CO[LO]R[E]S - Part 1

At the annual America’s Junior Branch Meeting in 2014, held in Medellin, Colombia, the CO[LO]R[E]S project was developed. It is a project whose aim was to show the diversity within the region of the Americas through photos of everyday life. You might be asking yourself, why are there all these square brackets? Or could they not agree on how to spell ‘color’? The content area of the year for CISV International in 2014 was diversity, and what better way to demonstrate differences than by different colors? We see colors every day, whether it’s a yellow school bus, a blue (or in my case, grey) sky, a red car, or a funky psychedelic book at the library, our eyes are drawn to these stand out colors – making everything different and unique. So, with that in mind, myself from Canada, Flora from Brazil, and Paula from Colombia decided we wanted to make an easy and accessible project to connect people from across our continent. By the end of it, CO[LO]R[E]S became a beautiful e-book and an incredibly successful project which has some elements that are key when creating, and carrying out a project to its very end. While it was a success, we certainly encountered challenges along the way, but I am here to tell you how we overcame them, and how we made sure the successes outweighed the challenges, to develop this project.

            CO[LO]R[E]S was able to be so successful for two main reasons: the accessibility and simplicity of the project; and the massive amounts of promotion and reminders we used. We decided to use photos as our tool to show diversity, because who doesn’t love to snap a picture of their beautiful acai bowl, or capture the sunset on the beach? All that person had to do next was send it to us or fill out an easy online form we created with their name, country, and a brief description if they so chose, and it was included in our repository for the e-book. Once someone had sent their picture in, they had absolutely nothing else to do for the project, in case they wanted to submit again, which they were more than welcome to. Having the team do most of the work made it fun and easy for people to want to participate in the project, knowing that their small contribution would go into something big, bold, and beautiful.

            On the more technical side of the project, one that we as a team had a lot more control over was the promotion. We had a great social media team helping us, and with them we posted reminders at least weekly about the photos we were looking for. We switched themes bimonthly allowing for people to keep engaging with the project, and sending more photos in. Another way we were able to take advantage of peoples photos and social media, was by actually using what they sent us as promotional tools. For example we would post “we have already received pictures of X, Y, Z, but now we want to hear from you!”, and this would motivate not only those who recognized their pictures we would attach to the post as examples, but also those who had yet to contribute and realized that we were not looking for super technical, professional shots.

            One of the major problems we encountered, which every single project does whether it is giving away free hugs or running a chapter, was that of motivation, or lack thereof from participants. We knew from the beginning that people, especially ones our age who have so much else going on, would forget about CO[LO]R[E]S. This is where our promotional tactics of scheduling regular posts, and making them interesting to look at, as well as the ease of actually submitting once you were reminded by the post, came into play. It takes less motivation for a smaller project like this, especially because it was something people were already doing.

            Having an end goal that we as a team knew about, but that we also shared with our audience really motivated people to get involved as well. Having the opportunity to be included in a compilation of photos from around the region is a pretty cool and special thing that many participants wanted to be included in. We always knew our final goal, but once we set tangible goals using the SMART acronym tool, it became much easier to fill them, since we had a direct timeline for smaller steps, to achieve our larger purpose.

            So what are the stats for the final project? We received 135 photos from 10 countries from 34 individual JBers. How crazy and cool is that? It’s an amazing feeling knowing that we have engaged JBers from across the region who speak different languages, eat different food, and wake up differently every morning, with one simple project. But, in the end, that was the point of it!

- Mercedes (Canada)