Who and Where We Are

As a collective of community advocates, we are often busy gathering and sharing news, stories, images and data about our waterfront communities. But what we sometimes forget to tell you about is who we are and why we do the work we do. Although we work to make the stories, reports and images you see here as rigorously researched, well-crafted and carefully produced as those you might see or hear on a major media platform, ours are a little different. Everything here is made by people who live here. People who live the stories you read.

During this pandemic and the lockdowns, curfews and restrictions that followed, we have found the time to look inwards more than usual. We put to use the data collection and survey skills that we gained through mapping our neighbourhoods to undertake a survey of our own cohort. The data we have collected helps us understand better who we are, who is doing what, and how we can improve our work.

We discovered that we represent over 20 different waterfront communities. Although some of don’t live in a waterfront anymore, we all have experienced living in an informal settlement at some point. While some people might live their whole lives in a waterfront settlement, many move in and out or between them, depending on, say, family or employment circumstances.

Some of us have been a part of the Chicoco Collective since its inception over five years ago, while others have joined in the past six months. Some of us joined because we were community activists, fighting against forced evictions in our waterfront communities. Some of us were victims of those forced evictions. Others came as community representatives for basic radio journalism training. Some heard good things from friends or family who were already involved. Some discovered the project through flyers and through our mapping fieldwork in various waterfront communities. Others, still, came in for open call music auditions and stuck around to take part in other project activities.

Knowing where we live has been an integral part of creating a network of community correspondents to gather information citywide, at a time when we are unable to travel far from our homes. We have made the most of our community networks during this period to document the impacts of market shutdowns, in particular. We recorded how our neighbours have been coping by creating new informal systems of food distribution through pop-up night markets, selling from their homes and delivering supplies to waterfront communities by boat.

We tell these stories not only to report journalistically, but also as part of a broader effort to change the story, to transform the city. In the process, we are changing ourselves and our neighbourhoods.

So, here are a few stats on the crew. Of course, these are only part of the picture.

Tune in. Come visit. Volunteer! You’d be welcome.

Researchers, activists, rappers, mappers, actors, audio engineers, writers, readers, reporters, filmmakers, singers, students, teachers, urban farmers, makers of the city yet to come.