Phone: (269) 986-0797 Kathy or (269) 251-0065 Maria


BC Pulse wanted to know more about the experiences of unemployed and underemployed families in Battle Creek – their challenges, their community supports, and their vision for the future. They used their community connections to garner interest in the project from 11 residents who could share their experiences. Everyone came to an initial meeting led by MSU, explaining the process and confirming participation, and distributing cameras and supplies.

Two groups of residents met regularly at a community center to share and discuss their photos, explaining why their photos were meaningful descriptors of their experiences around Battle Creek. These conversations ended in action discussions in which the residents came up with ways to overcome the challenges they faced. The MSU team analyzed transcripts of the group discussions and worked with participants to create templates that represented each of their stories. Residents edited and approved their templates for a community presentation, and a local high school class designed and produced the templates.

The photovoice group hosted a gala-type presentation to the community with their story templates and an oral presentation about their experience. There was a general consensus that their voices were not being heard in desired community spaces. Gala attendees were able to take home a booklet of the residents’ photos, stories, and recommendations to share around the community. Attendees also invited residents to present their stories in other community venues to powerful decision makers. Lastly, residents formed an ongoing subgroup, applying for funding to begin some of their projects proposed during the Photovoice meetings.

The dreams they shared included:

  • fulfilling employment
  • a thriving community
  • and a limitless future for their children 

The challenges they shared included:

  • the city’s fear of change
  • structural problems with factories
  • low expectations for parents and students in schools and a ‘labeling’ requirement for support
  • being judged by wages or degrees instead of contributions and experiences
  • limited opportunities to be heard by those with power

They recommended changes around Battle Creek, including:

  • expanding non-factory employment
  • restructuring employer practices to meet resident needs
  • understanding and supporting the intersection of home and school
  • creating an empowering educational experience
  • using social media and TV to inform residents of resources
  • nurturing and leveraging potential of all youth and adults
  • expanding recreational and educational spaces and opportunities for youth
  • shifting the way leaders and organizations engage residents to ensure their voices are heard


 For more Photovoice resources, visit the System Exchange MSU website by CLICKING HERE .