Helping FAO’s Local Heroes with Participatory Video

Spectacle has been for 30+ years at the forefront of Participatory Video, supporting local communities, activists and grassroot organisations to produce their own videos. Over the last year we have helped the FAO – Food and Agriculture Agency of the United Nations collecting stories of unsung heroes facing the challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss, and multiple forms of malnutrition in their communities. Our Participatory Video expertise helped local activists from all over the world produce short videos telling their stories and sharing their ideas and efforts for sustainable nutrition and climate change mitigation in their communities.

The project ‘Stories from local heroes fighting climate change, biodiversity, and malnutrition crises’ has allowed young people from Nepal, Nigeria, Kenya, Ecuador and Venezuela to be trained in using their phones as cameras, learning how to document their life and tell their stories of activism. Through a series of initial online training sessions, Spectacle helped participants develop their skills and storytelling techniques.

In tune with our ethos and practice, all participants have learned videomaking techniques and have been allowed to direct the way the stories were developed and presented, engaging them with all phases of the video production, from filming to editing.

Climate change, biodiversity and nutrition – Helping local heroes tell their stories

Spectacle facilitated a series of workshops that allowed Apollo from Kenya, Evelin from Venezuela, Dennis from Ecuador, and Dominic from Nigeria , develop, shoot their film and direct the editing of their stories. Their 4 videos will help FAO bring to the wider public the voices of those who have direct experience of the impact of climate change and inspire other local actors with ideas on how to contribute to a better and more sustainable world.

We are proud to share here the 4 videos that were the final result of the Participatory Video process.

Apollo: Helping family farmers save food in Kenya
Dennis: Going organic in Ecuador
Dominic: Regenerative agriculture and food security in Nigeria
Evelyn: Sowing satisfaction – Dorka’s family garden

We welcome any opportunity to explore collaborations with research groups, NGOs and local communities to facilitate Participatory Video projects and develop participant-led video production.

Read more about our participatory model and past projects.

How to contact Us

If you want to be trained in Participatory Video you can attend one of our Participatory Video Workshops or organise a bespoke programme for you and your organisation.

For more information or to chat about your project and ideas email us at 

Sign up to our Newsletter for more information about our ongoing projects.

Spectacle Homepage
Spectacle training courses
Like Spectacle Documentaries on Facebook
Follow us on TwitterInstagramVimeoYoutube and Linkedin

Supporting FAO and climate change activists with Participatory Video

We are happy to announce the release at COP27 of the first 2 videos shot and directed by young activists as the outcome of a Participatory Video project facilitated by Spectacle for FAO’s ‘Stories from local heroes fighting climate change, biodiversity, and malnutrition crises” 

Over the last 6 months Spectacle has been supporting the United Nation agency Food and Agriculture Agency – FAO with our Participatory Video expertise in order to allow young activists from all over the world to produce short videos about their everyday struggle to mitigate climate change and develop better and more sustainable food systems. The project ‘Stories from local heroes’ aims at collecting stories from people whose communities experience the immediate impacts of climate change. Spectacle has facilitated the participatory video process to let young activists produce short documentaries about their effort in fighting malnutrition and biodiversity crisis.

Over the last 6 months Spectacle has facilitated online workshops with participants from Nepal, Nigeria, Kenya, Ecuador and Venezuela,  working with them in Spanish and English and providing them with training on how to shoot good quality videos with their phone, developing their filming ideas and supporting the production of short documentaries that would illustrate stories they care about. Using our online editing experience, we engaged them in selecting and cutting the footage, directing us in the technical process of editing together the stories that  would best represent their point of view.

Stories from local heros. Climate change, biodiversity, nutrition

The first two videos were launched by FAO at the United Nation conference on Climate change COP27, shown on big screens welcoming visitors to The Food and Agriculture Pavilion in Sharm El Sheikh for the duration of the conference. The first two videos are shared worldwide and will remain available on FAO’s youtube channel, which will also host 3 other videos that will be released in the coming weeks. FAO will offer Local Hero’s participants and their stories a platform to raise awareness on the effects of climate change and, more importantly, to inspire others with local initiatives aimed at mitigating the impact of climate change,  improving biodiversity and access to sustainable food.

Spectacle has been pioneering Participatory Video practice and workshop based collaborative documentary making for over 30 years. Adapting to changes in technology, nature and duration of the collaborations, Spectacle has successfully deployed strategies to support existing local groups, social research participants, local stakeholders in making their own videos around the stories that most mattered to them. Spectacle provides technical training and workshop facilitation in order to allow people who have a story to tell to work together in order to share their messages with the rest of the world.  

Since 2020, due to COVID related restrictions to travel and in-person activities, we have been further developing our Participatory Video practice in online working environments. We have been part of research projects based in different areas of the world, providing participants with filmmaking skills  and tools to develop visual stories using the technology available to them. In tune with our long established practice, we have facilitated video making processes aiming at giving editorial power to participants. For this reason we have developed strategies not only to allow participants to record videos with their phones, but also to engage them with video editing and storytelling.

We welcome any opportunity to explore collaborations with research groups, NGOs and local communities to facilitate Participatory Video projects and develop participant-led video production.

Read more about our participatory model and past projects.

Contact Us

If you want to be trained in Participatory Video you can attend one of our Participatory Video Workshops or organise a bespoke programme for you and your organisation.

For more information or to chat about your project and ideas email us at 

Sign up to our Newsletter for more information about our ongoing projects.

Spectacle Homepage
Spectacle training courses
Like Spectacle Documentaries on Facebook
Follow us on TwitterInstagramVimeoYoutube and Linkedin

The Fate of Bordon’s ‘Eco-Town’

Ordinance Survey map of Current Whitehill and Bordon regeneration plans

12 years ago, Spectacle investigated the former military towns of Bordon and Whitehill in Hampshire, which were part of a plan by the UK Government’s Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), to turn these two neighbouring towns into an ‘Eco-Town’. An effort to create a self-sustaining, eco-friendly town to combat the threat of climate change. The HCA no longer exists and funding for the project was cut in half in 2010. There have been new developments over the past decade such as Prince Phillip Park,  the Green Loop, and Quebec Park, previously the Quebec Barracks. Are these developments true to their original Eco-Town goals, or as some say, greenwashing? Are the new homes truly affordable housing for local residents? An expensive lost opportunity?

The UK eco-town plans originally set up in 2007 had taken inspiration from the European eco cities of Amersfoort, the Netherlands, Freiburg, Germany, Hammarby, Sjöstad, Sweden, Zaragoza, Spain and also Dongtan in China. The UK set up its own guidelines based on these case studies;

  • Eco-towns must be new distinct settlements, separated but well linked to surrounding towns
  • Consist of at least 5,000 new homes, 30%-50% of which need to be affordable housing and the town overall reaching zero carbon standards
  • They must also contain a variety of facilities including a secondary school, a retail centre, business and leisure spaces to provide local employment and entertainment
  • Become the lead example for at least one area of environmental sustainability and a new management body should be set up to help the development of the town. 
  • It must be easy for residents to default to a more sustainable lifestyle, including reducing the use of cars in favour of cycling or walking. 
  • For the developers, there must be a focus on conserving energy for new construction projects that need to be energy and resource efficient and be powered by renewable energy. 

In 2008 there was a shortlist of 15 planned sites across the UK for eco-town development, by 2010 there were 4 successful bids, including the garrison town of Bordon. In the May 2010 general election, Labour lost to a Conservative and Lib Dem coalition. This resulted in the funding for the eco-towns, planned by the previous government, to be cut in half. The standards for the eco-town developments were also lowered, with only Northwest Bicester in Oxfordshire still being developed closely to the original guidelines. The other 3 only needing, by law, to cover the standard building requirements of any new suburban housing model. All original eco-town development plans nationwide were archived and shelved in 2012. 

Some of the new development in Prince Phillip Park

Plans to regenerate Bordon into an eco-town continued, leading to various construction plans, some of which are still being built. The largest construction project is Prince Phillip Park which intends to build over 2,400 new sustainable homes on the north west of the town, beside the upper half of Hogmoor inclosure. The current residents of Bordon are not generally approving of the plans, with the Park’s Facebook page currently only having 2.5 stars out of 5. Some of the main complaints being the loss of woodland for the area, the unaffordability to buy or rent one of the new homes, and what are considered to be poorly thought out designs. 

The eco-friendly marketing of the Park by the The Whitehill & Bordon Regeneration Company, a joint venture between Dorchester Regeneration and Taylor Wimpey UK, could be accused of ‘greenwashing’, or overstating the environmental sustainability of the developments. For instance, the advertised ‘Green Spaces’ in the park are not new, but forested areas that were already there and that are now enclosed in the Park’s vicinity. They claim they are going to build new green spaces, however it would appear from the Prince Phillip Park timeline there have still not been any new green spaces created. Many residents are unhappy and feel their wishes for the regeneration of existing built areas, such as Bordon High Street, have been ignored.

A map of The Green Loop

Another plan for sustainability in Bordon and Whitehill is ‘The Green Loop”. This is a walkable and bikeable trail encompassing the towns to encourage residents to travel around the area on foot and to stop using their cars. On the surface it does comply with the original eco-town goal of having residents reduce the use of their cars. This plan has been praised and awarded more for its potential than its practical pay-off. Winning the ‘Best Project’ and ‘Best in Region’ awards by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) for its incorporation of an app called BetterPoints which would reward users of the loop for their activity and the Whitehill Town Council’s plan to collect drone footage of the users to see their activity day-to-day. The idea of the Green Loop is a sustainable one if it becomes a success with the residents of Bordon and Whitehill, but it requires their action for it to work, relying on them for the reduction of emissions from the town, rather than actually implementing forms of green public transport. 

Much like Prince Phillip Park, the Green Loop also does not include any newly created green spaces, relying on spaces that are already there, so does not actually make the town any greener. As for how useful it is to the residents, most work outside of Bordon and have to commute away from the town anyway, which is not helped by the fact that there are very few plans to renovate old areas of the town which could otherwise provide local employment. For example, the old fire station was converted into an ‘ecostation’ in 2012, but has not seen much use since the change.

The old Bordon Fire Station before it’s renovation

Not all changes to the town have been met with hostility however. The Quebec Barracks, formerly owned by the Ministry of Defense, was sold in 2013 to the government’s Homes and Communities Agency. This agency no longer exists as it was split into Homes England and the Regulator of Social Housing. The Quebec Barracks development is listed Under Schemes Confirmed by Homes England. It cites as both the lead partner and developing organization as Swaythling Housing Society Limited, who in turn manage the subsidiaries for the company Abri, named as the developers of Quebec Park on their website. 

Inside Café 1759 from the official site plans

Abri is a non-profit organization regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. In Quebec Park they have built 65 for-sale homes, 10 shared ownership and 25 affordable rent houses. Two former Barracks buildings were also converted into an employment centre and ‘Café 1759’. Already this new housing site avoids many of the issues faced by Prince Phillip Park, provides affordable housing, encourages local employment and the café is proving to be popular with residents as it has a 4.5 out of 5 on google and a 4.8 out of 5 on Facebook. It is also sustainable for the local environment, being solely built on a brownfield site and the housing itself designed to be environmentally friendly, with construction planned as to be ‘fabric first’ and the houses are also Low Carbon Homes.

Eco-towns are a controversial subject, not only within Bordon but in other areas given the go-ahead for development. The Rackheath eco-town in Norwich has seen similar opposition from the local population in the form of the Stop Norwich UrBanisation organisation (SNUB). Spectacle interviewed SNUB member Stephen Heard in 2010. Creating a zero-carbon emission settlement appears to be much more of a troubling endeavour and requires careful in-depth planning as well as close consultation with the residents affected by the change. As more pressure builds on the government to make serious, nationwide action on climate change, should there be another attempt for sustainable development to UK towns and how strict should the guidelines for development be? How could we stop false promises and greenwashing from occurring in these plans? And how could we ensure their success? 

Click Eco Towns and Villages for more blogs
See our Eco Towns and Villages project pages for more information and videos.

Spectacle homepage
Like Spectacle Documentaries on Facebook
Follow SpectacleMedia on Twitter

Data Leak Reveals the Truth About Palm Oil

Owners of Battersea Power Station,  Palm Oil giants Sime Darby, want to build a bio-fuel power station at the site to power the massive development. To side step criticism they claim not have decided what bio-fuel it will use ( yeah right. Maybe Palm Oil?)

This blog has been sourced from an article by David Carrington, for The Guardian.     Click here if you would prefer to view the full article.

A new data leak has revealed how certain bio-fuels can have a worse impact upon the environment then fossil fuels. Although some bio-fuels can be advantageous in preventing climate change, others such as palm oil are quite the opposite due to the large carbon footprint that they generate.

In distinguishing the good bio-fuels from the bad ones it is also important to account for factors such as deforestation and other man made sources of pollution that are involved in harvesting bio-fuels.

A diagram displaying the individual carbon footprint of bio-fuels in comparison to that of crude oil from tar sands, puts Palm oil just beneath that of the crude oil:


Second generation fuels (SG), particularly those that are land-using such as Biodiesel and Ethanol produce the least CO2. While sugar cane and corn maize are thankfully less harmful then crude oil, however their carbon footprint could still be considered a cause for concern.

Recently, the US environmental protection agency stated that Palm oil failed to meet the US requirement of emitting a minimum  of 20% less carbon then the diesel produced from crude oil. Furthermore, bio-fuels campaigner Robbie Blake for Friends of the Earth Europe further condemned the use of Palm Oil (speaking to David Carrington):

“It’s getting quite indisputable that the use of soy or palm oil to fuel our cars is even dirtier than conventional fossil fuels. Forests in Asia and South America are being destroyed by the expansion of plantations to meet the European market. It’s a delusion for politicians to think that biodiesel will solve climate change.”

An important factor that helps assess how beneficial or environmentally unfriendly bio-fuels are is sourced from research into more sustainably advancements, with the latest examples in sourcing low carbon bio-fuel come from seaweed and algae.

An EU target has been made to ensure transport fuels incorporate 10% of bio-fuels by 2020. However the production of certain bio-fuels has been named ‘unethical’ in relation to the environment and to human rights. Research groups meanwhile have branded it ‘immoral’ to not look for an alternative to using fossil fuels.

For more information on this topic view the full article here, or try these related links:

Issues surrounding the production of second generation fuels, how the EU brands fuel sustainability, other recent studies into bio-fuel carbon footprints.

Click Battersea Power Station for more blogs
See our Battersea Power Station project pages for more information and videos.
Or visit PlanA our general blog on urbanism, planning and architecture.

Spectacle homepage
Like Spectacle Documentaries on Facebook
Follow SpectacleMedia on Twitter


British Airways launches luxury service to New York

Airways was accused of hypocrisy as the airline prepared to launch a luxury all-business service between London and New York, with just 32 seats on an aircraft normally fitted for 100 people, days after chief executive Willie Walsh pledged a drastic cut in emissions.

The twice daily service on customised Airbus A318s features flat beds and latest technology allowing passengers to send emails and text and use the internet while on board.

Flights leaving from London though will be forced to make a brief refueling stop at Shannon airport in the west of Ireland because City airport’s runway is too short to handle an A318 aircraft with a full fuel load.

Greenpeace aviation campaigner, Vicky Wyatt, said the service was “[…] Willie Walsh announced that the industry is committed to playing its part in the fight against climate change. But it is blindingly obvious that the aviation industry doesn’t intend to cut emissions at all. Rather airlines, like BA, want to pay other countries and sectors to make those cuts so that the industry can carry on with business as usual.”

Friends of the Earth campaigner Richard Dyer said the spacious layout of the aircraft meant that each passenger is responsible for around three times the emissions from regular flights.

Walsh appeared before the United Nations forum on climate change in New York last week, to unveil an agreement between airlines, airports and aircraft companies to cut emissions to 50% below 2005 levels by 2050. The plan was viewed as a bid to seize the initiative on the issue, to ensure that the industry would not be ambushed with more punishing strictures at the global warming summit in Copenhagen in December. Aviation accounts for 1.6% of global greenhouse gas emissions currently, but that figure is set to grow significantly if left unchecked

BA will be under pressure to show investors that the premium airline can be a success.

Full Article : BA Luxury service