"In a world inundated with information, there is a need for unconventional media." This is the message and mission of Potentia Media, the brainchild and heartchild of Amanda Jones, part of our focus this month on helping women heal the world. If you're going to indulge in more media today, make three of those indulgences short stops at Potentia's home , their Projects page, and Potentia Foundation's Keep A Girl in School film. And make the fourth Liz's new column.
Amanda first touched the spark of her longing to help create change during her wanderings as a travel writer and photographer. While traveling in the developing world, she wrote about and photographed some of the most remote tribes, and saw how underused women around the world seemed to be. "They were almost invisible, they had no voice, they were rarely present, and accompanied by men," she says.
It was during these travels that Amanda began to imagine a book and other media that would go beyond photos and statistics: an artistic, compelling presentation of the situation of women all over the planet. Amanda began imagining the possibilities of encouraging people to take social action based on messages spread by media, and the book, Potentia: How Women Can Change the Planet, was conceived.
Her research for the book began about six years ago: high art, combined with facts and figures to "arrest the reader with images" as a way to raise awareness. "Awareness leads to change," Amanda says. "The U.N. had done quite a bit of research which showed when women were educated, the effects reached beyond the woman and her family to a village, a community, and a nation, astonishingly." But print media has its challenges: It's hard to market and it has limited reach. The book will be published next April, but Amanda's intention has already taken on a wider scope.
So, Potentia, in partnership with CARE, is developing Keep A Girl In School, an innovative technology project that links kids in the developing world with kids in wealthier countries. It will provide support and structure for middle school, high school, and college students to create web campaigns that fund-raise for short-term, specific projects from CARE's "unfunded projects list."
Amanda says that list includes local projects that can make a difference in whether girls attend school. For example, the wells in a village in Afghanistan were contaminated during the war. Now, girls must walk many miles to get water each day and so are unable to attend school. It would cost about $150,000 to restore the wells, freeing up the girls to get back to their education. When schoolchildren in wealthier countries work to help kids around the world, that does more than keep a kid in school -- it teaches all kids about social activism at a young age, helping them become global citizens.
When I asked Amanda what her experience has been taking on something as massive as global equity for women, she said it had been difficult at times.
"As a travel writer, I was used to success, everything easy. This was harder: working outside my community, every step joyful but difficult. There have been disappointments and hurdles. If you'd told me six years ago that it would take me as long as it took to get to the vision, I'd have thought it was crazy." Yet Amanda remains committed and enthusiastic. "Though this is the most difficult thing I've ever done, the time is riper now than when we started." Though she still does travel writing "enough to satisfy her wanderlust" and consults for corporations on their social corporate responsibility goals, she spends the majority of her time on Potentia. Her long-term vision goes beyond these initial projects; she envisions Potentia taking on other social issues and working with corporate partners and non-profits in the long-term.
Keep A Girl In School will use technology to help kids in U.S. schools produce their own powerful media for social change. They'll choose a short-term project from the CARE list and become social entrepreneurs -- designing their message, building a web presence, merchandising, fund-raising, and tracking. Potentia is searching for corporate sponsors and technology partners to bring the full vision to fruition. If you have contacts who might like to contribute, here's your chance to keep more girls in school. You can contact Amanda through the Potentia website.
We love every part of this idea and think you will, too. Visit Keep A Girl In School and watch the video. If it makes you want to help a woman or a girl, check out our HumanKind Challenge #2 and follow your heart.