’ sexual health is linked to an array of intersecting issues including the pedagogical influences of popular romance literature; the ways in which girls use blogs to construct counter narratives about their sexual identity; how girls’ increased inclusion in citizenship discourses can increase their capacity to address sexual objectification; what girls do to negotiate power within their heterosexual relationships; how barriers to water access in Africa can lead to the awareness of the risks—which range from being perceived to be promiscuous to being raped—that young women face; as well as how the (mis)management of menstruation can affect girls’ education. This issue points to the global and local specifics of sexual health, and to health more generally. Th e concerns discussed here are geographically wide-ranging: Cameroon, Lesotho, Australia, the United States, and Canada provide the settings—some urban and others rural. Th e authors present a wide range of methodologies from which they explore girls’ health: literary analysis; autoethnography; and participatory methods such as digital storytelling, mediamaking, listening to what young people have to say in various research paradigms, blogging, and photovoice.