Last night, I was fortunate enough to have been invited to the 20th anniversary of WITNESS.
First off, any non-profit that sustains at all, let alone for 20 years is a feat in itself and should be applauded.
Though moreover, what I felt last night was special. The collective soul spirit in this space was palpable.
WITNESS ‘is an international nonprofit organization that has been using the power of video and storytelling for 20 years to open the eyes of the world to human rights abuses. WITNESS empowers human rights defenders to use video to fight injustice, and to transform personal stories of abuse into powerful tools that can pressure those in power or with power to act. By bringing often unseen images and seldom heard stories to the attention of key decision makers, the media, and the public–WITNESS catalyzes grassroots activism, political engagement, and lasting change.’
I have had a hard time swallowing this new reality. The fear and real truth that everywhere we turn, someone could take a video or picture of any moment of your life if they desire and so proceed, even without you knowing. I know many have actually chosen this as a ‘profession’ and not only love but aspire to live in this world of infamy, but it has never been for me.
It’s no secret I value and protect privacy fiercely.
Except when it’s a cover for abuse.
And breaking it can be an agent of change.
The impetus for WITNESS was the Rodney King, Jr. incident, where a bystander captured evidence of police brutality on his handheld video camera.
WITNESS ‘bridges the worlds of human rights, media and technology by incorporating cutting-edge innovations into traditional approaches to advocacy.’
VIDEO ADVOCACY. ‘The use of video as an integrated tool in human rights campaigns. Throughout much of the world a new generation is emerging – confident, connected, and open to possibility. A world with ‘cameras everywhere’ now gives us millions of potential witnesses to the Rodney King incidents of our time.’
WITNESS is an admirable model of how to take this ever growing world of technology and no real privacy, and capitalize on the best outcome possible. I know this isn’t necessarily a new realization, but definitely a worthwhile re-look, re-imagining, and at the very least, reminder, of where our energy could be placed.
From Peter Gabriel, one of the co-founders:
Kudos to them and to us to keep doing our part.