This thesis examines the use of popular education in rural Newfoundland as a methodology for empowering individuals and communities to participate in social change. It is set in the context of small communities in crisis, the essence of which is a decimated inshore fishery.

The primary purpose of the field work was to collaborate with local people to develop a means of community organizing which would draw immediate attention to and action on community and fishery survival issues. Popular communication approaches including theatre and video were chosen as the educational responses best suited to this desire for awareness and mobilization.

Three processes of popular education were undertaken between the fall of 1989 and the winter of 1991. All are described in the context of relevant literature on popular education. An interpretation and analysis of this work is provided and several aspects of the organizational approach are reviewed. Various learning strategies are discussed and an analysis of the overall outcomes emerging from these processes is given. Conclusions, based upon key learnings coming out of the analysis and interpretation of this work, are outlined. Recommendations, based upon these conclusions and which will be relevant to other practising popular educators, are provided.


I am indebted to the people of the Cape Shore and St. Mary's Bay. The work described in this thesis could not have occurred without their openness, enthusiasm, and creativity. I am exceptionally thankful to Fred Campbell, the MUN Extension program developer involved from the beginning, whose vision and genius propelled this work. John Corcoran was vital to the Branch process and deserves accolades for his determination and sense of humour which kept the process afloat when it was foundering upon the rocks. Keith Careen, Fabian Manning and Gerald Dalton all deserve credit for helping to develop the Cape Shore process. Bernadette Didham, Linda Downey, Anne Hearn, Paddy O'Keefe and Ben Power all warrant recognition for their hard work and risk-taking with the St. Mary's Bay process. My colleagues at MUN Extension deserve thanks for their ongoing support. I am esespecilly appreciative of Ian Hunt who walked beside me for five years. His encouragement was the tar that prevented my sometimes leaky boat from sinking. I am grateful to the faculty and staff of St. F.X. Adult Education Department for their support and for selecting me as the 1993 John Dobson Memorial Award recipient. Finally I would like to thank John Reigle and Camille Fouillard who suffered through various early drafts of this work and to Susan May who read the final draft.







My Role
MUN Extension Service's Role in Participatory Communication
The Crisis Facing Rural Newfoundland in 1989
Purposes of the Thesis
Definition of Terms
Plan of Presentation


Popular Education
Popular Theatre
Popular Theatre Defined
Community Documentary-Drama Theatre
Community Development Theatre
Personal or Group Growth Theatre
for Action Theatre

Popular Video
Popular Video Defined
Development Support Communications and
Information/Technology Transfer Video
Dialogue, Empowerment and Organizing for
Action Video
Self-Analysis and Personal Growth Video
Framework Derived From the Literature


The Fishery and Our Communities' Economy:
Popular Video and Conference
Background Context
The Planning Process
The Implementation Process
Popular Video Production
The Conference or Public Event
Follow-up Activities
Content of the Video and Conference

Cape Shore Community Video Week and Fisheries
Survival Forum
Background Context
The Planning Process
The Implementation Process
The Community Video Week
The Fisheries Survival Forum
Follow-up Activities
Content of the Video and Forum

Branch Popular Theatre Process
Background Context
The Planning Process
The Implementation Process
The Dialogues
The Concert
Follow-up Activities
Content of the Dialogues and Mummer


Overall Organizational Approach
My Educational Philosophy
MUN Extension Support for Field Worker
Role of Community Committees and Local Leaders
Working With and Through Local Structures
Role of Experts
Processes Rather Than Events

Learning Strategies
Starting With the Learners Experience
Generative Themes
Use of Popular Theatre
Use of Popular Video

Analysis of Outcomes
Improved Community Dialogue and Information Sharing
Development and Enhancement of Skill and Confidence
Impact on Local Leaders and Community Organizations
Follow-up Community Action






This province is littered with the carcasses of diversification. Without fish there is no diversification. Without fish there is no soul, no pride, no nothing. You are useless as a Newfoundlander unless you have that four-letter word in your mind. Think fish. Until you think fish, until you have a positive attitude about fish, until you love fish, you're not worth a shit. (Cletus Canning speaking at an public forum in Ferryland, NF, June 1990)



Much has been written about the theory of popular education as a methodology for promoting participation of the oppressed in reflection, action, and social change. Less has been written about the implementation and practical application of this methodology especially as it pertains to the rural North American context. This thesis documents my efforts at developing a practical approach to popular education that is relevant and appropriate to rural Newfoundland communities in crisis.

My interest in adult education stems from 8 years of community development and non-formal educational experience in Newfoundland. Here I observed first-hand the nature of the crisis facing rural communities and the ineffectiveness of traditional community development or educational approaches at empowering local people to take action on issues that most concerned them. I had my first exposure to popular or social-change education and two of its more specific techniques: popular theatre and popular video. In 1988, I enroled in the Masters of Adult Education Program at St. Francis Xavier University to further develop my skills and knowledge in this area of popular education.

From September 1989 to January 1992, as a field worker with the now defunct Extension Service of Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN Extension), and with the framework of the St. Francis Xavier Masters Program, I sought to apply popular education theory to the most serious issues facing communities in Newfoundland. These issues primarily revolved around the crisis in the fishery, as defined by the Coalition for Fisheries Survival (1990):

There is a fisheries crisis. The nets are empty, the fish are gone, the water is sterile, the oceans have been raped. Now we must bear the consequences. In essence we are facing not only a fisheries crisis, not simply a management crisis, but a human crisis of unparalleled proportions. (p. 5)

This thesis is intended to provide a contribution to the field of adult education. It is particularly relevant to popular education practitioners working hand in hand with the oppressed and disenfranchised of rural Newfoundland and Labrador. It should also be relevant to practitioners in other parts of Canada and in the Third World.


My Role In September 1989, I began work with Memorial University of Newfoundland in the capacity of field coordinator with the Division of Continuing and General Studies and Extension. This position was based in the Western Region of the Avalon Peninsula and encompassed communities along Trinity Bay, Placentia Bay, and St. Mary's Bay.

My role was to travel throughout the region to conduct community analyses and educational needs assessments, to support active citizen involvement in community issues, and to make recommendations about services required to both the University and MUN Extension. The field coordinators operated as part of a team of university adult educators and were the constant link between MUN Extension and rural Newfoundland and Labrador. Field coordinators were expected to have knowledge of non-formal educational methods, the ability to apply the principles and techniques of community development, and skills in the use of video as a social animation tool. Field coordinators were also expected to be able to animate individuals and groups in locally initiated projects and to work with all segments of a community. They needed to understand and deal effectively with community change, as well as the educational components which assist change and people's participation in it.

MUN Extension's Role in Participatory Communication

MUN Extension worked in rural Newfoundland and Labrador to facilitate social change, community development, and community communication for more than 25 years. It was best known for its 1967 involvement in the National Film Board's (NFB) Challenge for Change program, in which the NFB promoted the use of film (and later video), as a catalyst for positive social change (Karim, 1988).

The ground-breaking work of the Fogo Island Project (also known as the Fogo Process and named after the Newfoundland island where it originated), was realized in a series of 28 films which served primarily as a social catalyst for community development. These films for the most part were not edited but rather developed and used on Fogo Island and within the province to allow people to communicate with themselves and government without hostile confrontation. Following the initial project, MUN Extension established a media unit to assist field workers to apply the Fogo Process in their community development and social change work. During these early days of the Fogo Process, film was used "to catalyze community development by opening channels of communication where few existed" (Henaut & Klein, cited in Moore, forthcoming, p. 98), or in other words to get local people to speak for themselves.

Beginning in 1979 and continuing over the next decade, MUN Extension field workers used film, video and portable television transmitters to facilitate development in rural communities. With the participation of community people, the media unit would set up a studio in a local hall for live television events, during which the community would be encouraged to discuss issues, ideas, and solutions for positive community change.

In 1989, MUN Extension staff in the western Avalon region began to refine an approach to social animation using social change video that they called "popular video" because of its people empowerment orientation. With an approach similar to the Fogo Process, they began to create situations where popular video in conjunction with other popular education techniques (such as popular theatre) aimed at promoting participation in social change. The goal of popular video was "ongoing participatory communication, as opposed to the one way, vertical, top-down approach of traditional media" (Campbell, 1991, p. 3). Popular video differed significantly from the earlier Fogo Process and transmitter projects in that community people had complete control over the video taping and editing equipment, and attempts were made to bring permanent community television to the people as part of the process. By working with community-based groups to establish a community channel in a community, MUN Extension hoped that the community would continue to communicate, analyze and organize long after MUN Extension was gone.

The Crisis Facing Rural Newfoundland in 1989

Many communities of rural Newfoundland and Labrador have been in a state of social, economic, environmental and cultural crisis since the 1960s. In the fall of 1989 when I began work with MUN Extension, the key issues facing the communities of the Western Avalon Region included:
(a) the crisis in the fishery; (b) uncontrolled clear cutting of provincial forests; (c) industrial disease associated with the US Naval Facility at Argentia and the Long Harbour elemental phosphorus plant; (d) cuts in federal transfer payments; and (e) massive unemployment and out-migration. The problem addressed in this thesis is set in the context of these various issues.


Rural Newfoundlanders are now facing an overwhelming number of socio economic crises and issues. Responding constructively to these crises and issues is a struggle for most communities. The problems are massive, complicated, and in many instances beyond the control of community people. For over 30 years, MUN Extension attempted to assist rural communities to help themselves respond to economic collapse and community survival issues. MUN Extension developed an approach that helped communities to participate in their own development and social change learning processes. These processes relied on various adult education and community development models and sometimes used popular education methodology. The elimination of MUN Extension in 1991 cut short many of these processes, but a number of lessons were learned which are relevant to other Newfoundland and Labrador communities in crisis and which may be appropriate for rural communities in other parts of Canada and the Third World. The principal question that this thesis examines is: how can popular education methodology be effectively applied to problems and issues facing rural communities of Newfoundland and beyond, in a way that empowers individuals and communities to participate in social change?

Purposes of the Thesis

There are four interrelated purposes of this thesis. These are: (a) to document and critically analyze my efforts at using popular education methodology in rural Newfoundland in the context of working with MUN Extension and the crisis facing rural Newfoundland communities; (b) to examine how the tools and techniques of popular theatre and popular video were used in three popular education processes; (c) to discuss the effectiveness and appropriateness of these processes and how they could have been improved upon; and (d) to make recommendations about how the methodology, the specific tools, and the techniques can be applied by others involved in popular education.


This thesis focuses on three projects aimed at engaging people in processes of popular education in rural Newfoundland. All three examples, although distinct and separate from one another, are connected. An educational process initiated in one community was often connected to what had happened in another community at an earlier time. Overall, this thesis focuses on process facilitation in popular education. All participants were rural Newfoundlanders with the exception of MUN Extension employees and, on occasion, outside resource people.


As a MUN Extension field worker, I had many requests for assistance from the region. There were times when I found myself overextended and this limited the amount of time I could focus on the three educational processes discussed here. It was sometimes difficult to document the process adequately because I was required to be highly mobile and responsive to many different issues in several communities at once. Thus, some of the data in this thesis comes from reflection after the fact rather than from documentation at the time.

When MUN Extension was eliminated in March of 1991, the resources and support services needed for adequate follow-up initiatives to each of the three processes were withdrawn. This effected community motivation for action as participants believed they could not continue without MUN Extension's help. Follow-up initiatives that did occur, did so with limited outside support.


A significant strength of this work was that as a MUN Extension field worker I lived in the area in which I worked. This enabled me to get to know the community and gain its trust in a way that could only occur if one lived with the people of rural Newfoundland.

Another strength contributing to these three projects was the reputation of MUN Extension in rural Newfoundland, which facilitated the entry of a new field worker. Most communities had past experiences with MUN Extension. They often understood that the approach of a field worker was very different from that of a government development worker often not trusted by the community.


One group of primary sources used in this thesis is the numerous practitioners who have documented their own work in popular education, adult education, community development, popular theatre, and popular video. Many of these have come from a Third World rural cultural context. These authors have documented efforts at building participation in rural development, developing critical thinking, facilitating social analysis, reflection and action. They were consulted either in person or through the literature.

Another group of sources for this thesis came from key individuals within MUN Extension. Field workers with direct experience in the Fogo Process, colleagues developing the concept of popular video, artists and theatre workers working for social change, and academics were all a part of my daily work at MUN Extension. This was fertile ground for me to explore and develop my own understanding and approach to popular education.

A third group of sources for this thesis were the community people involved in the popular education processes. Whether members of community planning committees or participants in public events, the people of the Western Avalon Region of Newfoundland were the source of much of what follows in this thesis.

Definition of Terms

There are several terms that are important to this thesis. I define them here to clarify my usage of them.
Popular education is an approach to adult education that is directed towards the promotion of radical social change. It has as its focus structural transformation of the social order through the development of a critical social consciousness and action among those that are oppressed (Freire, 1970).
Popular theatre is a form of popular education and differs only in that it is a specific technique of popular education. It is a theatre "in which the language, struggles, dreams, and culture presented are those of the people whose story it is" (Spry, 1989, p. 2). Like popular education, popular theatre's aim is to encourage people to explore their realities and to share their understanding of them with one another. Issues and events that are current in the participants' and audience's life struggles are dramatized in an attempt to promote participation and action with the goal of community change.
Popular video is a term used by some MUN Extension staff to refer to the use of video technology in a way that is participatory and empowering (Gomez, 1991). Like popular theatre, the intent of popular video is to promote analysis leading to action, and fundamental societal change. Popular video also involves participants in the documentation, analysis and dramatization of issues current to their concerns and needs for learning.

Plan of Presentation

The thesis is organized into five chapters. Chapter 1 provides a background for the problem including a description of MUN Extension's role in participatory communications, the crises facing Newfoundland in 1989, and my role in the work described in this thesis.

The second chapter provides a review of the relevant literature on popular theatre and popular video in the context of popular education. It reviews the work of numerous practitioners from both Canada and the Third World. Chapter 3 describes three popular education processes undertaken in the western Avalon region of Newfoundland. These processes explored the use of theatre and video as tools for promoting participation in community based social change. For each process the background of the community is discussed as well as the planning and implementation of the process, the content, and specific outcomes.

Chapter 4 presents an overall interpretation and analysis of this work and discusses major outcomes. It outlines various aspects of my organizational approach including my educational philosophy, my autonomy as a field worker, the role of community committees and local leaders, working with and through local structures, equalizing the role of experts to that of ordinary participants, and focusing on processes rather than events. It then discusses the learning strategies used: starting with the learners experience, the use of generative themes, and the use of both theatre and video. The chapter concludes with an analysis of the overall outcomes of the work: improved community dialogue and information sharing, the development and enhancement of skill and confidence, the impact on local leaders and community organizations, and follow-up community action.

Chapter 5 summarizes major learnings in this study drawing conclusions from the experience and analysis outlined in the previous chapter. It provides recommendations for popular educators both in Newfoundland and in other contexts who are interested in further developing their practice of popular education.



Within the field of adult education there exists a wide range of philosophies regarding the overall purpose of the educational process. One of these orientations is social change or transformation, and it is this philosophical orientation assumed in this thesis. One educational approach within this philosophical orientation is popular education. Popular education emphasizes learning for the purpose of enabling people to participate in change in the social order. It uses a variety of participatory techniques, two of which are reviewed in this chapter. The first is popular theatre, which emphasizes theatre as a component of community development, personal or group growth, and political awareness and change. The second is popular video, which emphasizes video technology and social animation as a tool for development support communications, information transfer, dialogue, empowerment, organizing for action, self-analysis and self-development. The literature selected is primarily from Canada and the Third World. This chapter provides a framework from which the educational focus of this thesis can be understood.

Popular Education

Popular education owes its origins to the social change or transformation tradition of adult education. Its development can be linked to the social reform movements of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including the mechanics' institutions and other workers' educational associations (Radforth & Sangster, 1987; Robin, 1987). It is closely allied to the social action efforts of educators like Moses Coady, who worked with the Antigonish Movement in Nova Scotia during the depression (Lotz & Welton, 1987), Myles Horton, founder of the Highlander Folk School in Tennessee which linked adult education to union organizing and the civil rights movement (Adams, 1975), and Saul Alinsky (1971), a social change radical who worked to create mass organizations in the United States with the goal of seizing power from the status quo. The thrust of popular education like that of social transformation adult education, is the empowerment of the oppressed leading to radical participation in social change.

Paulo Freire, the educator most prominently associated with the social transformation orientation to adult education, is generally credited with developing the initial principles of popular education (Arnold, Barndt & Burke, 1985; Arnold, Burke, James, Martin & Thomas, 1991; CUSO, 1988; Gatt-Fly, 1983; Social Action Commission: Diocese of Charlottetown, 1987). In his work with adult literacy
programs, Freire (1985) developed his theory of conscientization. He later published some initial critiques of traditional forms of education. His theory countered the traditional approach to education, which construed a relationship between teacher and learner that put the former in a position of superiority (CUSO, 1988).

Cadena (1984) suggests that popular education can be distinguished from other types of education for change, not only by its goal of radical social change, but also because: (a) popular education seeks in its daily work to implement an alternative society, (b) it aims to expand the number of organizations and people committed to such a society, (c) it strives to promote the growth of critical consciousness,
(d) it attempts to develop capacity to transform reality, and (e) it works diligently to strengthen class organizations.

Arnold et al. (1991) see education for social change and popular education as the same process because they are both "participatory, creative and empowering" (p. 5). However, they clearly outline how the principles for effective adult education practice differ from the principles of education for social change. According to Arnold et al., adult education is an approach wherein:
(a) the goals are clear, (b) participants are allowed to make mistakes, (c) the experience of participants is valued and used, (d) they get direct and frequent feedback,
(e) they feel respected and listened to, (f) they have input into how teaching and learning happen, (g) new facts are connected to what they already know, (h) they see what they are learning as valuable and, (i) differences in identity and experience are acknowledged. However, for social change education they add twelve additional principles:
(j) education for social change is not neutral, (k) it critically examines unequal power relations, (l) it names and challenges ideas and practices that support inequality, (m) it addresses conflict, (n) it encourages creative expression, (o) it uses the mind, hands and emotions, (p) it is a continuing process and not a single event, (q) it strengthens organization, (r) it encourages collective action for change, (s) it models democratic relations between learner and leader, (t) it includes both reflection and action, and (u) it puts local issues into national and global contexts.

Vio Grossi (1981) describes popular education as "an alternative educational approach directed toward the promotion of social change rather than social stability"
(p. 71). He says popular education's intent is often different from other aspects of adult education because it attempts to detach itself from educational efforts that are oriented toward the maintenance of an unjust and oppressive society. He adds that popular education is a collective effort that promotes common action. It is a flexible process that continually adapts to the changing conditions of the participants.

Buttedahl (1985) reviews the training of adult educators and popular educators in Latin America. She believes the distinction between popular education and adult education to be crucial. She says adult education is a governmental activity mainly concerned with technical competence and social responsibility, and popular education is non-formal education designed to foster social change and social integration. Whereas "adult educators seem to encourage maintenance learning designed to maintain the status quo, popular educators foster innovative learning intended to foster change" (p. 95). She adds that government adult educators trained within the system often fail to understand the essence of participatory approaches or the dynamics of development, and "they do not always capitalize on the prior experience of the adult learner when developing and implementing programs" (p. 100).

In contrast Chetwynd (1989), writing about the relationship between democracy and the role of education in the Nicaraguan revolution, describes how the Sandinista Ministry of Education decided to "develop and apply the conception and methodology of popular education throughout the entire educational system and not simply just in the adult education program" (p. 19). Popular education was viewed as a methodology that could be applied to bring about fundamental change, even though its implementation on a national scale by the government, ironically, made it the status quo.

Hope and Timmel (1984), in their three volume handbook for community workers entitled Training for Transformation, describe a training program known as Development Education and Leadership Teams in Action (DELTA). It has as one of its five major sources Paulo Freire's work on critical awareness. However they combine this concept with other approaches to education not normally viewed as being popular education, such as human relations training and organizational development. Few other authors or practitioners using Freire's methodology put forth the idea that an educational approach seeking to radically change the oppressive structures of society could co-exist with another approach that seeks to improve organizational effectiveness within that same structure.

Although Hope and Timmel (1984) may reconcile Freire's methodology with other more traditional approaches to education, Kidd and Kumar (1981) devote considerable attention to the issue of how Freirean terminology and concepts have been co-opted and distorted by individuals and institutions interested in "influencing the direction of political change in the Third World" (p. 28). They dub this distorted educational theory as the pseudo-Freirean perspective. Their concern is not with deviating from Freire's ideas, but rather with the "development and promotion of a theory that operates under the cover of Freirean terminology and serves material interests which are directly antithetical to Freire's aim of transforming the structures of oppression in the world" (p. 28).

Despite ongoing reflection and debate within the adult education movement popular education as an approach is gaining widespread usage among social action groups seeking learning for empowerment of marginalized people (Arnold et al., 1991; Social Action Commission, 1987). Although there are various approaches used for implementing this social change education, one of the most widely discussed in the literature is popular theatre.

Popular Theatre

Popular theatre inherently contains the fundamental characteristics of popular education (Bappa, 1981; Kidd, 1980; Kidd & Rashid, 1984). Most practitioners refer to Freire's work on critical consciousness (Bappa, 1981; CUSO, 1988; Kidd 1980). Some use the terms popular theatre and popular education interchangeably (Evans, 1985). Others describe popular theatre in the context of popular communications (Epskamp, 1989) or development support (Williamson, 1991), and still others describe a form of theatre much like popular theatre but yet do not use the term (Brookes, 1974; Selman, 1986; Souchotte, 1987).

The varied definitions of popular theatre help to show the spectrum of purposes for which popular theatre has been developed. In addition to providing a range of definitions for popular theatre use, in this section I explore four broad categories of popular theatre practice: (a) community documentary-drama theatre; (b) community development theatre; (c) personal or group growth theatre; and (d) conscientization and organizing for action theatre.

Popular Theatre Defined

Brookes (1974) suggests that "popular theatre is theatre which speaks to the common man [or woman] in his language and idiom and deals with problems of direct relevance to his [or her] situation" (p. 7). But he says that it may not necessarily be designed to bring about action nor necessarily involve the community in the actual theatrical production.

Bappa (1981) believes that "popular theatre is theatre developed through improvisation, which uses local materials, the local dialect, and members of the community or persons with whom the community could easily identify" (p. 24) to explore problems facing the people involved, but which must involve the audience and actors in the task of discussing and planning for social change.

Evans (1985) defines the practice with the words of an anonymous Filipino community organizer: "popular theatre is to our movement for social change what music has been to the Latin American struggle; it is the means by which we can become aware of and give expression to, and begin to act on, the sufferings and hopes that define our situation"
(p. 140).
Souchotte (1987), in reviewing the Worker's Experimental Theatre of the early 1930s and the Theatre of Action of the late 1930s, describes how both theatres "recognized that theatre need not be just escapist entertainment but could be an instrument of artistically viable political instruction" (p. 127). The term popular theatre may not have been in vogue in Canada 60 years ago, but it is clear that this theatre "designed to expose and ridicule what was considered to be an exploitative bourgeois society" (p. 113), was a forerunner of popular theatre in Canada.

Panday (1984) describes the popular theatre process that he and a group of factory workers went through as "a collective activity from start to end, it can help to link and comprehend minutely the life around us" (p. 120). He states that such a process was instrumental in raising the consciousness of workers about their rights at the factory and in ultimately developing a working class consciousness.

Hamilton (1987) describes a form of theatre designed to encourage assertiveness and self-appreciation, to improve written and verbal communication skills, and to raise awareness of the participants' social condition and of important issues affecting them. This theatre was used to motivate young adults who "have failed to master the marketable skills necessary for survival in today's urban society" (p. 43). This theatre differs greatly from the theatre described by Bappa (1981) and Evans (1985) because it concentrates on helping participants to fit into the system as opposed to creating critical awareness leading to structural societal change.
Community Documentary-Drama Theatre
Community documentary-drama theatre attempts to document and dramatize the life of a community and to act as a mirror for self-identification and action (Kidd, 1981). Selman (1986) refers to this approach as documentary theatre. The production celebrates the community by giving it a public voice, and has great educational potential in terms of enabling participants and viewers to reflect upon community issues. She states however, that to achieve educational and change goals, follow-up with the community is essential.

The Mummers Troupe of Newfoundland performed a documentary community drama entitled Gros Mourn in 1973. Brookes (1974) describes the theatre process used as "a powerful tool in aiding self-awareness and community analysis" (p. 7). Brookes regards the performance in terms of art first, with a secondary purpose of bringing relevant theatre to the people. He makes no reference to the need for follow-up, in contrast to Selman's (1986) approach.

Kidd and Rashid (1984) review the history of the well- known theatre group Aranyak from Bangladesh. Aranyak had originally spent a great deal of energy doing theatre for the people in a documentary style not unlike that of the Mummers. Aranyak would choose to develop their theatre on political issues that they saw as being relevant to the public. But eventually poor audience response, led them to shift their focus from being theatre performers to cultural animators. In other words, they began doing "theatre by the people, for the people and of the people" (p. 32).

Overall, the community documentary-drama approach to popular theatre has educational potential in terms of raising public awareness (Selman, 1986) and aiding community analysis (Brookes, 1974). Seldom are the terms structural change or social transformation found in the literature when describing this type of theatre. This suggests that a form of theatre that primarily documents and mirrors the community may not be intended (or enough) to bring about fundamental social change.

Community Development Theatre

Many authors make reference to popular theatre as a tool for community development (Bappa, 1981; Brookes, 1974; Kidd, 1981; Kidd & Rashid, 1984; Selman, 1986). This approach to theatre differs from community documentary-drama theatre in that it attempts to encourage participation in concrete community development actions. Unlike community documentary-drama this theatre is less concerned with mirroring the reality of a community than with the implementation of specific development projects often planned by those not from the community.

Bappa (1981) describes the Play on Hygiene which focused on the dangers of poor personal hygiene in a village in Nigeria. This production resulted in community discussions about potential follow-up work. He does not elaborate on any specific outcomes, but stresses that similar performances were having a positive impact on villages in other areas of the country.

Malamah-Thomas (1987) relates how Community Theatre for Integrated Development workshops, implemented by the Institute of Adult Education and Extra-Mural Studies at the University of Sierra Leone, helped participants take collective action in solving some of the problems dramatized, such as the need for construction of pit latrines. In this context, theatre was used to mobilize people to action, but not to question the status quo. Like Bappa, Malamah-Thomas sees the use of popular theatre for solving specific development problems and not necessarily for analysis, empowerment and social change.

Community development theatre has great potential to promote and encourage positive developments in rural communities. However, because it is often initiated from outside the community and subsequently does not gain the full participation of the public, development projects encouraged by it often fail if adequate follow-up efforts are not provided (Epskamp, 1989).

Personal or Group Growth Theatre

Many adult educators have used theatre as an individual or group skill development mechanism. Hamilton (1987) in her work with Inuit youth from Baffin Island, describes a process of experimental theatre that had an overall objective of leading youth to seek further training and to consider various job opportunities. The theatre work intended to motivate youth to master marketable skills, to increase their committment to continue with long-term personal development activities and to help them survive in an urban society. Hamilton's theatre, did not attempt to bring about fundamental societal change but rather worked to promote individual coping or survival skills.

Selman (1986) describes popular theatre's usefulness as a personal and group development tool. The focus of popular theatre (or developmental drama), she says, is on building personal development and communication skills including trust, concentration, imagination, and cooperation. Through the technique of role-playing, "people are encouraged to try out new behaviour patterns in a non-threatening situation" (p. 18), and they can confront difficult situations by trying out new approaches to solving them. Selman's work shares many characteristics of the theatre developed by Hamilton (1987) in terms of its personal and skill development potential.

Kidd (1981) explores the concept of theatre as a tool for remedial education. By focusing on specific problems facing individuals--such as alcoholism, drug abuse, rape and family tension--and by encouraging participants to develop and change each performance, people not only become more aware of the problems facing them, but become active participants in the search for alternative solutions to these problems. Although personal or group growth theatre is primarily of an individual problem-solving nature, this does not exclude its potential for more collective problem- solving around issues that are more societal or structural. Depending on the circumstances, personal or group growth theatre can be similar to community development theatre, if the personal problems identified by individuals are similar to those affecting others in the broader community.

Conscientization and Organizing for Action Theatre

Popular theatre that is intended to develop participants' and communities' sense of political awareness or critical consciousness as defined by Freire, differs from the other three forms in terms of the overall intent for the theatre process. Conscientization and organizing for action theatre differs in that it is designed to get beyond the development of awareness and ideas to promote organization and action to bring about societal change.

Bappa (1981) explains that the impact of theatre is limited if it focuses only on the development of awareness and ideas and adds that "it has to involve its otherwise passive audience in the task of acting, discussing and charting out change" (p. 24). He adds that although participants may be more able to see the interconnectedness of their problems and beyond a surface analysis through identifying and dramatizing social problems, the development and practice of critical thinking skills are essential if participants are to be able to transform their situation. Without an emphasis on follow-up he says, conscientization alone will not ensure that change occurs.

Malamah-Thomas (1987) cites the 1974 Botswana Theatre for Development project as a good example of the action-oriented approach to popular theatre. This project served as a catalyst for critical analysis, problem-solving and collective action. By using this form of theatre to mirror reality, community members were more likely to work together on community decisions to bring about fundamental social structural change.

Kidd (1981) suggests that popular theatre intended to promote conscientization can play a useful role in the heightening of class struggle "but that on its own it has little chance of success" (p. 15). He suggests that if theatre workers and community organizers could work together from the beginning of the process of conscientization, then further organizing could build upon the momentum generated by the actual drama performance.

A technological innovation in the field of adult and popular education which uses an approach not unlike that of popular theatre, is that of popular video.

Popular Video

Popular video defines an approach to using video technology in a way that is "with and by the people" (Gomez, 1991, p. 10). Like popular theatre, the overall intent of popular video is learning through analysis, which leads to action directed towards fundamental personal or societal change. The primary difference between popular theatre and popular video is the nature and level of technology used. Whereas popular theatre uses mainly local materials and resources, popular video uses the technology of small format (VHS) video which is often brought into the community from the outside. Like popular theatre which attempts to put an instrument for popular communication in the hands of local people (Epskamp, 1989), popular video's essence "lies not in its products but in its use, inserted in the organization process of the communities and popular organizations" (Gomez, 1991, p. 14). As well, Pica's description of popular theatre as "vital and vitalizing, entertaining, intelligent, and provoking of the intelligence of the people" (in Epskamp 1989, p. 55) is relevant to popular video. Like a popular theatre process which may or may not arrive at a theatrical presentation, a popular video process may or may not arrive at a completed video tape.

Popular video is a specific technique or methodology used in popular education. The literature contains a wide range of terms and definitions to describe and situate the use of video as a tool for social change and development, as well as a wide spectrum of applications. In this section I examine definitions of popular video and three categories of its use: (a) for development support communication and information/technology transfer; (b) for dialogue, empowerment and organizing for action; and (c) for self-analysis and personal growth.

Popular Video Defined

Although the term popular video may be relatively new, the use of video technology as a tool for dialogue (Madhaven, 1984), self-analysis (Taylor, 1991), empowerment (Protz, 1991), social change (Moore, forthcoming) and development (Williamson, 1991), has been widespread in the fields of adult education and community development since the Fogo Process of the late 1960s. Some of the terms used to describe popular video include popular communications, participatory communications, and participatory video.

According to Epskamp (1989), popular communications is a form of popular education which has an alternative view of communications that "presumes a horizontal, symmetrical and equal relationship between transmitter and receiver based on dialogue" (p. 29). Like popular education and popular theatre, this form of communication is based on the belief that in order for oppressed peoples to analyze their situation effectively and to mobilize themselves to action, they need the ability to communicate more effectively with one another and with external agents that impact upon them.

Karim (1988) uses the term popular communications to describe communication models that "promote interaction and participation by all members of society...[and] enable people to make informed decisions about community development" (p. 44). Although Karim describes the need to promote interaction and participation in development, he describes popular communications primarily as a support for the project work of extension and development workers. Karim's emphasis on intra-community communication differs from Epskamp's (1989) description of popular communication as two-way dialogue, because intra-community communication tends towards one-way persuasion and influence for the sake of development goals. In contrast, Epskamp believes "if dialogue does not underlie development co-operation at any level, it will be quite difficult to stimulate popular participation at a grass roots level" (p. 30).

Altafan (1991) uses the term participatory communications to describe an approach to video that is "based on people's creative potential...which creates the communications process according to each particular situation" (p. 312). In his opinion, "this alternative view of communication can improve dialogue amongst the poor people, external and local agents, due to its notion of communication as co-participation of subjects" (p. 312). Like Epskamp, Altafan believes that, through participatory communications, people can have a better perception of reality, which is fundamental to popular participation in development.

Taylor (1991) uses the term participatory video to describe video as a tool used in a women's economic empowerment process in Northeastern Thailand. Here rural and urban women incorporated video into a learning process which mirrored their reality and enhanced self-confidence. She also describes small format video as a participatory communications tool useful in assisting rural communities in their efforts to retain self-reliance.

Taylor's approach to video is similar to the original approach used by the NFB and MUN Extension on Fogo Island. It also focuses on the validation of peoples' knowledge and traditions with a goal of direct communication of their perspectives to people in power, and consciousness raising among themselves leading to social change. Williamson (1991) notes that although the Fogo Process concentrated on film and video, other media such as popular theatre or puppetry can be used in the same way. Williamson (in "Empowering Farmers Through Video", 1992) describes popular video as a process that "allows information to be transferred to decision-makers and officials to show them the effectiveness of their programs" (p. 14).

Development Support Communications and Information/ Technology Transfer Video

One of the most common uses of popular video is to improve communications, information sharing, and transfer of technology in the development context. In Chile it has been used for training members of farmers' co-operatives; in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Peru and Venezuela it has been used for agriculture development; in Egypt for literacy; and in Iran, Jamaica and the Philippines for issues of child care (Dubey & Bhanj, 1984). These are just a few of the many examples of video as development support described in the literature.

The role of video and other approaches to participatory communications in development is explained by Madhaven (1984), who states "development debates depend upon communication. Development communication is essential for development co-operation in any nation building program"
(p. 64). However, there is no agreement within the literature as to how video should be used in the development context. Again there is a continuum of perspectives ranging from authors and practitioners who describe their approach as a way of involving the poor in designing their own development strategies, to others who focus on video as a tool of transferring information and technology for externally imposed development projects.

Williamson (1991) is on one end of this continuum. He states that many development efforts "have floundered because the people who are supposedly to be developed have not been involved from the beginning" (p. 284). He emphasizes that video as a tool for encouraging participation in development must go beyond token involvement wherein experts from the outside retain control over the development process, and wherein major decisions have already been made before attempts to involve the poor have been initiated. The original work on Fogo Island is a good example of how film and (later) video helped local people to speak for themselves and to define their own development needs, problems and challenges. Ultimately the fisherpeople on Fogo improved their fisheries co-operative, a shipyard was begun on the island, and attempts were made to unify the denominational school system (Moore, forthcoming).

Stuart (in Protz, 1991) is somewhere in the middle of the continuum. She describes how "video can act to speed communication and understanding of new ideas and techniques in such areas as family planning, nutrition, health and sanitation, agriculture and various cooperative techniques" (p. 14). Although implicit in her comments is the need to improve communication between the poor and development workers and to involve the poor in development efforts, she differs from Williamson in that, she believes video can also be a way for external development agencies to implement new techniques developed from the outside.

Moving further along the continuum are those who see development support communication in terms of information and/or technology transfer. Madhaven (1984), for example, discusses the use of video in development as a tool for "motivating, organizing and disseminating information and knowledge about the real situation and conditions of their life" (p. 64). He does not clarify however whose information and knowledge the video process intends to disseminate nor who determines the real situation and conditions of the people. Another example of this approach is Doss's (in Dubey, 1984a) description of the Rural Unit for Health and Social Affairs (RUSHA) in Tamil Nadu India. He describes how RUHSA staff and volunteers are a major source of communication and information dissemination, how they circulate materials among the rural populations, and how they use video to "disseminate our message among rural people" (p. 74). He does not elaborate on the origins of these materials or messages.

At the extreme end of the development support communications continuum are documentaries on development issues (Protz, 1991). For the most part, these are academic and journalistic tapes which deal with a particular social issue such as lack of water or sanitation facilities in a community. The intent of such a video product is to make the general public, usually the urban middle class who are often the only ones able to see such tapes, aware of regional or national development problems, in the hope that they may be inspired to take some action on them. According to Protz the groups about whom these programmes are made rarely use or even get to view the final production, and the target audience is often disinterested in the issues presented.

Dialogue, Empowerment and Organizing for Action Video

Numerous authors make reference to video as a tool for dialogue, empowerment, and organizing for action. There are various descriptions about how to implement or facilitate such a process of social change; however, most involved with this approach agree that video can facilitate analysis, reflection and confidence among groups, and can ultimately lead participants to organize for action.

Snowden (in Quarry, 1984) describes how during the Fogo Process, film was used in the Port aux Choix region of Newfoundland to break down hostile barriers that existed among the communities of the area. Working through the parish priest and the Northern Regional Development Association, MUN Extension field staff helped the community develop films focusing on young people in an attempt to create a dialogue amongst the various communities and to "create interest in support of a local organization" (p. 43). Getting people to communicate with one another was the first step in a process that brought people together to discuss their problems and to look for solutions. This concept of connecting the communication process to local organizations and to institutions that could support ongoing development actions initiated through such a process was fundamental in Snowden's approach to film and video.

Although much of the work of the Fogo Process focused on helping people to resolve conflict among themselves, Dubey (1984b) describes how the Fogo Process allowed participants in communities "to communicate with peers elsewhere and with decision makers at the centres of power" (p. 11). The communication process that evolved helped to clarify attitudes, to focus local and government attention on key problems, and to facilitate consensus, decisions and action. The dialogue inspired by this process took many forms, ranging from chatting with a neighbour to involving government officials in the problems of rural communities.

Moore (forthcoming), in the context of the Fogo Process, summarizes the importance of dialogue for empowerment and action to occur. He states that by "allowing common people to use channels of communication freely, the inhibitions and restrictions built up in the past were dealt with. People spoke freely of their problems and acted freely in solving them" (p. 102). Moore suggests that free access to the channels of communication encourages people to freely solve their problems. However, others such as Snowden (in Quarry, 1984) are quick to point out that the real key in such processes are the field workers or animators who spend time getting to know the area and who attempt to ensure that people are comfortable with the film or video process. According to Snowden the field worker is crucial in helping people to speak freely about their problems. The technology will not work without the skilled interventions of the field worker. He stated "if it doesn't get introduced carefully and with lots of prior research it won't work" (p. 54).

Ghosh (in Protz, 1991) also explains how video can be a catalyst for empowerment and conscientization leading to action. According to Ghosh, video brings people closer together in the hope of successful action and this sense of collectivity often inspires people to take steps to change their situation.

Williamson (1991) describes a project in western Nepal in which video gave villagers a new freedom to communicate. This increased communication inspired them to take control over their lives. After promptly focusing in on the potential of video, the villagers began exploring the most important issues in their lives. Williamson (1991) elaborates:

They quickly created their own agenda, carrying their videotapes on legal advocacy for women, on traditional medicine, on simple systems for gathering and storing drinking water, and so on, and showing them on their battery-powered field monitors to friends and neighbours. (p. 283)

Protz (1991) describes how video can serve as an effective tool for dialogue and change, well into the life of any group or organization. Video can be used by groups to train their leaders; to highlight particular programmes in order to encourage more local participation in them; to share organizing strategies between groups; and to document, reveal, and give higher status to indigenous knowledge and practices so that they are better integrated with scientific or expert knowledge in the development process.
Self-Analysis and Personal Growth Video
Although many educators emphasize popular video's value in communications and dialogue, others recognize its value for self-analysis as a step in learning for personal growth. For example, in the Fogo Process the goals and objectives in the beginning were hazy and in fact evolved over time. Only as the process unfolded did the multiple goals of development, dialogue, empowerment, action and social change emerge. However, some of the original films or modules developed on Fogo clearly show that much of what was done in the beginning was self-analysis or self-awareness oriented. In essence its primary early goal was analytical and reflective in nature. This is exemplified by Williamson's (1991) description of the early films or modules:

They showed the children playing with homemade toys and games, a wedding, step dancing, a house party, storytelling and singing, as well. The joys and strengths of Fogo society, as well as the problems and fears of the people, were represented. The modules focused on ordinary people and personalities rather than on issues. What emerged in the totality of the modules was a holistic view of life on Fogo Island as perceived by the people themselves. (p. 272)

Taylor's (1991) description of the innovative use of video by Thai university faculty women is a good example of video as a tool for personal growth, empowerment, and change. Video assisted women to develop self awareness of the limitations they placed on themselves. They met daily to focus on the negative messages they received as children and the impact such images had on their self-image as women. According to Taylor "the video tapes were helpful in indicating objectively the growth in awareness and strength of individuals and in revealing the bonding taking place within the group" (p. 4). Overall this process helped the university women staff to develop visions for themselves, to change their beliefs, and to create new behaviours. When these women began to assist rural women to explore their beliefs, they were able to recall their own experiences with the process and to be more empathetic than they would have been otherwise. This self-analysis process was translated into empowerment and change. The women developed a needs assessment with all women on campus that eventually led to the creation of a women's centre.

Protz, (1991) describes an approach which focuses on the improvement of the individual for the purpose of organizational effectiveness and productivity. For example in the 1980s CARE-India (Protz, 1991) began using video as a training tool in which role-play was coupled with video in an attempt to improve the effectiveness of field staff facilitation at the village level. The aim was "to improve the facilitator's ability to listen, to encourage them to draw out less confident participants, and to keep the group-learning dynamics moving positively" (p. 82). Overall, the intent was to improve the facilitation skills and abilities of development field staff so that they could do their job better, not so that they could enhance their self-esteem or self-confidence.

Although several authors have recognized video's value as a self-analysis tool, Snowden (cited in Quarry, 1984) points out that the potential for personal growth stemming from this self-analysis video can be overrated. He explains how the perspective of Fogo resident Dan Roberts likely differed from that of the implementers of the Fogo Process:

I don't think that Dan Roberts on Fogo Island, for example, ever saw himself as an enhanced person because of the enormous wisdom that he imparted to people on Fogo Island, through the film material. That was just Dan Roberts. And just the way Dan Roberts thought and spoke. The film didn't change Dan Roberts or didn't make him say anything wiser or in another way, that was simply the way he was. (p. 48)

Framework Derived from the Literature

This chapter reviewed literature from a cross-section of authors and practitioners in the field of popular education, with a focus on the approaches of both popular theatre and popular video. From this review key points have emerged. The points presented are offered as a framework derived from the literature and were the philosophical basis of the popular education practice described in Chapter 3.

1. Education for social action and social reform is an orientation that has been prominent in adult education since its recognition as a separate field of study.

2. Popular education is an approach to adult education that emphasizes social change and social transformation. It uses the life experience of the participants as its starting point, is not politically neutral, encourages creative expression, and encourages collective or community action for change.

3. Popular theatre is a form of popular education and is a specific approach to or methodology within popular education. Although there is a wide spectrum of approaches or techniques used to implement this theatre most popular theatre dramatizes and analyses issues and events that are current to the culture or community in question.

4. Popular video uses small format video in a way that is participatory, liberating and empowering. Like popular theatre, popular video is a specific approach to or methodology within popular education. Like popular theatre, the intent of popular video is analysis leading to action, directed towards fundamental social change. There are numerous terms and definitions used to describe this approach to video use including popular communications, participatory communications, participatory video, and development support communications.

5. Some practitioners have concerns that the objectives of social change theatre and video can be co-opted and distorted by those working for institutions which wish to maintain the status quo.



This chapter examines three processes of popular education in rural Newfoundland, within the context of my work with MUN Extension. It examines an educational approach with popular video and popular theatre, employed in the western Avalon region between September 1989 and December 1991. The three processes are: (a) The Fishery and our Communities' Economy: Popular Video and Conference; (b) Cape Shore Community Video Week and Fisheries Survival Forum; and (c) the Branch Popular Theatre Process. For each process I describe the background context, the planning and implementation process, the content, and the outcomes.

The Fishery and Our Communities' Economy:

Popular Video and Conference

The first process took place in the St. Mary's Bay North region of Newfoundland over a six month period beginning in October 1989. The main focus was a one-day conference, held on a Saturday in March 1990 at a community hall in Mt. Carmel, on the crisis in the fishery. A significant part of the process was the production of a community video tape, shot and edited in the community during the days leading up to the conference. The video, used as a discussion catalyst during the event, was the outcome of a community planning, conscientization and action process. As a follow-up to the process, two representatives from the community were delegated to attend a province-wide conference on the fishery held in Gander in March, 1990.

Background Context

The St. Mary's Bay North Region of Newfoundland includes the communities from Admirals Beach to North Harbour. The economy of this region is almost entirely based on the inshore fishery of crab, salmon, caplin, and cod. In the fall of 1989, St. Mary's Bay North like many other regions of the province, was reeling from the collapse of the inshore fishery. Low catches of cod, a shrinking caplin quota, soft-shelled crab with little or no market value, and a record number of fishing families losing their boats to the Fisheries Loan Board were just a few of the signs pointing towards the economic collapse of this culturally rich part of rural Newfoundland.

Development Association members observed that local people involved in the fishery were beginning to turn against one another, that fishers and plant workers were beginning to blame plant owners and one another for their problems, and that plant owners were becoming more and more critical of the local people and their work ethic. From these observations the members raised the idea for a participatory, community-based, "fishery and our economy" type conference.

Discussions at an informal Development Association meeting in October of 1989, on the current crisis in the fishery and how it was impacting upon the communities of the area, were the starting point of the six-month process. The idea of hosting a conference on the current community crisis was presented to the Development Association's Board of Directors. It received unanimous support. The Board decided that a committee should be formed to plan such an event and I, as a MUN Extension field worker, was invited to participate as one of two outside resource people.

At this stage in the process, the Board decided to involve all sectors of the region's economy on the planning committee. The committee was made up of a core group of eight people and a flexible group of additional members who sat on the committee for shorter periods. Over the next four months, membership on the committee included fishers, plant workers, plant owners, local business people, youth, and community leaders, all brought on to the committee when the core group deemed it to be appropriate. Most of these committee members were women.

The make-up of the committee was changing constantly due to time restrictions of some members, and the fact that certain members participating on the committee did so for specific tasks only. It expended great energy on keeping itself together. Without a commitment to this process of maintaining itself, it is unlikely that the video process or the public event would have occurred.

The Planning Process

The committee usually met every three weeks, but because most members were volunteers this was often easier said than done. If fish were landed at the local fish plant on the day of a planned meeting, the representatives of plant workers and fishers would be unable to attend. As the committee met, it became apparent that most--if not all--the people on the committee had little confidence or experience in planning a community process of this nature. Many had first-hand experience attending formalized conferences of one form or another, but few had any experience with participatory forms of education. Therefore, in addition to the community economic objectives of this process, the committee also had to build local leadership and confidence among the members of the committee itself.

Over a series of 10 to 15 meetings the committee discussed possible themes for the event, overall objectives, possible formats, funding sources, intended target groups, facilitation methods, and follow-up plans. Approximately mid-point in the process, I introduced the concept of popular education to the committee. In particular, I explained MUN Extension's past and present work with popular communications, including popular video and popular theatre. Initially the committee seemed to feel that, because they were inexperienced with these approaches to learning, they did not want to experiment with them. I offered to bring video-taped examples of MUN Extension's past work to a future meeting so that the committee could see first-hand what I was referring to. They agreed and several weeks later we watched video-taped segments from processes that MUN Extension had initiated in Buchans (after the closing of the mine there) and in Fogo (with the Fogo Island Co-op on a community education project). The committee expressed concern that theatre was somehow inappropriate to the overall theme of economic crisis in the area. They were, however, excited about the possibility of using video to create awareness, deepen analysis, and to promote action. If MUN Extension was willing to spend the time needed for developing a video process with them, they were willing to give it a try.

The Implementation Process

The implementation process consisted of two main activities. These were the video production process and the public event or conference.
Popular video production. For the St. Mary's Bay Process, the participatory use of video had four distinct uses. It was a tool to help committee members increase their understanding of local economic issues and how other local people felt about these issues. Secondly it aimed to build the committee's confidence in public speaking and in facilitating discussions with their peers on important issues. Thirdly, the act of producing the video not only gave local people a voice into an important issue that effected them directly, but also had the effect of advertising the upcoming conference and its importance to the region. By involving local people in the preparation and planning of the video and by interviewing a large number of residents of the area, the tone was set that the conference was a common person's public event and not just another public meeting for local leaders where average people would have no opportunity to speak. Finally, the video tape was used at the public event as a catalyst or code for discussion and analysis.

The process of producing the video was controlled by the committee and the community, and not the technicians from MUN Extension. This was a notable development from the Fogo Process, because even though Fogo residents had input into the editing process they did not control the technology itself (Karim, 1988). A colleague from MUN Extension-St. John's was instrumental to the process and, among other things, ensured that the process remained user-controlled and did not get stymied by technical problems. My role was to facilitate a process that strengthened the committee, that encouraged discussion and analysis, and which encouraged a creative examination of proposed solutions to the area's problems.

The local members of the committee set up and conducted all interviews, operated all cameras, and made all editorial decisions. Local musicians were brought into the process when the committee members decided that the tape needed some background music. All interviews were conducted in the interviewee's setting, whether it was in a living room, a fish plant, or on the wharf. All people interviewed were invited to participate in the editing process in the basement of the Development Association building, where they could have editorial control over segments that included them. Finally, the video tape remained in the community as property of the Development Association.
The conference or public event. The format for the conference as a public event was structured so that as many community voices as possible could be heard. For this reason, experts were not invited to sit at a head table to speak nor to give their analysis about the crisis facing the area. Instead, experts were invited to sit in the audience and to participate in the small group discussions like everyone else. Representatives of each of the sectors involved in the planning committee were invited to make opening remarks from the perspectives of the fish plant worker, fisher, plant owner, community leader, and youth. The first part of the finished video tape (Problems In Our Economy: Various Perspectives) was used as a trigger for discussion in the morning of the conference. The video not only increased the number of voices heard, but also sparked discussion on the state of the crisis. After viewing the first part of the video, more local community members were invited from the audience to speak on the state of the crisis and on the need to work together toward solutions.

After these additional remarks, the first of two small- group discussions began. A total of five small groups were formed. Efforts were made to ensure that each group had a cross-section of people representing a variety of perspectives, opinions, and sectors in the fishing industry. Each of the small groups was facilitated by a committee member. A task sheet with facilitator's notes was prepared for each small group, and aided the facilitators to help these groups deal with the question: "As a [occupation or community involvement] how are you and your family affected by the state of the fishery?" The overall task for each of the small groups was to identify the major problems facing its members with regards to the topic and to priorize these problems on the basis of the ones that the community could do something about. One representative from each of the small groups was asked to report back to the larger group with the highlights of the group's discussions.

Questions and discussion followed each small-group report-back, and the committee recorded concerns, issues, and problems in order to look for items common to all groups. Following, there was a one hour lunch break. This break was important because it allowed time for further informal discussion on issues between community people who knew one another from a distance. After this break, the committee gave a brief summary of the morning's activities which was intended to re-focus participants on the afternoon's agenda. The large group then viewed the second part of the video (Solutions: What Can We Realistically Do to Improve or Save our Fishery Based Economy?). This part of the video was used to trigger small-group discussion on potential solutions to the crisis in the area. The participants divided into the same small groups as the morning session. After approximately 45 minutes of intense discussion, the five small groups reported back to the large group with a list of major issues they chose to focus on, and each group presented a variety of possible solutions for each issue. After all five groups had made their presentations, the planning committee led a plenary discussion on organizing for action. This was the least directed part of the day's events, because the committee could not anticipate where the participants might be by this time. During this part of the process a general discussion was facilitated where questions were posed such as: What now? Is this the end of the process? Can we work together? On what issues and how? Many perspectives were presented. The planning committee gathered the suggestions and ideas for action, and helped the participants to form a committee among themselves interested in pursuing ideas and strategies for action.
Follow-up activities. A people's committee was formed at the conference and was directed to work in collaboration with both the conference's planning committee and the St. Mary's Bay North Development Association on priority issues raised at the event. Membership on this committee included one plant owner, several fishers, several plant workers, and several community leaders. This committee met on several occasions and located funding to send two representatives to Gander in March, 1990 for the Cooperation for Survival: Planning for the 1990s conference. This is significant because this was the founding meeting of the Coalition for Fisheries Survival, an organization formed to address the crisis in the fishery on a province-wide basis. Discussions were also held within the planning committee about a potential follow-up process that would focus on issues particularly relevant to plant workers.

Content of the Video and Conference

The content for both the video tape and public conference was generated by local community members through the use of two questions: as an [occupation or community position], how are you and your family affected by the state of the fishery? What do you think could be done locally to improve the state of the local economy? These questions were determined after much thought, discussion and reflection. The committee felt that the choice and wording of these questions was crucial to the success of the video and local conference. The committee wanted both processes to focus primarily on local people's experiences, as opposed to provincial perspective on the state of the fishery. Therefore, the two questions focused on the personal and the local, rather than for example, asking for recommendations for government officials to carry out. These questions were based on the assumptions that people can tell government what they want and need but cannot rely on them for action, and that the community does indeed have the answers to its own problems. By keeping both the video and public event conference clearly focused on these two questions, people with differing levels of knowledge and information about specific topics were more easily able to participate.

Nevertheless, even with the narrow focus on local experience and action on the economy, numerous broader topics were discussed throughout the video and the public conference. Some of these topics included: foreign and domestic overfishing; licensing regulations; caplin, salmon and cod stocks; soft-shelled crab; illegal discarding; bad treatment by plant owners; the public's lack of respect for the fishery; local work ethic; make-work project syndrome; local poverty; illiteracy; frustration and anger; alcoholism; out-migration of youth; tourism potential; crafts development; and the role of government.
There were many short-term outcomes that emerged from this six month process. Over 40 people participated in the making of the community video. Over 30 people participated in the local conference "The Fishery and Our Communities' Economy". A committee was formed during this event that sent a delegation to the provincial founding conference for the Coalition for Fishery Survival. The video tape was subsequently used by a wide range of fisheries committees and volunteer groups in the area, and there are plans to make more copies of it for local use. The public conference received good coverage from CBC Radio on its popular Fisheries Broadcast program. The report presented the conference as an event with a difference where local people took on their own issues without the experts.

Cape Shore Community Video Week and

Fisheries Survival Forum

The second process took place in the Cape Shore area of the western Avalon region over a four-month period beginning in the summer of 1990. The primary events were a week of participatory video, a public forum focusing on the crisis in the fishery, and related follow-up activities. Throughout the week, numerous issues facing the people of the Cape Shore were captured on video by local people. They had complete control over the editing process. Tapes were then made available to all communities of the area in an attempt to stimulate dialogue, debate and action on these issues. The fisheries survival forum, a highlight of the week, was also video-taped and circulated throughout the region in an attempt to mobilize people to support the grassroots Coalition for Fishery Survival. As a follow-up to the process, my colleagues and I were invited back to the area to develop more participatory issue-based videos as part of the Cape Shore Community Video Series.

Background Context

The Cape Shore runs for about 40 miles from the east side of Placentia Bay to the southeast side of St. Mary's Bay. This area of Newfoundland is known primarily for its breathtaking scenery, its friendly, hard-working and independent people, and its culturally rich Irish dialect, song, stories, and dance. These have remained relatively unchanged since the early 1800s, although the paving of the road and the introduction of television in the 1960s have brought tremendous outside influences to the area over the past few decades. The economy of this area has been based on the fishery, although agriculture, especially sheep farming, has traditionally provided additional income for many families. In the summer of 1990, the Cape Shore, like many other rural Newfoundland areas, was desperately waiting for the migrating cod to come to shore. The fish were late and there was widespread fear that perhaps they might not come at all.

In the fall of 1989, as a MUN Extension field worker, I began to pursue ways through which I could become involved in issues facing this isolated and somewhat closed and private region of Newfoundland. I approached the Mayor of St. Brides to explore the possibility of working together in establishing participatory community television on the Cape Shore as a tool for discussing issues of economic and cultural survival. Little progress was made on the community television idea, but I became familiar with many of the key personalities of the area and established myself as a dependable person who could be called upon in times of need.

In the summer of 1990, I was approached by the Coordinator of the Cape Shore Development Association about developing a public fisheries survival event. Over a period of three months, with countless phone conversations and meetings, the Development Association and MUN Extension negotiated a process that would meet both organizations' needs. The Development Association primarily wanted an education event on the fishery. MUN Extension-myself and a Program Developer from St. John's who also participated in the St. Mary's Bay North process-wanted to seize this opportunity to push the idea of community television.
The Planning Process
Once an initial understanding was reached, the planning began. However, a major obstacle originated around the formation of the planning committee. The Development Association Coordinator preferred to have a committee that was controlled by the Development Association. This not only went against our agreement to form a broadly-based community steering committee, but also against MUN Extension's philosophy of involving the community in its work. This problem was compounded by the fact that two of the essential members for this committee-the Mayor of St. Brides through whom the idea of community television had been developed, and the Development Association Coordinator through whom the fishery survival event had been initiated-disliked one another. They were from the two most powerful families in the community, and were known to have a long and colourful history of competition and rivalry. Primarily because I insisted, a committee of five was formed which included the Mayor, the Coordinator, the head of the local fisheries committee, the Program Developer from MUN Extension-St. John's and myself.

Over a period of 6 weeks the committee designed a plan that was intended to meet a variety of needs and to involve many community people. The plan allowed the community to celebrate what they liked about themselves, to analyze their situation, and to plan for community change.

The committee agreed that two key components for this process were to be the Cape Shore Fisheries Survival Forum and the Cape Shore Community Video Week. Although technical and financial reasons prevented the committee from getting community television hooked up in time for the educational process, it was anticipated that the video week would generate programming for future use on the community channel. The video week would also involve people in exploring local issues and celebrating local culture. It was planned to run in October and culminate on the final day with the survival forum. All parties clearly wanted these activities to be part of an ongoing process that would require commitment and follow-up on the part of all members. Initial meetings were tense and difficult. Small decisions would erupt into major controversies, and committee members began to avoid the meetings. Eventually they stopped meeting as a group. Local members chose to deal individually and informally with the MUN Extension field staff. The project ended up in our hands with minimal support from committee members, although by this time much of the implementation plan had been developed. Tensions were exacerbated when on the eve of the video week, the Mayor of St. Brides mailed an open letter to every household on the Cape Shore severely criticizing the Development Association Coordinator's overall work record.

Any sense of cooperation among the committee members vanished. The third local member of the committee sided with the Mayor and the Development Association Coordinator pulled out all support for the process he helped design, on the basis that he could not work with the other two members. To complicate matters further, a Canadian Union of Public Employees strike at Memorial University pulled the Program Developer out of the community. At this stage, flyers advertising both projects were out and plane tickets for the Coalition for Fisheries Survival panel guests had been purchased. The local high school had been turned into an editing/taping suite and 25 keen and interested high school students had been recruited and oriented to the overall video process. After consulting with my immediate supervisor at MUN Extension, who had his own experiences of the difficulties of working on the Cape Shore, I decided to go ahead with the process in spite of the setbacks.
The Implementation Process
The implementation process comprised three interrelated activities. These were the community video week, the fisheries survival forum, and follow-up activities.
The community video week. The implementation process began approximately three weeks before the video week. At this time, students from Grades 10-12 were given an option to attend a meeting at which I was to introduce the concept of participatory, popular video and to recruit interested persons for the process. Over 35 students attended representing all of the 10 communities on the Cape Shore. Interest was high and ideas were bountiful at this meeting. Students were asked to break up into community groups and to brainstorm topics, issues, and problems facing their community that could be addressed in the video process. As well, they were asked to list unique physical and cultural aspects of their community and to create a list of performers, singers, musicians, story tellers, dancers and any one else known locally for their knowledge or opinion on a particular aspect or topic of the Cape Shore. Finally, students were requested to begin arranging interviews and performances in each of their respective communities, so that when the video week crew arrived, much needed ground work would have been completed.

On October 1st, the video week began with a briefing session attended by about 25 students. This was followed by a three-hour after school workshop where the basics of using video equipment, interviewing, and of setting up for panel discussions were addressed. The students and I developed a schedule intended to meet each community's needs. The schedule took into account the relative size of each community and the time required for events such as stories and pre-arranged interviews. The students were organized into 10 community crews of between 2 and 10 students. Each crew was in charge of all aspects of shooting in their community. In the editing process they had editorial rights over their community video-segment.

Over the week the student video crews travelled up and down the Cape Shore conducting interviews; capturing people at work and at play; and recording recitations, songs, dances, and the spectacular scenery of the area. Each evening at the high school the video crew would preview their footage and begin the process of determining what they would like to keep for the editing process. As well, on most evenings the crew for the following day would be present to practice using the equipment, to role play interviewing situations, and to plan their route.

A simple studio-consisting of two cameras, lights, and a microphone-was set up in the school so that interviews and performances that could not be taped in an individual's home could be done there at night. This studio was moved to the community of Branch at one point during the week, so that there would be a base for the video process conducted there on that day. A highlight of the week was the video taping of the folk festival held at the local lounge. This event brought people together from all over the Cape Shore, for an evening of song, dance and Irish culture. A studio with audio and video mixers was set up at this event so that the quality of the final video product would be enhanced. The final event of the week was the video taping of the fisheries survival forum held at the local high school.
The fisheries survival forum. Although the committee for the video week and the survival forum fell apart early in the implementation stages, individual committee members remained involved in the planning stages for the fisheries forum. With the help of the head of the fisheries committee, issues to be addressed at the forum were discussed, documented, and built into the content of the forum. Committee members were helpful in choosing the date and time of the event so that those involved in the fishing industry could attend it. As well, they selected and invited the five forum panel members. Finally, a decision to assist with the cost of the forum through local fundraising originated with this committee.

The fisheries survival forum was co-sponsored by MUN Extension and the Coalition for Fisheries Survival. Although there was to be local participation on the panel, the committee members felt that by not mentioning local groups as sponsors, those feuding with these groups would have little reason to boycott the event. Its primary goal was to encourage analysis and dialogue as a first step to finding common ground on the issues. It was hoped this would lead people to take action on the crisis facing them.

The forum panel brought together well known Newfoundlanders active in both the fishing industry, and the struggle to save it. Present on the panel were: Pat Cabot, Vice President of the Coalition for Fisheries Survival; Andy Careen, President of the Cape Shore Area Development Association and Mayor of Point Lance; Ray Malloy, Eastern Director for the Newfoundland and Labrador Rural Development Council; Max Short, Director of Inshore Fishermen's Union- FFAW; and Cabot Martin, President of the Newfoundland Inshore Fisheries Association and well known columnist with the Sunday Express. In my capacity as field worker with MUN Extension, I was moderator for the event.

The forum began with opening remarks by the moderator about the goals and agenda for the afternoon's activities. This was followed by several fisheries related songs performed by well known Newfoundland songwriter Jim Payne. After this, each member of the panel had approximately five minutes to speak on the issues and problems facing the fishing industry and rural communities from their point of view. Panellists were asked to focus on some of the broad issues related to the crisis and to look for common ground between one another in the hope that they could come up with agreement on potential solutions.

After the panel presentations, audience members were encouraged to comment, question, challenge and debate the issues, in a way that would help the large group in its search for common solutions to their problems. The discussion and debate was spirited and lasted well over an hour. Topics ranged from re-activating the seal hunt to taking up arms against the foreign draggers. As moderator, I attempted to keep the debate positive and to nudge the panellists into a discussion about action that individuals and communities could take. The forum ended with another well-known local musician Ernestine Power singing an original song lamenting the death of the Newfoundland inshore fishery. Cabot Martin (1990) in his fisheries column in the Sunday Express the following week summed up the spirit of the event:

The first (question) concerned Greenpeace. I ventured that they should be at least given a chance to show that they were sincere about trying to protect fish stocks. A voice from the other end of the panel (and the spectrum) advocated they be tarred and feathered. The audience was split. Other topics followed: the impact of small draggers, Ottawa's real intentions in changing self-funded fishermen's unemployment insurance, whether the inshore should take some sort of direct actions to stop trawlers on the spawning grounds this winter, the need for local groups to obtain independent scientific advice, the link between global environmental concerns and the preservation of local fish stocks were aired. This was real discussion, not, as too often happens, a mere recitation of complaints (p. 8).

Follow-up activities. The first follow-up initiative was a video editing weekend on the Cape Shore in February 1991. This weekend brought together many of the youth involved in the initial video week for a weekend of participatory editing in the local high school. Here the participants as a group decided upon the overall flow, tone, pace and length of the video, and made all background music and titling decisions. Members from each community were responsible for all editing decisions on the footage they shot in their own community.
At this event, discussions began about how the completed videos would be circulated. Because community television had not yet been established on the Cape Shore due to technical difficulties, there seemed to be no local means by which the videos could be made accessible to the people. Eventually the students approached the Cape Shore Regional Library, which took on the responsibility for circulating copies of these tapes. Posters advertising the tapes were made and put up along the Cape Shore.

Since the videos were made available, they have been in constant demand. They appear to be an effective way of stimulating discussion and debate among community people especially if communities are spread over a wide geographical area. Plans are underway to place more copies of the videos in the library and to add new video productions to the series, now known as the Cape Shore Community Video Series.

Although this process of engaging the people of the Cape Shore in popular education activities got off to a rough start, the results and feedback impressed the Development Association. They invited me and my now ex-MUN Extension colleagues back in July 1991 for five weeks of participatory video work. During this period, three new video tapes were produced and added to the library.

Content of the Video and Forum

All of the content decisions for the popular video process were made by the participants, although as facilitator I offered suggestions. In the process of helping participants prepare for interviews, I challenged them to construct their questions to allow for maximum information-sharing, issues analysis, and community-action related discussion. Some of the topics covered through the video process were: (a) the future or survival of the Cape Shore, (b) the importance of the fishery, (c) the effects of foreign overfishing, (d) the unemployment insurance or make-work syndrome, (e) the future for youth on the Shore,
(f) the effect of Hibernia on the province, (g) the effect of Come By Chance bound oil tankers on local sea bird populations, (h) road accidents related to roaming sheep and what should be done the problem, (i) the effects of all terrain vehicles on the boglands of the area, (j) the lifestyle of original Irish settlers, (k) the future of tourism on the Shore, and (l) the work ethic of the people.

The content for the survival forum was considerably more defined and focused. While the video process was free-wheeling and open-ended, the forum set out to encourage dialogue and debate on issues raised by the chosen panellists. The overall intent of this event was to introduce the Coalition for Fisheries Survival as an organization in which anyone and everyone could participate, and to encourage debate, dialogue and action on issues that were of common concern to rural communities in the province. Outcomes

Throughout this popular education process, enthusiasm of the local people was high. As a result of this process, several local people have purchased their own video equipment and are continuing to capture events and issues on the Cape Shore. The video tapes of the Cape Shore Community Video Series are in constant use and have been widely viewed over a large geographical area through the use of home video recorders. The forum helped to create a heightened analysis of the crisis in the fishery, brought new information into the community, and encouraged local interest in supporting the Coalition.

Branch Popular Theatre Process

The third process in Branch, St. Mary's Bay, began in the fall of 1990 and ended in December 1991. The main focus of this process was the development of a series of analytical and timely skits, or dialogues as they are known locally, which were presented to the community at a traditional community concert in December 1991. The overall theme of the concert was the past, present, and future of Branch. Steps were taken throughout the process to encourage post-performance community action related to the issues raised in the dialogues. Most of this planned follow-up did not materialize due primarily to the elimination of MUN Extension and the corresponding loss of resources to the community.

Background Context

Branch is a 300-year old fishing and farming community of approximately 450 people located at the far southeast end of the Cape Shore. In the fall of 1990, the community was experiencing problems similar to all other communities in the area. In addition to the lack of fish available to inshore fishers, the closure of the fish plant heightened awareness among residents that Branch was a dying community. During the Cape Shore community video week, interviews about Branch revealed an acute cynicism regarding the community's ability to survive this economic crisis. Many interviewed clearly stated there was no future for Branch and that little could be done about it. By some accounts, this culturally rich community, known nationally and internationally for its relatively untouched Irish culture and heritage, would disappear over the next decade.

It was in this context that I engaged the people of Branch in a process of popular theatre that focused on awareness, analysis, and action on Branch's struggle for survival. Popular theatre was chosen as the educational medium because among the people of the Cape Shore, Branch was known to be the community with the richest musical and performing history.

The process began when I approached Branch's key people in the community's cultural events and asked them if they would be interested in adapting issues related theatre to one of their more traditional cultural art forms, the community concert.

The Planning Process

Although the initial contacts for the Branch popular theatre process were made in the fall of 1990, the actual process of creating theatre did not begin until November 1991. Throughout this period the initial popular theatre idea was developed, moulded and re-shaped by key contacts in Branch, through my facilitation. These contacts eventually became known as the concert planning group.

In January 1991, the first part of the popular theatre research phase was initiated, when the concert planning group developed and circulated a short questionnaire within the community to generate themes for the theatre. The planning group was describing the theatre as a series of dialogues about the fishery, which would be later performed in Branch at a community concert.

In March 1991, I withdrew temporarily from the theatre process when MUN Extension was eliminated by Memorial University of Newfoundland. After consulting with the concert planning group, we agreed to put the popular theatre process on hold until I could find another means of financially supporting my visits to Branch.

In September 1991, the process was re-activated when the concert planning group met in Branch to establish a concert date and to begin the task of pulling together a cast of musicians, singers, and actors for the event. Assembling the cast was difficult and time-consuming. Although beyond the scope of this study, it appears that the negative mood prevailing in the community, related to the dire condition of the fishery, affected the motivation of those usually interested in participating in Branch concerts.

When the actual dialogue practices began in early November, the individuals who attended practices varied from week to week. This made the process of creating theatre extremely difficult as the cast often was required to start the process over every time a new participant joined the cast. Several times the planning group discussed cancelling the concert due to unpredictable and irregular cast attendance. However each time a cast member dropped out or failed to show, a replacement was found. Many of these new cast members were young people. These youth brought new perspectives and fresh energy to the dialogues and process. Some adults however, believing that the addition of youth to the cast broke a Branch tradition of all-adult casts, dropped out of the concert process at the last minute. Even with these problems, the cast grew to include 14 community members.

The Implementation Process

The implementation process consisted of three main activities. These were the creation of the popular theatre or dialogues, the organization of the community concert, and follow-up activities.
The dialogues. Dialogues have always been a part of Branch community concerts. In the past they addressed topics of interest to the community and often stirred up debate and discussion among local people. However they did not set out specifically to mobilize people to action on a community crisis. In more recent times dialogues at Branch concerts seem to have lost some of their issue and communication focus and have in fact parodied mainstream television shows.

Although the people of Branch generally take their concerts seriously, there is little attention given to the theatrical quality of dialogues. Whereas the music and songs of a concert usually are performed to perfection, the dialogues are often put together at the last minute. Actors often take their lines on stage with them and are encouraged to improvise. This lack of attention to theatrical quality does not appear to affect the actors nor the audience's enjoyment of this local theatre.

In this context, I facilitated the Branch concert cast in the production of a series of connected, thematic and issues-related dialogues. From the beginning, it was understood that my role was to help adapt the traditional community concert so that the crisis facing Branch could be explored through the use of local cultural forms and traditions. We agreed, for example, that since many traditional dialogues were humorous and fun, at least some of our dialogues would retain these qualities. In some ways, our commitment to maintaining features of traditional dialogues limited our theatrical options, and (sometimes) new ideas were eliminated because they were not 'the way we normally do dialogues'.

The process of creating the dialogues began with the brainstorming of images, thoughts, sounds and stories of Branch's past, and present. The questionnaires that were distributed to the community were read, discussed, and analyzed. The best ideas were noted. Although the questionnaire initially focused only on Branch's fishery, the cast ultimately decided to be more open ended about the dialogues and to allow other topics to be presented. Over a period of seven meetings we created a framework for six dialogues designed to examine the past, present and future of Branch. We eventually agreed upon the basic themes for the dialogues and began experimenting with various settings and characters for each. When the basic structure and themes were established, individuals were asked to draft scripts for each dialogue. All scripts were discussed and revised. The overall themes for the dialogues were the unity and prosperity of Branch in the past (1978), the frustration and anxiety of Branch in the present (1991), a realistic short-term future scenario for Branch in 1992, and a long-term worst case scenario for the year 2001. All were in easily recognizable settings.

The dialogues were interspaced throughout the concert between songs and recitations, a form of Newfoundland folk poetry, as in the past. However, unlike past concerts, they were introduced by a traditional Newfoundland mummer. The mummer, a loved and familiar character in Newfoundland folklore who appears primarily at Christmas time (Brookes, 1988), was used in this situation because it was felt that the dialogues needed to be clearly set in their appropriate time and context. Some members of the cast were very concerned that the dialogues, which were attempting to dramatize highly sensitive issues, might not be understood clearly by all members of the audience and that individual cast members could be publicly attacked or ostracized for saying bad things about the community. For example, some felt that a future's dialogue showing a man boarding up his house, if misinterpreted as a present-day dialogue, could cause bad feelings between the cast and other community members as the audience may interpret it as a negative comment on families preparing to leave. The cast felt that clear introductions to the dialogues could ensure that the audience understood the context and intent of each dialogue. The mummer was the ideal character to make these introductions because her presence would relax the audience and because mummers have always been able to say and do things that regular people cannot get away with.
The concert. In order to build popular theatre upon the local tradition of dialogues, it was necessary also to assist with the development of a community concert as it is the mechanism through which dialogues traditionally have been presented. Although dialogues have usually been a component of Branch concerts, people come primarily to hear their favourite music or song which is by and about the people of the Cape Shore. A concert could occur without dialogues but dialogues could not occur without a concert.
The December 14th concert in Branch was a variation on a traditional form. Although the cast insisted on beginning the concert with the traditional Address of Welcome and Opening Chorus, they agreed to choose songs that reflected the past, present, and future themes of the community that were represented in the dialogues. Happy songs were scheduled to be performed around the dialogues which were about the good times of Branch and sadder more serious songs were performed around the present-day dialogues reflecting the present tough economic times. Optimistic songs were performed with the future oriented dialogues. The overall concert theme was reflected in the event's title, Branch: Past, Present, Future?

The mummer introduced the dialogues with recitations, about Branch, created specifically for the concert. The cast took elaborate steps to ensure that the audience did not guess who the mummer was. This followed the mummering tradition of Newfoundland where the residents of any house into which the mummer enters, must attempt to guess the identity of the disguised mummer. The mummer was therefore brought into the hall only minutes before the concert was to begin. The presence of the mummer brought a sense of traditional Christmas magic to the concert hall.

My involvement with the overall concert planning group proved to be a key factor in the development and presentation of the issues-related dialogues. After all, if there was no concert, there would have been no cast to develop the dialogues, and no opportunity to present them to the people of Branch.
Follow-up activities. From the beginning of this popular theatre project, the committee was determined to ensure that there would be a follow-up component built into the process. Initially, the idea was to develop theatre based on the fishery, and to link the community of Branch through this theatre with the Coalition for Fisheries Survival. Theatre would be used as a catalyst for generating interest in Branch regarding the survival of rural Newfoundland and the inshore fishery. However, with the demise of both MUN Extension and the Coalition for Fisheries Survival in the spring of 1991 the plan was revised.

After much discussion, the concert committee and cast developed a new follow-up plan linking interested people of Branch with groups such as the Extension Community Development Co-operative and the Avalon West Community Futures Committee. The overall goal was to explore further community action strategies related to economic development. Follow-up initiatives also were intended to address ways in which the people of Branch could work together on improving the overall quality of life in the community.

Many ideas for improving both the economic situation and the quality of life in Branch were raised during the preparation of the dialogues. The cast decided to share these ideas with the public by attaching a short questionnaire to the concert program with the goal of encouraging participation and action. These ideas included the formation of a Branch survival committee to take a leading role in the pursuit of economic initiatives for the community, and a Branch Come Home Year committee, to improve the spirit and morale of the residents through a celebration of their history.

The dialogues oriented to the future of Branch also presented ideas for follow-up. Dialogue #5, set in the year 2001, showed a bleak and disastrous ending to Branch and carried a strong message of the need to work together as a community. Dialogue #6 showed Branch one year from the concert date and portrayed a traditional Branch house party where people were excitedly chatting about Come Home Year and how far the plans for it had come in just a year. It also carried the message of the need to start small and to work together on initiatives such as getting the fish plant open.

Content of the Dialogues and Mummering

Improvisation during both practices and the live performance was encouraged, therefore the content for the dialogues was never twice the same.

The first dialogue was set in the summer of 1978 at the fish plant trimming table during the midnight shift. The themes were unity, happiness, and community pride. The script depicted plant workers having fun and talking playfully about how glad they were to be receiving a regular paycheque. It reflected the more prosperous days of Branch when many people were employed at the plant.

The second dialogue, also set in the summer of 1978, depicted plant workers drinking and dancing at the local pub while on their break from the shift. The themes were similar to those of the preceding scene and reflected the abundance of work and disposable income of the community.

The first present-dialogue was set in the fall of 1991, outside at night, at the local senior citizen meeting place. The themes were worry, frustration and anger. It attempted to reflect the current economic state and mood of Branch. The dialogue depicted four adults discussing the community's problems and wrestling with the questions of: what went wrong? and who is responsible? By providing analysis on Branch's problems, this dialogue set the stage for the next dialogue which dealt with options for action.

Dialogue #4 was set in the fall of 1991 at the local video arcade upon the request of the youth members of the cast. They felt strongly that one dialogue should have a theme devoted to the major decision facing all youth of the community-whether to stay in Branch after high school, or to leave for greener pastures. It depicted two groups of high school aged youth arguing as to whether or not there was a future for Branch. One group advocated getting out of Branch as soon as possible as it no longer had anything to offer. The other group insisted that working together to improve the community was the only alternative. Other middle-of-the-road positions were also raised so that by the end of the scene, a complete spectrum of attitudes and opinions regarding how to respond to Branch's current crisis were presented to the audience.

The first future-dialogue was set in the year 2001 and showed a tired old man boarding up the windows of his house under the jarring effects of a strobe light. A young women walked across the stage, saw what the old man was doing, and began pleading with him to reconsider his decision to leave Branch. He did not change his mind and stated that if the community had pulled together in the early 1990s, that it may have made a difference. The audience was silent during this dialogue. In essence it was a worst case scenario that showed how Branch deteriorated over ten years to a community of five families. The message was with unity we have a chance, with division we die.

The final dialogue presented a realistic alternative to the worst case scenario of Dialogue #5. The scene depicted a happy and traditional Branch Christmas party in the year 1992 and showed people talking about changes that had occurred in Branch over the past year. Although it advocated a return to the traditional values and ways of Branch, it did not show an unrealistic or magical 'turn around' for the community.

The mummer's recitation lines were written in such a way as to support the themes and content of the dialogues. The mummers lines that introduced one dialogue announced that the dialogue would take a daring look into the future. The lines that introduced the final dialogue, suggested that the mummer herself did not like the 2001 vision and preferred the one the audience was about to see. Overall, the mummer acted as a link between the dialogues, and reinforced or clarified each of their contexts.


With regard to short-term outcomes, 15-20 individuals experienced a process that improved their understanding and analysis of the problems facing Branch. The experience most certainly added to their awareness of potential solutions to them. Approximately 120 people attended the concert and saw, perhaps for the first time, a clear picture of Branch's struggle. Although few completed the questionnaire on the concert program, they learned that efforts were underway in Branch to involve the residents in dialogue and action related to its future. The video tape of the concert, available to residents of the community through the library, helped to keep this dialogue and debate alive.

In terms of long-term outcomes, several informal meetings have been held with the staff of the Avalon West Community Futures Committee regarding the possibility of economic follow-up activities in Branch including the development of a summer tourist dinner theatre. However, due to a shortage of organizing resources, neither the members of the concert planning group nor the staff of the Extension Community Development Co-op have pursued these ideas.

One expression of community frustration which may or may not be an outcome of the process, occurred shortly after the concert. Members of the concert cast participated in a local action related to the right of nearby Point Lance residents to dock boats at the Branch wharf. Fishers of Point Lance were using the facilities in Branch, but not selling their fish catch to the Branch fish plant operator, choosing instead to sell it to a rival plant owner in St. Mary's Bay for a slightly higher price. This meant that the Branch plant did not have enough product to stay open and that valuable local jobs were being lost. Several skirmishes were reported on the provincial television news, one of which resulted in the smashing of boat windows and a gear shed being thrown into the ocean. Although beyond the scope of this study, I continue to wonder why this community friction was unleashed at this point in time, and whether or not the concert dialogues which pushed for unity and action to save the community, played any role in it.



The previous chapter documents my use of popular education methodology in rural Newfoundland to promote popular participation in fundamental social change. Based on the literature and framework outlined in Chapter 2, this chapter examines the effectiveness and appropriateness of this methodology within the context of social transformation in rural Newfoundland. There are three main sections in this chapter: a discussion of the organizational approach used, an analysis of the various learning strategies employed, and an analysis of the outcomes.

Overall Organizational Approach

My organizational approach was based on six principles. These were: (a) the use of an adult education philosophy that promotes social change, (b) institutional support of a community development process which supports the need for field worker autonomy, (c) promoting the role of community committees, (d) working with and through local structures, (e) equalizing the role of experts with that of community participants, and (f) focusing on processes rather than events.

My Educational Philosophy

My educational philosophy developed from the social change literature on adult education. I had a serious commitment to encouraging participation in social change and ensured that the interests of the community came first. The approach, which allowed for a lot of flexibility and creativity, gained respect and credibility as local people understood they had control over the direction of the process and activities.

For example, when the planning committee for the St. Mary's Bay conference decided to postpone the event on two occasions due to local dart tournaments, they did so with the knowledge that they were in control of the process. They understood and appreciated that MUN Extension would not overrule their decision or withdraw university resources. This understanding seemed to give them confidence and a sense of empowerment. When one organization on the Cape Shore attempted to take over the video week process, my philosophical commitment to broad community participation and control ensured that this did not occur. Although this caused problems for the committee, the decision was widely respected among residents not directly involved in the organization of the process. This commitment to local control and flexibility follows in the tradition of practitioners such as Alinsky (1971), Arnold et al. (1991), Freire (1985), and Horton (in Adams, 1975).

The philosophical approach of MUN Extension was based upon a wide range of philosophical orientations within the field of adult education including the social-reformist tradition. However, the approach I used differs significantly from most MUN Extension work because of its primary emphasis on participation in social change. In essence the MUN Extension approach operated in the context of a government-funded university promoting social responsibility (Buttedahl, 1985) or social stability (Vio Grossi, 1981) and not social change (Arnold et al., 1991). My departure from this was generally acceptable in the MUN Extension context because although field staff were expected to follow MUN Extension's overall mission-that of teaching enabling skills in whichever learning modes are most fitting (Harris, 1992)-different employees were expected and encouraged to bring their own tools, techniques, experiences, attitudes and philosophical orientations to MUN Extension. There were exceptions but, in many ways, MUN Extension's approach was similar to Martwanna and Chamala's (1991) description of the basic philosophy of rural development, which was to help "rural people to help themselves in coping with problems, challenges and new opportunities open to them" (p. 45). Unlike popular education's goal of creating an alternative society (Cadena, 1984), MUN Extension's approach attempted to assist individuals and communities to develop the skills needed to both cope with problems and to work for the overall betterment of the community within the existing structures of society.

My social change approach to adult education and community development sought to promote participation "in development aimed at action which has as its goal to change reality" (Epskamp, 1989, p. 93). Like many other popular educators (Buttedahl, 1985; Cadena, 1984; Freire, 1985; Vio Grossi, 1981), and including some but not all staff at MUN Extension, my approach to adult education aimed to change not simply the participants' knowledge, skills, and attitudes but also their participation in actions to transform their community. Although the traditional approach of MUN Extension was successful over the years and well received in communities around the province, as a new field worker in 1989, I felt that its approach to adult education and community development was falling short of what was truly needed by rural Newfoundland communities in crisis in the 1990s.

Overall, the social change approach I employed throughout the three processes was effective in mobilizing rural Newfoundlanders to participate in activities and actions related to locally-based community change. Many community people from a wide range of sectors participated in consciousness raising and dialogue-building events. In St. Mary's Bay and the Cape Shore, residents took steps to bring about local participation in the fishery crisis, while in Branch a small group of people attempted to lay the groundwork for community action related to Branch's survival. All processes acted as starting points for future community-based social change actions.
MUN Extension Support for Field Worker Autonomy
As a field worker at MUN Extension I was given considerable autonomy and latitude. This freedom and independence was crucial to my grass-roots approach and enabled me to attempt the difficult, time consuming, and often unpredictable task of assisting communities, groups and individuals to mobilize themselves for development. For example when the Branch concert group decided to broaden the overall theatre theme, it was not only possible but encouraged. When the process took longer than expected to complete due to unpredictable circumstances, the process was not completely aborted. Snowden's (1975) description of MUN Extension field workers clearly reflects these examples:

They are like no other field workers in the province for, unlike all others, they do not work to time-framed objectives imposed externally, nor in programs with evident conclusions. Rather, they work out from within, shaping their actions and programs to the changes that are taking place where they are and to the shifting educational needs and desires of rural people. (p. 23)

Snowden believed that decisions imposed from the outside could interfere with, disrupt and prevent participation in social change. He stressed the need for community people to develop their own processes of communication and to find solutions to their problems with outsiders acting primarily as resource people. Although I too believed that field workers should shape their actions according to the desires and needs of community people, there were instances where I knowingly brought my personal interests or agendas into the educational process. In the Cape Shore process for example, my colleagues and I were interested in introducing community television to the area and brought this idea to the process negotiations. However, my approach was to be upfront with community people about such interests and to pursue them only if and when the committee involved agreed to include them as part of the educational process.

Field workers for MUN Extension were required to live within the communities in which they worked and operated out of field offices where they were their own bosses. Although they usually had administrative support in the form of a part-time secretary, and although they worked with colleagues on specific projects, they often would work for days or weeks without university contact. Being visible in the community on an ongoing basis forced field workers to be accountable and responsible to the community and its leaders, groups and residents. Thus, although field workers had great licence to work in their own way as far as the institution was concerned, they usually were forced to be culturally sensitive, humble, and honest with community people who often knew more about them, the region, its community development needs, and its solutions than many field workers cared to admit. In essence, the field workers of MUN Extension had a lot of freedom, but they also had the community watching, observing and evaluating their every move.
or example, during the Cape Shore process, I heard many comments related to the ongoing conflict between members of the planning committee that I had assumed was internal committee business. I overheard community members discussing the pros and cons of my approach, my ability to fit in on the Cape Shore and even the way I talked. Residents seemed to know which student I drove home last, what time of night it was, and how many beer I had at the local club. In essence I was in a fish bowl where it would have been dangerous to break local norms or to attempt to hide the truth from local people. This is similar to the situation Horton noted in an interview with Adams (1975), that field workers must respect and learn from the community in a spirit of integrity as "most people, poor or rich, quickly detect sham" (p. 47).

The autonomy given to me as a field worker was imperative for the success of the popular education processes. It allowed me to work with a cross-section of the community at the community's pace, and ensured that learning and analysis remained learner or community- controlled. In addition, this freedom, autonomy and encouragement to explore and experiment with various community development strategies and approaches, allowed for great creativity and innovation for all participants at the community level.

Role of Community Committees and Local Leaders

Although there often was conflict between members, community committees were crucial to the success of all three processes. They ensured that control over the educational processes remained in the communities' hands. They also served as official sanctioning bodies, were instrumental in locating local human and material resources, and served to advertise the community activities planned in the region. It would have been difficult to gain community support for these processes without the work of such local committees.

Efforts to establish local committees were based on the principle that like an individual in any adult learning process, a community also must have an opportunity to assess and identify its starting point and needs as a prerequisite to designing objectives for a community development learning strategy (Ramirez, 1990). In all three processes, community representatives participated in self-diagnosis with the aim of designing a program that would meet community needs. As well, by participating in such committee work, committee members developed transferable skills related to leadership, planning, organization and the media. The development of these skills is similar to Ramirez's suggestion that community education should offer "an opportunity for the community to learn a process which could help as a tool for dealing with other problems" (p. 133).

For example, the Cape Shore committee consumed enormous amounts of energy and was a source of friction among community members. In many ways, this friction was unavoidable and necessary because the committee experience mirrored the larger community's experience. This is similar to Brand's (1986) suggestion that "issues [had] to be dealt with in the microcosm before [they] could be transferred to the macrocosm" (p. 283). In this case, committee members became less motivated and interested in the committee's work as time went on. This had the effect of putting me in a position of having to make most of the decisions concerning the implementation of the process. This result may have had more to do with the particular individuals on the committee than with the nature of the committee's work.

Although I attempted to get active and concerned community members on all three committees, membership selection was basically beyond my control. One strategy for improving the overall effectiveness of such committees is to target more informal leaders in the community as opposed to the often overworked formal leadership which was the case in Branch. In the Cape Shore process, rife with committee problems, the committee was comprised exclusively of formal community leaders who seemed to have grudges to bear and egos to protect. A second strategy may be to get more women on such committees as the committees dominated by men seem to have more conflict and power issues to deal with. For example, in the St. Mary's Bay Process where two-thirds of the committee were women, few internal committee problems were experienced. A third strategy may be to build the committee gradually as its membership needs become clearer over time, which was another successful strategy of the St. Mary's Bay committee.

The importance of building the capacity of local committees and local leadership is a common theme in adult education literature. It has been examined and described by several adult education authors including Arnold et al. (1991), Freire (1985), and Hope and Timmel (1984). It is also a cornerstone of the social change process.

Working With and Through Local Structures

All processes strove to make links with local organizations. In St. Mary's Bay, the organizing committee, in cooperation with the Development Association, the local fisheries committee, local community councils, and members of other community organizations, brought key individuals and leaders together in a spirit of collectivity to work on a serious problem affecting the area. During the Cape Shore process, the cooperation of the Cape Shore Area Development Association, the local fisheries committee, the Town Council of St. Brides, and the Coalition for Fisheries Survival, assisted the people of the area to effectively analyze and discuss actions related to the crisis in the fishery. In Branch, with the backing of the Cape Shore Area Development Association, members of the concert planning group worked with residents from both Branch and Point Lance to creatively mirror the problems of the community to the community at large, in the hope of inspiring change.

My determination to work through and with local organizations in all three processes, was based on my belief that without the backing and support of local organizations, work that addresses sensitive issues might not gain the support and participation of the local population. As well, this principle of working through local organizations was based on my understanding of Protz's (1991) idea that "any communication effort must, sooner or later, link up with existing structures which can provide support and inputs for the action chosen" (p. 21).

It is likely that organizations gained publicity and community respect from their participation in what was viewed locally as exciting and innovative work. As well, several organizations received credit for their organizational efforts from the mainstream media, which reported on the fishery-related aspects of the processes.

One of the primary difficulties in working with and through local organizations was that they sometimes had the effect of keeping people from participating in processes perceived as being controlled by rival community leaders or competing organizations. For example, in the case of the Cape Shore survival forum, local leaders were so aware of this possibility that they chose to keep their respective organizations' names out of the limelight of this event. The concept of working through existing structures has been addressed by many adult education authors and practitioners concerned with social change. Kidd and Rashid (1984) describe how Aranyak from Bangladesh shifted their theatre focus from public performance to facilitation of existing community groups, suggesting that Aranyak understood the need to develop social change capacity within local structures. Similarly Snowden (in Quarry, 1984), when describing the Fogo Process operating in Port aux Choix, suggested that communication processes must be linked to existing organizations who can help to maintain such processes in the long-term.
Role of Experts
Throughout all three processes, I made special efforts to ensure that outside experts, or those perceived locally to be outside experts, did not take over control of the processes. For example, in St. Mary's Bay, the committee expressed initial interest in having the public conference attended by many politicians, scientists, and local leaders who would speak to the people as "experts". After lengthy discussions, the committee agreed to reserve the event for the local "non-experts", so that community people would have a chance to speak. The committee and I both thought that building high powered and high-profile people into the agenda, such as the local Member of Parliament and federal Minister of Fisheries, the event would turn into a top down media circus instead of a participatory event aimed at challenging the status quo. In the end, such experts were invited to the event as participants but not as presenters or speakers. Predictably, none of them attended nor acknowledged the event's existence, which is likely related to the lack of status they would have at the event.

This approach to experts was based on the fact that there are few events in rural Newfoundland where average people can voice their concerns and ideas. As well, it was rooted in the principle that a top-down banking model of education (Arnold et al., 1991) would not acknowledge the experience or knowledge of the learner, would not allow people to develop their analysis to-action skills, would be the antithesis of conscientization, and would not encourage participation in change.

Overall, our approach allowed communities to retain control over both the process and the content of the three processes. It ensured that the protocol of hosting politicians and experts did not consume the valuable time, focus, and energy of the organizers. In other words, because these were peoples' events, the organizers could relax, have fun, and make their plans relevant and responsive to community needs.

On a negative note, however, the absence of experts or officials at this conference was viewed by some local participants as a sign of how poorly planned and how unimportant the event was. For example one individual at the public conference, after hearing that there were no politicians expected to attend, publicly criticized the committee for not having done a proper organizing job. As well, even though the mainstream media reported on this process, those in positions of power--who often have the ability to support or crush local initiatives--likely never heard the proposed ideas and solutions that people raised during the event.

Even though the organizing committee noted these complaints they stood by their decision to keep the event for the "non-experts". In retrospect this would have been an ideal time and place for committee members to raise the possibility of a second or follow-up process where ideas and actions raised during the conference could have been presented to the "experts". This issue of expert participation in social change has also been addressed by Epskamp (1989) who believes that content experts can negatively affect the full participation of community people in educational activities.

Processes Rather Than Events

All the above popular education efforts were ongoing continuous processes with undefined beginning and ending points, rather than single learning events restricted by schedules and deadlines. This approach allowed for flexibility and creativity, and ensured that emerging community ideas and needs were integrated quickly and easily into an overall plan of events. For example, as mentioned previously in the St. Mary's Bay process, unexpected community events threatened to compete with our chosen Saturday public conference, and the planning committee re-scheduled the conference. Similarly, in the early planning stages of the Cape Shore fishery survival forum, sudden and unusually good fish catches in the area seemed to dissipate local interest in organizing the event. A few weeks later however the fish were becoming scarce once again, and interest in the forum was rejuvenated. These activities likely would have been cancelled outright if the process had not allowed them to be developed with flexibility and at the communities' pace.

This process orientation to community development was an underpinning of MUN Extension's overall philosophy. It fell in line with Harris' (1992) belief that a community development strategy that promotes long-term benefits to community competence can not be operated effectively within the constraints of pre-arranged programs and courses which are not designed over time at the community level. Similarly, Cadena (1984) claims that a methodology of social change education, seeking to implement an alternative society through the growth of critical consciousness, needs to operate as an ongoing process, not as a series of traditional educational activities.

The weakness of this process-oriented popular education approach was the amount of time and resources required for implementation. Because there was no defined end point to these processes, there always seemed to be another visit to the community requested or required. Each of these return visits required extensive time and material resources; neither were in endless supply.

The ongoing, free-flowing popular education process can be expensive, if the tools and resources used need to be brought in from the outside. However, if the popular education process is initiated and operated from within the community with volunteers and readily available local resources, expenses can be minimized. Whereas some authors (Bappa, 1981) laud popular education for its ability to rely on local resources, others (Protz, 1991) stress that popular educators must be careful to use appropriate tools and technologies as some, like video, are expensive, require considerable training and may not be available to the community in the long-term.

Learning Strategies

Four learning strategies were important in my field work: (a) starting with the learners' experience, (b) using generative themes, (c) using popular theatre, and (d) using popular video.
Starting With the Learners' Experience

In all processes I began with the learners' experience. By taking the time to establish what they already knew, participants were able to recognize and to appreciate their existing knowledge and to realize how much they could learn from one another. For example, in Branch, the community's experience was sought through a questionnaire and was utilized in the creation of the issues-related dialogues. In St. Mary's Bay, the video tape and public conference both used local experience retrieved through the use of generative questions designed by the committee. In the Cape Shore, the theme of the video week was the experience of people of the Cape Shore, and the fishery survival event began by focusing on the current situation of local fishers. The use of this learning strategy is based on a social change approach to education, wherein the experience of participants is valued and used, and wherein new facts are connected to what participants already know (Arnold et al., 1991). The strategy is consistent with Vio Grossi's (1981) belief that the starting point of such education is concrete popular culture. This learning strategy ensured that all processes were relevant, sensitive, respectful to both individuals and communities, and based on community needs.

Generative Themes

Early on in all processes, generative themes were sought. The use of generative themes was consistent with Hope and Timmel's (1984) belief that such themes can draw upon issues that are so important to a community that its members will be stimulated to break free of apathy and participate in action. In the St. Mary's Bay process two key questions were used to draw themes or issues most relevant to the community. In the Branch process, questionnaires were used to determine generative themes, images, words and memories related to the survival of Branch. In the Cape Shore process, video was used to reveal the generative themes and issues of importance to the people.

These themes laid the groundwork for a more accurate analysis of community problems among local people. By involving the community in finding their themes, enthusiasm and interest in the educational process as a whole was created. As well, the themes that evolved were crucial to the overall educational approach because they ensured that the content of all activities was relevant to local people. This is consistent with Arnold et al.'s (1991) findings. However, in the Cape Shore this problem-based analysis-to-action approach to education opened up local wounds that the committee was not prepared nor interested in dealing with. Attempts to pull community people together so that they could work on common issues, resulted in exacerbating friction and conflict within the community. However, these are problems any community has to deal with if it is to move on. The friction and conflict may in fact, have contributed to longer-term analysis.

Grass-root mobilization and citizen participation efforts have been criticized by Vasoo (1991) for creating unintended consequences and conflict in communities. He notes that those initiating a problem-solving issues-related approach to education and community development should be aware of, and prepared for, unanticipated interactions. In the Cape Shore case, although it may not have been injurious for the community to face existing conflict head on, a greater knowledge of internal community politics on my part could have ensured that mechanisms for dealing constructively with such conflict, were in place.

Use of Popular Theatre

The choice of theatre as the principal learning strategy in the Branch process was rooted in my belief that when engaging a community in a dialogue about its problems and future actions for change, a culturally appropriate medium must be used. The medium of theatre was deemed to be appropriate because it could easily and effectively build upon the theatrical traditions, interests and needs of the community.

The popular theatre developed in Branch functioned within the framework of popular education. The strategy used was similar to Epskamp's (1989) description of popular theatre which can assist communities to reflect and act upon their problems and which builds upon the forms that the audience will appreciate most. Branch has a long history of community concerts where theatre has been used to mirror reality and to create discussion. As well, local community members were interested in using the familiar medium of dialogues to stir things up in what they described as a dying community. It was clear to all involved that any educational process undertaken had to be done with minimal resources that could be accessed locally. Theatre was the logical choice.

The category of theatre developed in Branch could best be described as a blend of community documentary-drama theatre (Brookes, 1974; Epskamp, 1989; Kidd, 1981; Kidd & Rashid, 1984; Selman, 1986) and conscientization, organizing for action theatre (Bappa, 1981; Kidd, 1981; Malamah-Thomas, 1987). Like the community documentary-drama theatre described by Selman (1986), the Branch theatre celebrated local culture, gave local residents a voice, attempted to stimulate reflection on serious community issues and aided community analysis. But unlike Brookes' (1974) documentary-drama theatre, the Branch theatre was designed from the onset to go beyond the development of awareness and ideas, to promote organization and action for social change. This is the approach described by Bappa (1981), Malamah-Thomas (1987) and Kidd (1981). Like Bappa (1981), the Branch theatre tried to get beyond the mere dramatization of social issues and established from the beginning, ways for community people to participate in follow-up activities emerging from the theatre. Similar to the Laedza Batanani initiative undertaken in Botswana (Kidd & Byram, 1982), the organizers of the Branch theatre process attempted to ensure that the type of action represented in the theatre, could be undertaken in a reasonably short period of time, and could be initiated or implemented sucessfully without government support. Theatre was an appropriate and effective choice for the Branch process as it encouraged community participation in the discussion of serious problems affecting it.

A primary weakness of using theatre in the Branch process was that its effectiveness and clarity was such that it raised the awareness of the audience as well as its expectations for help. This is consistent with Epskamp's (1989) description of theatre developed by Ahmadu Bello University in Nigeria in the late 1970s which raised expectations that were difficult for the initiators to live up to. Another weakness in the Branch process was that many residents and local leaders did not realize fully the value of social change theatre and saw it chiefly as entertainment. Thus, insufficient community support emerged from the concert and any momentum created by the dialogues quickly dissipated. This is similar to Protz's (1991) description of video which is perceived and expected to be an "entertainment-only medium" (p. 16). Finally, although the Branch theatre raised awareness and created dialogue it did not result in strengthened community organizing capacity. This is similar to a theatre project in the Philippines described by Epskamp (1989) which also was inadequate in developing and strengthening organizational infrastructure.

Use of Popular Video

The committees' decisions to use video as a significant component of both the St. Mary's Bay and Cape Shore processes was based on the expressed interest of community people in these areas, the resources that were available to them, and MUN Extension's past experience, skill, and reputation with video-based community communication processes. The decisions were grounded in the mutual belief of the community and field worker, that video had the potential to encourage constructive communication, analysis, and action on sensitive and serious issues affecting the rural communities of the region. The organizers in each process believed that video could be a useful tool, although each had some initial reservations about their abilities to use the technology. This is similar to Protz's (1991) idea that when video is first introduced to any village, people are likely to be cautious, suspicious and even hostile towards the technology.

The video of these processes contributed to community dialogue, empowerment and action. In St. Mary's Bay, video encouraged debate and increased the level of understanding of community people on local economic issues. As well it helped develop community confidence and motivation towards the implementation of solutions proposed to the problems raised throughout the process. Much like the video used in Port aux Choix and described by Snowden (in Quarry, 1984), the St. Mary's Bay video sought to create interest in local development organizations, and to break down and prevent the further development of hostile barriers among local sectors within the community. Like the video described by Protz (1991), this video allowed people to determine the themes and issues to be discussed and analyzed, and attempted to build upon "the existing media forms and communication processes" (p. 20) already in use in the area, including public meetings and music.

In the Cape Shore process, video was used to bring people and communities of the area together in a spirit of cooperation to discuss, debate and analyze themes and issues relevant to their communities' cultural, social and economic survival. But the popular education process began to open up old conflicts within the community. In the end however, the video process served to help unify the community. Video was a mechanism through which local residents could have a voice in issues that concerned them, a tool that encouraged analysis of complicated economic and social issues, as well as a learning strategy that encouraged the celebration of what it was that people liked about themselves and their culture.

This video activity was comparable to other popular video experience. For example, like the video described by Dubey (1984b), this video sought to help local people clarify attitudes, focus attention on key issues, and speed up decision-making and action on them. As well, like some of the Fogo Process work, this video sought to involve local people in all aspects of the production and provided an opportunity for local residents to remove what they did not want in the tapes. This was important as it allowed people to present the self-portrait or community-picture that they wanted to share with their neighbours in the region. Similarly, like the video described by Ghosh (in Protz, 1991), the Cape Shore video process attempted to relieve the sense of frustration and isolation of both individuals and communities by bringing them closer together through a combination of video and public events related to the video. The video distribution system established through the local library ensured that those most isolated in this region could participate in the ongoing issues-related debate. As well it guaranteed that ideas and solutions to problems raised during the process would not be easily forgotten.

The use of video was a successful learning strategy in both the St. Mary's Bay and Cape Shore processes although it had its weaknesses. In both processes, the video equipment occasionally intimidated and inhibited local people from voicing their opinions, concerns and solutions. Some people expressed uncertainty about what was to be done with the video footage after the event. For example, people were often loath to discuss, on camera, issues related to unemployment insurance because they feared that they could inadvertently incriminate themselves or a neighbour and the tapes could eventually be seen by someone who would report the suspicious activity to government authorities. Verbal guarantees from the organizing committee that the tapes would be kept safely, and confidentiality assured, were not enough for some local people to speak freely on all issues. A second weakness of video in these processes was that on occasion, participants forgot that the primary purpose of the video was analysis and action and not the final product. Thus, crews occasionally sought to mimic mainstream television productions and personalities. Although I attempted at the beginning of each process to clarify why video was being used in the region, I needed to remind participants from time to time that involving all facets of the community in the video process was more important than the quality of the end video product. As well, some participants developed an infatuation with the video technology and seemed to be disinterested in discussions on follow-up initiatives that proposed the use of learning strategies and tools other than video. In other words, some participants became more interested in video than in follow-up or community change. This is similar to Protz's (1991) description of a "video fetish" (p. 20) whereby participants believe the natural progression of using small-format video is to become full-fledged video producers.

Analysis of Outcomes

Numerous authors and practitioners of popular education have described difficulties in trying to determine if, how, and why social change education has impacted on the communities and individuals they intended to assist (Adams, 1975; Harris, 1992; Protz, 1991; Williamson, 1991). The outcomes from these processes have been no less difficult to analyze. Because of the overall flexible, open-ended, multi-dimensional, and subsequently complex nature of the processes, it has been difficult to determine which input, activity, or learning strategy has been responsible for which output, action, or community change. The difficulty in determining evidence linking inputs and outputs is further compounded by the fact that much of this community change will likely occur over time, long after the formal educational processes are complete.

Improved Community Dialogue and Information Sharing

All processes contributed to, encouraged, and created conditions for community dialogue and information sharing. Individuals from different backgrounds, educational levels, age groups, income brackets, occupations, and communities, who did not normally communicate with one another beyond day to-day interaction were brought together to discuss, debate, question and challenge one another on important community themes. Communities and families with long histories and patterns of competition and rivalry were able to put aside their differences and to find common ground related to their communities' survival.

Dialogue and communication occurred during planning committee discussions, public forum debates, informal discussions among participants and within the community at large. Examples of these interactions include: (a) debate and discussion between all sectors of the fishery in the St. Mary's Bay conference; (b) youth from the Cape Shore interviewing fishers, farmers and community leaders of the community on topics related to its survival; and (c) the concert planning group in Branch interviewing residents on possible themes for the dialogues. These examples are consistent with Snowden's description of how film was used on Fogo Island to break down hostilities between communities (in Quarry, 1984), and to Williamson's (1991) description of a project in Nepal whereby villagers interviewed one another on topics of concern to them.

Although the three processes were effective in stimulating and encouraging positive dialogue, they also had shortcomings. In St. Mary's Bay, participants were frustrated that the public event did not include local experts and politicians. In Branch, expectations for community action were raised which the concert planning group was unable to deal with. In the Cape Shore process some of the dialogue and discussion took on a negative, individual blaming tone of criticism which was unconstructive, reinforced old community rivalries and did nothing to promote collective action for change. These negative consequences are consistent with Protz's (1991) description of how community disharmony, competing interests, and conflicting needs, can disrupt or de-rail video-based projects intending to bring about change.

Development and Enhancement of Skill and Confidence

All processes contributed to the skill development of individuals participating in them. Although it is difficult to determine exactly which participants developed which skills, I did observe participants using skills they had clearly stated not having at the beginning of the process. For example, participants who initially could not use a video camera, would not speak in public, or didn't know how to plan a community learning event, I later observed leading a video crew, speaking passionately about their community at a public forum, or debating the finer points of a proposed learning activity. Participants with little experience in community-based educational processes who were involved with the planning committees developed and improved their planning, organizing, educational design and analysis skills. Participants involved with the video based processes improved their questioning, listening, and interviewing abilities as well as technical skills related to video technology. Participants involved with the theatre-based process improved their analysis and critical thinking abilities, as well as skills related directly to theatre production. This experiential skill development is similar to Arnold et al.'s (1991) discussion of social change education whereby participants develop skills because they have input into how teaching and learning occur, because they are allowed to make mistakes, and because it adapts to the changing needs of the participants.

In addition, many participants throughout the processes developed self confidence. Indicators of this enhanced confidence, clearly visible in the later stages of the processes, included: participants acting on their own to arrange and shoot their own video stories; participants organizing and implementing, with minimal instruction or supervision, important community events such as the fisheries survival forum; participants arriving at concert practices with suggested changes and improvements to the overall concert content; and participants comfortably leading their peers in small group discussions. These self-confidence building outcomes are consistent with Taylor's (1991) suggestion that popular education activities enable participants to become "more aware of what they already knew, helping them to make connections, building up their competence and their confidence to manage new processes and to consolidate new learning" (p. 12).
Such competence and confidence, often directly transferable to other community issues, are important for communities in crisis attempting to organize around serious problems. They are a critical component of leadership development which is essential if local people are to lead their communities in actions which ensure community survival.

Impact on Local Leaders and Community Organizations

Many local leaders and community organizations involved with the popular education processes, were affected positively by these experiences. Their involvement heightened local awareness of the time and effort they were expending on community development and created an enhanced image of them as progressive, hard working, and committed individuals and organizations. This recognition encouraged and energized both local leaders and organizations, and will likely inspire them to remain involved in future community work. This result is consistent with Cadena's (1984) belief that involvement in popular education processes can strengthen organizations.
Participation in the processes brought informal and formal community leaders together to work on common community problems. Individuals and organizations who did not normally work together within the community were brought together in a spirit of cooperation and teamwork. This involvement had the effect of helping such leaders to "tune into" community needs, aspirations and desires-crucial for any leadership desiring to build broad participation in community change. As well, local leaders often were reminded throughout the processes that they needed to be accountable to their community. Similarly, many local people learned that they need to ensure that chosen leaders are accountable to them. These outcomes are similar to Harris' (1992) description of a video process whereby confidence towards the leadership was enhanced and whereby the "social contract between community representatives and community residents" (p. 135) was renewed.

Follow-up Community Action

Specific follow-up plans to the processes were best developed after most activities had been completed and evaluated. For example, in Branch, even though attempts were made to get the community thinking about follow-up action early on in the process through the use of the questionnaire and the concert program, it was generally felt that clear plans for follow-up action would be developed after the community's reaction to the concert had been gauged. In the Cape Shore, although discussions were held regarding the potential for permanent community television in the area, it was felt that action should only occur after the video week process was complete and after the community had time to digest its impact and effectiveness.

However, most of the tentative long-term follow-up plans envisioned by the committees did not occur. In St. Mary's Bay, even though an ad hoc survival committee was struck at the conference, a permanent committee did not develop. In Branch, even though the concert had the community debating Branch's future long after it was over, neither a planning committee for Come Home Year nor a survival committee emerged. In the Cape Shore, even though follow-up video-based events were planned and carried out, the establishment of permanent community television did not materialize. Many planned follow-up activities that did not occur can be related to the lack of resources available to implement them. This is consistent with Selman's (1986) belief that although theatre production has great potential to raise awareness, change goals will only be attained when serious attention is given to follow-up efforts.

Planned follow-up activities that occurred and which can be directly linked to activities of the popular education processes included: (a) the Cape Shore community video editing weekend; (b) the formation of a temporary survival committee from the St. Mary's Bay area which attended an important conference related to the fishery;
(c) informal meetings and discussions between community leaders and organizations about potential future economic development activities for the Cape Shore and St. Mary's Bay North; and (d) follow-up discussions in Branch regarding the possibility of developing a summer tourist dinner theatre. The number of measurable and observable long-term outcomes that have resulted from the processes to date are limited. Although the seeds of empowerment were planted, change and development take time. It is difficult to predict whether these seeds will take root, grow, and someday bear the fruit of social change.



This thesis examined the use of popular education in rural Newfoundland as a methodology for encouraging participation in social change. The context of this study was a declining inshore fishery without which few communities in this area could expect to survive. As a field worker with Memorial University Extension, I was challenged to work with local people to develop a means of community organizing which would draw immediate attention to and action on community and fishery survival issues.

Popular video and popular theatre were chosen as the educational responses best suited to this desire for mobilization and change. Local people and I believed that the imminent collapse of the inshore fishery required an immediate and dynamic response. The goal of this video and theatre work was communication, analysis and the design and implementation of strategies for community-based action and change.

The study focused on three processes of popular education undertaken in the western Avalon region between 1989 and 1991. It described the background, planning and implementation process, content, and outcomes of each process. All were described in the context of relevant literature on popular education, popular theatre and popular video. Interpretation and analysis of this work was provided and various aspects of the organizational approach were reviewed including the philosophy employed, the role of committees, local leaders, and experts, and working through local structures. As well, various learning strategies including starting with the learners' experience, the use of generative themes, and the use of theatre and video were considered. Finally, the outcomes emerging from these processes were described.

The following section draws conclusions from the study which are based upon key learnings coming out of the analysis and interpretation of the popular education experience described. In the final section I propose recommendations of relevance to popular educators both in Newfoundland and in other contexts, who are interested in further developing their theory and practice of popular education.


Several significant conclusions can be drawn from this study. The ones most relevant and useful to other popular educators are presented.

1. A popular education approach which begins with the learners experience, builds upon local traditions and culture, and stresses democratic communication, has great potential in contributing to community spirit and cohesion, developing and enhancing skill and confidence, and improving community dialogue in rural areas. Such outcomes can often lead to community action and change especially if human and material resources are available for follow-up initiatives.
2. A key element in the success of any popular education process is the ability of the facilitator to ensure that control of the process remains in the community. The most successful processes are those where community people take over the organization and implementation of all activities, make all key decisions and where a sense of community ownership prevails. Working with and through local structures and formal and informal leaders can be an effective way of ensuring that the community retains control of a process that is facilitated by outsiders. Sometimes existing frictions between competing community interests can inadvertently be brought into the process, although working with informal female leadership can help to prevent such conflict.

3. An effective starting point for any popular education process is to encourage the community to reflect upon its history, knowledge, and experience. Stories, songs and other forms of local cultural expression can be a useful and fun way of stimulating such reflection and analysis. They can be effective in helping a community to determine its generative themes of key issues. Utilizing local cultural forms can also create interest in and enthusiasm for both the planning and implementation of the popular education process.

4. One weaknesses of a process approach to popular education is that processes are in a dynamic state of change and can require more time and resources than the community and initiators have to devote to them. If supporting agencies are not committed to the community in the long-term and withdraw their services and resources before the community's goals and objectives are realized, community people can feel frustrated and disempowered.

5. Some popular education processes fail to move community people beyond reflection, debate and analysis to collective action for change. Additionally, change directly related to popular education activities, can be difficult to observe and measure. Working through organizations that have an existing commitment to social change is one strategy designed to move participants beyond analysis and discussion.

6. External forces often impact upon popular education processes. These forces can take many forms including: officials boycotting events where many voices will be heard and where community action ideas will be raised; local leaders concerned about maintaining their power trying to control the process for their own interests, or to change the focus so that it is apolitical; and unforseen individual commitments and community occurrences that disrupt planned activities. The facilitator must be prepared for such possibilities and must have a commitment to both the community in which he [she] works, and to the principles of the educational approach being used. He [she] must be ready to carry on with the work even when the going gets tough.

7. Both theatre and video can be effective tools when used in a popular education process. Both have the potential to deepen analysis, stimulate dialogue, and promote action on serious community issues. Both can effectively incorporate local indigenous knowledge, culture, and experience into any popular education activity and can help to create enthusiasm for and interest in acting together for change. Theatre is especially effective for addressing community problems and solutions if local resources are limited. Video requires more resources and can be difficult for a community to utilize if they do not have prolonged outside support. Video however has an exceptional ability to create debate and dialogue among people spread over large rural geographical areas and over prolonged periods of time. Using the tools of theatre-including songs and recitations-and video together in the same educational process can be more effective than using either tool separately. In such instances theatre can be the force that brings the community together and video can be the technology that pushes the awareness, dialogue, and action beyond the doors of the community hall.


The following recommendations are proposed for popular educators interested in further developing their theoretical foundation and practical expertise in community change.

1. Because popular education can raise community expectations for action and change, the facilitator must ensure that realistic objectives for any process are established and that they are presented clearly to the community. The facilitator should ensure that hopes and expectations for follow-up action and community change are discussed among committee members, and that steps are taken early on to ensure that resources needed for implementation of such actions are available. Outside facilitators must clearly state the parameters of their institution's involvement.

2. The process approach of popular education can be costly in terms of both time and resources, therefore facilitators must ensure that projects are realistic and feasible for the community. Tools and technologies should be carefully chosen and locally available.

3. Facilitators must do everything possible to ensure that the community retains control over the education process. One way of accomplishing this is by forming committees comprised of local residents and facilitators, who are mandated to guide the process and connected to existing community groups and individuals already involved in community development and change.

4. When forming a local committee, the facilitator must ensure that powerful organizations or individuals do not dominate or manipulate the process for their own benefit and to the detriment of other weaker community interests. Approaching a variety of people and groups, and ensuring that they have equal opportunity to become involved in the process, are logical starting points for such involvement. Facilitators should also ensure that informal leaders and a significant number of women are encouraged to participate on local committees.

5. Time and energy must be set aside for the skill, confidence, and leadership development of individual committee members, especially if they are inexperienced with community development or educational activities. Adequate time must also be set aside for internal committee process work and team building, as committees can often bring together a wide range of community interests who have existing interpersonal conflicts between them. Efforts should also be made to develop the capacity of local organizations involved with the process so that they can continue the work after the support agency is gone.

6. Adequate time and energy must be allotted initially to find the generative themes of the community. The use of theatre, video, drawing and other participatory research techniques can be explored to do this. History can also be an important starting point in terms of assisting a community to find these themes, to analyze its current problems, and to plan future action. Efforts must be made to find an acceptable balance between the use of culture as entertainment and culture as an educational tool leading to action and change.

7. Facilitators must be committed to see the process through. They should be committed to the community and preferably should live in the community for the duration of the process in order to earn trust and credibility. Time must also be allotted for gaining a thorough understanding of the community's political, economic, and social reality. Facilitators require their employing institution's or organization's support.

8. Both video and theatre have the potential to expose, criticize, confront, and generate emotional energy, therefore steps must be taken to ensure that community people involved in any process have committee support and protection if and when those exposed and criticized choose to "shoot the messenger". The committee should discuss and agree upon a committee response to such situations.

9. Facilitators of any video-based process should introduce the technology gradually so that trust in the facilitators and confidence in the educational process can be developed.


The work described in this thesis was successful because it was developed and implemented by rural people committed to the survival of their communities. It is significant because local people used innovative approaches to generate a sense of community empowerment in a region of Newfoundland foundering upon bad times.

The challenge ahead for rural Newfoundland fishing communities is ominous. Part of this challenge falls upon the shoulders of adult educators who profess to believe in this province. They must get "out beyond the overpass", not with prescribed maintenance or adjustment programs, but with innovation, creativity and a deep-rooted respect for rural people. They must start utilizing a social change approach to education if this province is to avert the largest out-migration in its history. As Cletus Canning said in Ferryland, we must do our part to put that four-letter word in minds of all Newfoundlanders and Canadians. Think fish. We must remind people that fish is the soul and pride of Newfoundland. We must do our part to get people respecting, understanding, dialoguing and acting upon, both the survival of the fishery, and rural Newfoundland. Pat Cabot Vice- President of the Coalition for Fisheries Survival (Division of Extension, 1990) said it best:

We are losing this resource gentlemen. The writing is on the wall. Are we going to sit back and moan our way out of this industry? Something that provided our livelihood for hundreds of years? We were supposed to feed our families with this and pass it on to our children. Our students aren't going to save it for us. Our seniors aren't. We are the people living at a time and a place when it's happening. We are the people who have a moral responsibility to stand up and save our industry. Because we're not only losing our industry but it's our culture, our tradition, our proud heritage left in peril. If this goes, you'll see people scattered all over the country, uprooted. That's what we're facing. (p. 28)


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