PhotoVoice Meetings are the pillar of the PhotoVoice Project. From our first PhotoVoice Meeting in Koriyama City, Fukushima Prefecture in June of 2011, to those in Sendai City in Miyagi Prefecture, Miyako City in Iwate Prefecture, Ishinomaki City and Onagawa Town in Miyagi Prefecture, Fukushima City in Fukushima Prefecture, and the Tokyo Metropolitan Area, the scope of our PhotoVoice Meetings continues to expand.
PhotoVoice Meetings are group meetings centered on the PhotoVoice (Photos + Voices) methodology.Participants bring photos that they have taken to each meeting, selecting a few that they would like to share and discuss with the group. One by one the photos are projected onto a screen. The photographer is invited to share the intent and meaning behind the photo, while the group is able to discuss their own impressions and observations. Through these photos, participants have found it easier to verbalize emotions and problems that were otherwise difficult to put into words.The PhotoVoice Methodology is being implemented around the world.
PhotoVoice meetings aim to provide both “grief care” and “personal/group growth”. While grief care is typically used in helping those who have lost a loved one recover from intense feelings of pain and loss, we have extended its scope to include cases of loss of homes and treasured items. Through personal/group growth, we strive to improve the situations for those afflicted by disaster.
We also work with facilitators to conduct these routine meetings while stressing group dynamics. Facilitator training workshops and demonstrations allow others to learn about this unique mode of group facilitation through PhotoVoice, which allows this methodology to take root in a wide range of recovery policies and societal problems.
Through PhotoVoice Meetings, women from each project site are able to share photos taken from a variety of different perspectives, and from each photo a meaningful discourse emerges. With discussions ranging from the disasters’ effects on daily life and one’s mental state, to community and societal problems at large, to cherished memories of people, places, and possessions lost, these photos act as a platform for PhotoVoice members to share their experiences and emotions. This in turn fosters support and mutual understanding among PhotoVoice members and fellow disaster survivors from across Japan.
These meetings have also provided a space for participants to find meaning in their experiences, as well as how these experiences reflect larger community and societal problems. Our members take these experiences and shape them into a single message, or “voice”, that they can share with the community. The photos and voices painstakingly crafted by our members are then displayed across the nation and abroad at PhotoVoice Exhibitions, Community Forums, and Archives, acting as a vehicle for circulating and promoting the thoughts and experiences of those affected by the 3.11 disasters. PhotoVoice meetings are the foundation of all of these projects.