Friday, October 17, 2008

Rolling: A shining example of visual medical advocacy

Physician filmmakers are blazing a trail for visual medical advocacy and Dr. Gretchen Berland is at the forefront.

She spoke at University of Pennsylvania as part of a Roundtable on Visual Legal Advocacy and talked about her film Rolling. Rolling is a 71 minute documentary about patient-centered perspectives on wheelchair use that is creating a grass roots movement around issues of the disabled across the country.

Dr. Berland had a former career in TV production and insider knowledge about the traditional documentary-making process. In her former life she was a producer for MacNeil/Lehrer and NOVA. She entered medicine with the intent of putting her TV career behind her but the training revealed many misconceived notions about patients that slowly brought the need to document patient-centered perspectives.

Visuals are a powerful tool for accountability and with this in mind she gave cameras to the patients and empowered them to tell their own stories. In her documentary Rolling, the audience gets an unusually intimate perspective on what it means to be disabled. Dr. Berland not only gave editorial control to her patients but actually partook in an iterative editing process that involved them every step of the way over a two year period. Now that's commitment!

Dr. Berland recently spoke at a Roundtable on Visual Legal Advocacy at the University of Pennsylvania where she shared her thoughts and challenges in making the film. "The more control you give to the people you involve, the less of an issue it is," said Dr. Berland.

Dr. Berland is a shining example for what TruthAIDS hopes to do in teaching the public about health, and human rights. Her film aired on PBS this year and is available for free online at: ROLLING

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

"The website is bigger than me"

Tiberah Teshai recently wrote an article about Dr. Mehret and TruthAIDS for an Ethiopian on-line magazine. Writing the article was a process that shed some light:
"Before I even wrote the article, I had to stop and think about it for days. Where to to format it....there was a lot of information that people needed to know! After I read Dr. Mehret's responses, I felt something I never felt before. That's when it hit me that the website is bigger than me." -- Tiberah Teshai

That 'bigger than me' moment is how the personal becomes political. In that moment, all of our stories connect and remind us that a collective consciousness exists. The internet is a perfect platform for allowing the lessons that flow from this understanding to take shape and affect change.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Social change = No more business as usual!

The economic meltdown on wall street is proof positive that unchecked greed and exploitation has a limit. The paradigm of "business as usual" has ended.

A recent article entitled "The politics of women and leadership" in the San Diego Tribune by Kavita Ramdas, CEO of the Global Fund for Women, problematizes the paradigm within the context of women's worldwide increasing involvement in social change. "As president of the world's largest women's fund that has quadrupled in size over the past eight years, I've witnessed firsthand how women worldwide are choosing to invest in social change," Ramdas writes.

Ramdas continues to state that women's involvement in social change comes with the obligation of making sure it is not done using business as usual principles:

"The daunting scale of world problems, from fast-moving health epidemics and climate change, to food insecurities and the current collapse of the global financial system, require major structural changes for their solution. It is not enough for women to aspire to have the same rights and access to power as men. Instead of simply demanding a place at the table, women must have the courage and imagination to chart a wholly different way of organizing economic and political systems grounded in principles of egalitarianism, human rights and ecological sustainability. "

TruthAIDS is hoping to help chart this different way by keeping equity, dignity, and respect central to all projects, and using solidarity as the framework for all partnerships. It will require a lot unlearning, but the time has come for the tough discussions and we are hopeful that higher ground lies ahead.