Orestis Tringides is a Community Media researcher based in Cyprus and one of the initiators of Old Nicosia Revealed: a community around photography aiming to express their views about the old town of Nicosia via the lens and related activities. He is also one of the editors of Join2Media.
In September, along with the team Old Nicosia Revealed we organized a visit to the closed Nicosia Airport. The process was a bit long and strict and we could have done better, but nevertheless we managed to assemble a team of 30 people, comprised of journalists, photographers, architects and sociologists, but at the same time students, older people who used to work at the airport, migrants and members of the community from both sides of the dividing line.
Our aim wasn’t much: we just wanted to offer the opportunity to some people, to see, experience and learn something that it is closed to many. Not many people can… enjoy the privilege to experience the derelicted old aiport, to see first hand the holes left from the conflict and the huge waste that lies in the UN-controlled zone, just next to a busy university, roads and residential areas.
One of our members who visited the airport with us, was Panayiotis Hadjimichael, a photographer specializing in creating 360° virtual tours, where it lets you “move” into the space within your computer’s browser or mobile phone; zoom in and zoom out into details in any direction from a stationary vantage point. His work on the old airport can be viewed here.
Sharing is caring. We wanted people who joined, most of them equipped with photo and video cameras, but also smartphones, to share what they saw, what footage they took and encourage others to do the same. We encouraged people to (yes) speak to one another, look into each other’s business and ideas, form groups, make projects. Start sharing, take initiatives. You see, Old Nicosia Revealed is built on that “hippy” spirit: Let’s get together, take photos, do stuff together, change perspectives and people; if you have an idea, share it, talk to people and let us know what support you need from us. No money is needed.
Panayiotis shared his work with us. Friend of a friend saw the public post, one let know of the other and somewhere in between the even fewer degrees of separation, the story was picked up by a friend (of a friend, of a friend…) working at the Daily Mail. From a single photoshoot among friends in Cyprus in an unremarkable corner of the world (considering around us people are slaughtering each other), we got out the message of the waste and absurdity of an injustice going about for four decades.
What’s the message here? Image is power. We have heard the cliche “a picture is worth of a thousand words”, but in our today’s era of an overcrowded internet, this is not enough. At the end of the day you need a plan, a vision, a modus operandi on how you work with people, how you share, how you allow them to create their own Community Media and how can they empower themselves with, or without you. At the end of the day, nothing can replace real human interaction, trust, a handshake, team spirit, the actual human touch. Seeing each other in the eye and saying “we can do it together”.
And what we are doing with Old Nicosia Revealed is what we are doing with Join2Media: Come together, you have a perspective, some people have other perspectives. Let’s put things together and see what comes out of it. You have a message to give, a story to tell, things you want to do. Why don’t we build a community to get these messages out? Communities are built on real interaction, trust and indeed deep human nature. You can’t just have media, you can’t just have community media; in order to get anything done, you need real people, working in real community (or, in… communion) with each other.
So what gets the Nicosia Airport to the world is not media, is a community medium, a social capital, working together: Community Media is more about community and less about media. Will you join us? And about the old Nicosia Airport, from that single event, videos came out, directors met with each other, we are helping them screen their documentary and students were inspired to start photography as a social profession. And yes, start mingling and you will get the chance to do fun stuff like this, or make your own and invite us to join and help :). Information is power, let it flow at all directions and means.