Inspiring community encounters in Talas
Mapping the communicative ecology of remoteness: another inspiring community radio encounter in the Talas region of Kyrgyzstan. To get there we had to go through two of the highest altitude mountain passes in the country and 11 hours of driving in total from the capital and back but the rewards were rich: stunning scenery that left us speechless and in awe of its grandness and superb data for our project.
Radiomost 100.5 FM (Radio Bridge), run by Gulmira Osmonova - yet another awesome catalyst for change whose dedication and admirable personal investment has made possible the running of this community station - provided us with a new model that is based not only on young school volunteers but also “people’s reporters” from the rural areas around Talas town, the main urban center of this region.
Two of these elderly ladies came to meet us, something we appreciated a lot as it is planting season and they are all busy with farming work. What formidable forces of womanhood! I was told later on that the second revolution in Kyrgyzstan started in Talas led by some strong women activists. I could definitely see that in the conversations we had with some of them, committed to have their communities' voices heard and they don't take no for an answer. When we asked these older ladies and the school volunteers what they have learned from working with each other, it was the old tartar's response to the youngsters comment that they learn much from their elders life experience that stayed with us: "...and they teach us how to use the internet".
Perfect symbiosis of generations in this community radio station then, one that brings together both old and young, rural and urban, both remote and some more remote from multiple centres and peripheries, the fighting spirit that comes with the life experiences these post-homo sovieticus bring with and the technology savvy generation of the future.
Each community is unique but it's their communicative ecology that gives us clues on why some have successful community media and other don't. It seems they all need a catalyst for change to facilitate their running but the rest is very much up to a unique combination of factors.