Challenge for Change (C4C) is a not-for-profit media organization founded in 2016. It is the brainchild of The MacMillan Family Foundation, Inspirit Foundation and The National Film Board of Canada (NFB).
It is inspired by NFB’s groundbreaking program which ran from 1967 to 1980. The original Challenge for Change / Société Nouvelle brought together filmmakers, community organizers, and citizens to use participatory media-making as a tool to engage marginalized groups and address poverty.
“Through the process, the people of Fogo organized and persuaded the government to support a fishing cooperative and marketing board.”
The Fogo Process was the signature project of the original Change for Change. The island off Newfoundland was reeling from the collapse of the fishery and relocation was looming. Twenty-seven films were created by filmmaker Colin Low and the community and shared with other communities and government officials. Through the process, the people of Fogo organized and persuaded the government to support a fishing cooperative and marketing board. Together they rebuilt their economy and were able to remain on Fogo Island.
The Fogo Process is a beacon for us. We are seeking those same levels of impact: stronger communities and a tangible improvement in people’s lives.
Through listening and the democratic power of media, Challenge for Change will help build the country we want by strengthening relationships between people and communities.
We envision communities where people have the power to make change and create opportunity for themselves and others.
- C4C is about deep, genuine listening.
- C4C takes time to build relationships.
- C4C is creating media for change with communities rather than about them.
- Communities influence all aspects of C4C’s activities.
- C4C listens to all Canadians with a special focus on youth, newcomers and Indigenous peoples.
What We Do
Conversations are at the heart of C4C. We are creating opportunities for Canadians across the country to talk—to listen—to one another. The conversations are one-on-one between family members, friends, neighbours, travelling companions and total strangers.
Participants talk about a whole range of topics–love, loss, belonging, challenges. At times, the topics are completely left up to the participants and other times, questions are suggested or defined through workshops with the community.
You will find the conversations are often deeply personal, emotional, funny. We hope that listening to them is like an experience you may have had in a coffee shop where you’ve stopped checking your feeds or reading your book because the conversation at the next table is so darn interesting. We also hope you learn something too.
We facilitate, then record the conversations and create audio-visual media from the ones that resonate most. The media is distributed back into the community and nationally, to a broad audience. All the conversations we record will become part of a national archive available to all Canadians on the National Film Board’s website, NFB.ca
It is difficult to think of a more divisive time in our history. Distrust has been fomented by the Internet which channels us into our echo chambers and is awash in misinformation. Anonymous haters are thriving there, encouraged by politicians who are pitting people and groups against each other. Civil political discourse seems like a notion from another time.
We’re in a conversation crisis.
If we aren’t talking and listening to each other, we aren’t going to find common ground or solutions to our pressing social challenges.
Levels of engagement
C4C engages with Canadians and communities on a number of levels.
The first level is through conversations we are recording on VIA Rail trains and in communities along the way. Our team will be travelling across Canada working with passengers and participants who wish to have their conversations heard.
The second level involves deeper engagement with a community. We partner with local organizations and together, design a program to serve their community’s particular interests and needs. This engagement usually involves workshops, recording and distribution of edited conversations back into the community to provoke deeper conversation.
Then, where there is need—where there is traction with a community—we continue working with them for a prolonged period of time. The community and local support networks take the lead in what becomes an open-ended process of engagement and media-making to provoke dialogue and advance solutions. Our role is one of support and facilitation based on the belief that communities know what is wrong and they know how to fix it.
Our current Series is a collaboration with youth in foster care in the Vancouver area.
We believe listening deeply to each other’s stories and experiences can build bridges between individuals and communities. It can lead to some or all of the following:
- Deeper understanding of others.
- A shift in thinking about something (changed minds).
- Increased sense of belonging or decreased sense of isolation.
- Diverse groups working together.
- New relationships fostered.
- Increased, more nuanced discourse about belonging and inclusion.
- Stronger will to action.
- Life is better in tangible ways.
We will know these changes have happened through a combination of surveys, follow-up surveys and metrics.