The 19 Million project: meet the winners

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This Friday, the 19 Million Project has come to an end.  In our intentions, maybe this is not quite the right word: a journey has just begun, with this coalition of journalists, human rights activists, designers, developers and academic researchers, completing two weeks of research and development of journalism and storytelling projects capable of addressing the refugee crisis in a new and effective way. An objective that it’s not easy to reach, but nonetheless an example of how different languages ​​and skills can work together and give surprising results, when goals are shared.

So, during the ceremony for the CILD Awards for Civil Liberties, we reserved a special place to the winning project coming out of these 2-weeks event, chosen for originality, effectiveness and narrative potential.

The jury, composed of Evangeline de Bourgoing (Global Editors Network), Elisabetta Tola (Google News Lab), Vicki Hammarstedt (Berkeley Advanced Media Institute), Mariana Santos and Jane Spencer (Fusion) and independent filmmaker Michael Berkman has therefore awarded the prize, officially called The 19 Million Project Media Innovation Award.


 And the winner is…

Project Summary Ultimum Refugium grew from a collaboration between South African architect Nadia Tromp and Costa Rican filmmaker Elda Brizuela.

Their description follows.

The idea for a living museum was conceived as a response to the question ‘how might we create empathy for refugees?‘ and the follow on question ‘how could we start telling different stories on the topic of the refugee crisis in order to change attitudes and create a new narrative?’

We feel that there needs to be a physical disruption of the urban landscape. We created the concept of a temporary, modular, locally fabricated piece of architecture that would transform an environment for a limited period of time and encourage engagement. It is imagined that this living museum would be placed in a historically meaningful urban space in a city, a contested space, to create a forced tension.

This is a reflection on a society that is orderly and well-structured, being juxtaposed to the perceived invasion of the refugees. It forces dialogue around issues that are uncomfortable and sometimes difficult to deal with.The modular design means that the museum could be erected quickly and easily. It could be dismantled and loaded on a truck to be transported from one city to the next. […] Our aim is to create a space where the public can be immersed into the stories of the refugee and where the stories could be experienced through a number of mediums, including virtual reality.

A shared victory
The judges decided to give recognition also to two other groups, who will work together with Nadia and Elda to develop Ultimum Refugium.

The runner up is Migrant’s Voice, whose idea is to create “video-kiosks” in public spaces such as universities and buses: its creators explain that the idea comes from the opinions of Italian citizens gathered in the street, many of whom expressed difficulty in feeling empathy towards the refugee crisis, after months of media bombardment and constant updating of the disaster numbers.

The idea behind the “video-kiosks” is precisely to replace the cold statistics with the faces that too long remained hidden behind the numbers, offering videos in which refugees tell their stories. “The platform will be like an open microphone,” wrote the creator team, which includes Stella Bin, Anna Cordioli, Marco Giannini, Melissa Garcia, and the two siblings Alexandra and Andres Lizcano Rodriguez.

Finally, a third project, Moving Voices, aiming to become a resource for others: it proposes a “mentorship” program between refugees and migrants who began their new lives and journalists, and “aims to create a real impact on European migration, acknowledging to migrants the right to tell their stories in their own voice and their own words – in a direct, non-filtered way”.

The creators are Roberto Acuña, José Nogueira, Mayra Báez Jimeno, Damiano Usala, Andrés Snitcofsky, Ulysses De La Torre, Chloe Anna Harman and Teresita Goyeneche P.

Among other projects, there were also a game-experience for smartphones based on the journey of a refugee traveling from Syria to Germany, a localization tool designed to support the journey of unaccompanied minors and a platform specifically designed to provide reliable information to the refugees in transit. All the teams that participated in the competition of The 19 Million Project will be invited to contribute to the exhibitions and installations of Ultimum Refugium.

The three winning teams will share the $ 5,000 prize; a member of each of the winning team will participate as a guest of Global Editors Network (GEN) to Vienna Hackathon that will be held during the GEN Summit in June 2016.

Certainly the largest project, the most important of all,  was to bring together for two weeks more than 150 people, representatives of 75 organizations and 27 countries worldwide – including AJ+ , BBC, Sunday Times of South Africa, New York Magazine, Financial Times, The Marshall Project, NPR, Clarín, The Observer and Chilevisión.

And this is just the beginning.