End of Week three: borne in the youth SA

A lot of people ask what a Live Magazine project will look like in SA. Where will it be based? Who will it be aimed at? Will it be a printed magazine? And should it even be called Live?

These are all questions I’m remaining open-minded to, but almost a month into being here, my own, increasingly strong hunches are starting to calcify, based on what I’ve learned so far. I’ve written myself an overview of how I think it will look. But before that’s unleashed (and whichever way you cut it, it’s not going to please everyone), I’ve commissioned a piece of research that is going to drill down into the specific needs of the target audience that I want to focus on.

It’s an ethnographic study that will focus on less advantaged young people in the Western Cape, unpeeling their aspirations, ambitions and limitations, focused on employability and education. And trying to characterise how truly open the world is to young people here: which doors are shut, so we can work out how to kick them down.

Some of the answers seem obvious and well understood. The education system lets young people down; a lack of money and resources makes it hard to get around; the accepted protocols of the Western workplace can be culturally alien; language issues; the heavy shadow of segregation that still hangs etc etc.

But what’s underneath these facts? Why is it that one young person from Nyanga can become a successful entrepreneur, but their neighbour is still sitting around in their neighbourhood all day doing nothing? What is the red thread that tugs some young people out of this cycle of disadvantage? And how does this vary between communities?

I’m hoping the results will surprise, reassure, challenge and be the final word on some of the decisions I need to make about the design of the Live Mag venture here.

It’ll also give immerse me into the lives of my intended audience, and spend a good amount of time listening to what young people have to say… and I’ll be present during the second half of the fieldwork elements of the research (plus we’re looking at ways of young people co-authoring the research).

The results – a document and video presentation – will be made available on this blog in mid-July and available to copy under a Creative Commons licence.

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