<i>"The Name of Our Country is América" - Simon Bolivar</i> The Narco News Bulletin<br><small>Reporting on the War on Drugs and Democracy from Latin America
 English | Español August 20, 2017 | Issue #67


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The World needs Spaces like the School of Authentic Journalism

Real change is going to be slow, but it will be steady


By Ingrid Cruz
Class of 2013, School of Authentic Journalism

May 4, 2015

Sometimes it’s hard to define yourself in social-justice movements. In the United States, you tend to get stuck on certain goals that are dictated by the nonprofit industrial complex. You forget that in order to have real impact, you need to focus on the stories that glue your community and movement together, and that you need to find creative ways to use the media to spread your movement, stories, victories and lessons learned so that others can engage.

Ingrid Cruz, alum of the 2013 School of Authentic Journalism

I know that before I attended the School of Authentic Journalism in 2013, I was stuck on the kind of organizing you see in many nonprofits in the US today. Everything had to be data-driven, everything I did was reported to founders I often didn’t know, and the massive paperwork of it all had me so overwhelmed that I had become out of touch with the very community I was involved with at the time. To make matters worse, I had been an artist for years. I’d been working on poetry, writing and illustrations for years, but had gotten so consumed with the nonprofit ideal of organizing that I often had no energy left to use these tools.

For several years I had been reading Narco News, and in late 2012 I decided to apply to this School of Authentic Journalism. I had been sneaking time away from my organizing work in order to work on my writing and art. Thankfully, this got the attention of many fellow community organizers who encouraged me to pursue this more creative direction to tell the stories of various movements in the US South. At the School of Authentic JournalismI learned that telling authentic stories is organizing. At least, it’s a type of organizing that sometimes gets tossed aside.

At the School of Authentic Journalism I learned from people such as Oscar Olivera, Mercedes Osuna, Mkhuseli “Khusta” Jack, Paulina Gonzalez and the various plenary speakers who had extraordinary wisdom with organizing for various movements and telling truthful stories about them. But I also learned that organizing, using journalism, and creativity also meant that there was time for fun. Everyone was encouraged to get to know each other, and although learning from each other’s experience was our priority, we were also there to get to know each other as people. We all formed lasting relationships and acquaintances as a result. Though we’re scattered all over the world, we all still keep in touch and read each other’s work, and several of us have gotten to see each other whenever we’ve been in the same part of the world.


Ingrid uses her art to empower social movements
When I returned from the School, I was able to relax a bit more in my organizing role. It took a lot of courage but eventually I had to quit working as an organizer at a nonprofit so I could pursue more creative ways of being involved.

Gradually I met others in the USA and abroad who supported me, and thanks to others at the School of Authentic Journalism who had been using their creative and journalistic talents to tell stories, I found mentors and constant sources of support.

The world, and the people who care about making changes to it, need spaces like the School of Authentic Journalism, where journalists, artists and organizers can have honest dialogues and exchanges that aren’t based on just some Westernized model of organizing, that aren’t just based on campaigns or mobilizations that are all about publicity. Real change is going to be slow, but it will be steady and far more forceful than a glitzy campaign with shallow objectives (though to be fair, such campaigns are useful and sometimes necessary). It’s important to keep these spaces alive and to allow a new class to experience the same gift other school participants have gotten in the past.

Join the Kickstarter campaign or go to authenticjournalism.org to learn more about the school.

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The Narco News Bulletin: Reporting on the Drug War and Democracy from Latin America