Above, ‘Uncovered’, a short animated film inspired by women’s attitudes to community, participation and politics.
The best ideas are, usually, the most simple ones. That’s one reason I’m a fan of a new project called Politics Uncovered, a community-based attempt to demystify politics for women.
Working on the premise that a) women are still woefully underrepresented in politics and b) very few people know even the basics of democracy and government, social enterprise arts organisation The Original Ranch has produced an event that is something of a beginners guide to politics.
The Original Ranch recorded women’s views about community, participation and politics during several discussion groups last year. It used the material to create a short animated film (above) which, along with a basic lesson in the workings of government, constitutes the event Politics Uncovered. The lesson explains the key structures at national and local levels, describes the main players and their roles, and gives participants an opportunity to ask questions.
The first Politics Uncovered event at the end of November involved around 30 women from London, all political novices who wanted to find out more about government issues.
According to Olivia Bellas, founder of The Original Ranch, what makes the project unique is that it is a free and accessible ‘lesson’ in politics, presented in a non-politicised environment (the launch event was at the Women’s Library in east London and offered a crèche facility) and it offers interactive and creative approaches to learning.
Put simply, if you want a beginners guide to politics, delivered in an informative but interesting way, look no further.
“Politics can be quite difficult to grasp; there are many different players, institutions, mechanisms, and formalities,” says Bellas, “and so it is hardly surprising that many people may not fully understand it”.
Although there is as yet no formal evaluation, Bellas says that anecdotal evidence from participants reveals
an increased knowledge of and interest in politics and a feeling of empowerment.
The quirky template used in Politics Uncovered could be used to raise awareness of all sorts of social issues in communities, in a visually appealing way that participants find neither too intimidating nor too condescending. I’m interested to see how the project evolves in 2011.