Paul Redman on January sales

January is an exciting time of year for me as it is a chance to invest in the latest technology that gives EIA its cutting edge. Now don’t presume I am advocating needless spending, I hate waste and excess as much as any environmentally conscious activist but when it comes to investment it is people I have in mind when spending our hard earned funds.

Our campaigners go to great risk, as one did last year when he strolled into a logging port unaccompanied in Asia, clutching our latest technological wonder. He had in his hand a compact stills camera that records fantastic quality stills and broadcast quality footage in a device that is small enough to fit into his pocket, quickly, if trouble occurs. Our need for people to want to see our message means investing in visuals that attract your attention. The world is moving into High Definition and now we can too, albeit a beat behind, when the prices become affordable. Our evidence and information has always been of such high quality that broadcasters know that when we say we have new information it will not only be ground breaking but it will also be visually engaging. These new campaign tools will ensure we stay at the forefront of media based campaigning.

EIA Workshops in Tanzania 2010. Credit Paul Redman/EIA

EIA Workshops in Tanzania 2010.

It is not just EIA I will invest in this month but also in many talented individuals in Tanzania thanks to our funding from the UK Governments Department for International Development (DFID). Buying cheap, small and high quality video cameras, stills cameras and global positioning systems (GPS) means that the voice of rural communities can reach decision makers in the time it takes to send an email. In Tanzania it is not EIA that is doing the telling. It is people like: Elisha Thompson, known as ‘big brother’ he has used the latest gadgets we provided to tell the story of impoverished children in his ‘DREAM’ film now showing at the ‘Un-inhibited Muse Festival’, or Erica Rugabandana with her film on Loliondo pastoralists that made the Tanzanian government formally recognize the pastoralists’ rights to look after their forest land; or Mwalimi a villager in Southern Tanzania who recorded, with one of our gadgets, the illegal loggers stealing from his ancestral forests resulting in government enforcement. We live in an exciting time when technology for high quality recording becomes affordable to many and the term ‘citizen journalism’ has become a reality.

So if you are heading out into the January sales to stock up on your clothes cupboard or buy that flat screen TV you missed out on at Christmas, stop and think. Perhaps this is the year to carefully invest in a small camera or laptop so you can become a campaigner too and expose the issues that you feel passionately about.