Designing community engagement experiences while collecting oral memories from the elderly. A case study through videoconferencing platforms, under coronavirus confinement.

Designing community engagement experiences while collecting oral memories from the elderly. A case study through videoconferencing platforms, under coronavirus confinement.

Alicia Morales Pereyra-García, Carlos Jiménez-Martínez: Universidad La Laguna

Overview

The Telecafecito en Las Moraditas initiative –“a nice cup of coffee in Las Moraditas neighbourhood”- emerges due to the confinement situation with the purpose of generating a meeting point where to feel safe, listen to others, share stories and emotions, disconnect, learn and express ourselves in a context in which our usual forms of meeting with others became a challenge. Besides, this initiative responds to the necessity of preserving and retaking the living memory of Las Moraditas de Taco, a humble neighbourhood of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, whose history and oral heritage is at risk of disappearing. It represents a chance to strengthen relationships within the community and also towards potential visitors, while bringing technology closer to those who are not used to work with it. In this order of things, our «research question» tries to analyze and to problematize the role that the Telecafecito may have positive effects in order to stimulate the community interactions during serious periods of isolation.
In contrast with usual type of meetings which includes physical presence, this concept has been designed to mimic the physical dynamics, thus promoting a warm, relaxed and comfortable environment. In order to achieve this purpose, it is necessary to create a format which, as well as emulating physical closeness, also facilitates the fluency of discourse. Due to this characteristics, the format chosen includes a 15 minutes talk with our Moraditas resident daily guest and another 15 minutes for asking, debating and
sharing, using the chat to avoid interruptions and to guarantee its fluency. These videoconferences are framed in themes in order to facilitate the dialog. They are also illustrated with old photographies with the same purpose, allowing comfortable pauses and promoting a familiar environment. These sessions are recorded in order to register them while acting as graphic products, as well as a documentary support for the investigation on the oral memory of Las Moraditas.
Data collection has been carried out through online surveys to those who attend to our virtual meetings. This empirical data has been collected via different virtual platforms such as Google Forms or Kahoot, using the likert scale. The study evaluates the indicators in terms of their potential to be measured and their relevance for the initiative mayor
goals (companionship, engagement, education, communal living…).

Overall, Telecafecito en Las Moraditas is proving to be an appropriate alternative for our regular meetings and oral memory collecting sessions, showing the importance of adaptation towards the social needs of a community regarding to their living situation. The continued participation of the visitors which usually repeat the experience and the assessment done so far shows the positive acceptance of this proposal and offers the possibility of improving the initiative session by session. There are probably many more aspects to improve in order to engage the audience, due social initiatives are usually based in trial and error learning and adaptation towards the community settings and
their needs evolution.
This initiative and study, which analysis the effectiveness of participatory activities in order have an impact on the social welfare of a group of people, is representing a safe space of sharing inside Las Moraditas as well as in the neighboring communities. In every session new testimonies and materials are gather, enriching the investigation and enabling the oral memory preservation. New personal connections have been made and technology is now a smaller challenge to some vulnerable groups in this territory. Directions for future pathways includes a reevaluation of the platform and a continuous adjustment as the alarm situation of Covid-19 moves forward.

Keywords: virtual communities; experience design; online learning environments; confinement; memory of place; conviviality; participatory design; social welfare; oral
heritage.