The groundbreaking work for the Hope Archive is based on a video archive documenting the struggle for the right to sound and safe housing by the Homeless Tenants of the Düzce Earthquake Victims. The Düzce Homes of Hope were the result of this battle, becoming the first social housing project in Turkey built with the participation of its future users, based on the principle of “Pursue rights together, design together, construct together.” The story of the construction of the Düzce Homes of Hope, which continues today, is the outcome of an 18-year legal and social struggle.
Over time, various materials, such as clippings of newspaper stories about the process, legal correspondence, petitions, photographs and videos collected by those involved eventually grew into a rich archive. The Hope Archive formed as a response to the very practical question, “How can we make this archive visible?” The Düzce Homes of Hope is an experience showing the possibility of constructing houses in a different way. However, very few people living in Turkey are aware of this project, a finalist for the World Habitat Awards in 2017. Believing that every experience contains a lesson, the activists of the Düzce Homes of Hope thought it would be helpful to open an archive to the public. At an exhibition of the struggle and the construction of the houses, at Studio-X in 2016, the idea emerged that it would be useful to include other such struggles and collect them all in one online archive.
Later on, architects, urban planners, journalists, directors, lawyers, geographers and others joined the volunteers of the Düzce Homes of Hope and formed the Center for Spatial Justice, (Mekânda Adalet Derneği, or MAD). Thus the Hope Archive, the seeds of which were planted in 2016, became an interactive archive under the roof of MAD.
The Hope Archive is a “participatory and collective memory platform for the struggles for justice,” and is open to the public. It includes videos in which social justice campaigns introduce themselves.
The Hope Archive, which is administered by MAD, aims to make groups working on the same issues around the world more visible and to foster communication between them. Members of the Hope Archive believe that contemplating the practices and subjects that arise in different parts of the world in a universal context provides hope and discovery. It defines hope as “continuing the responsibility of action in an uncertain world.” The Hope Archive tries to bring together real-life experiences from Turkey and around the world concerning the search for justice that must never be lost. Such counter-movements that arise when rights are violated can be defined as creating space for the pursuit of those rights. That’s why efforts that seek to find an alternative way are at the forefront of this platform. The Hope Archive is not simply a memorial or a commemoration project, but a film movement that shows the inspirational, instructive experiences of those fighting unjust policies.
The MAD team claims that all injustice, be it social, economic or political, is committed within a physical location. Such locations can be the hosts of the fights for justice, as well as the very subject of such struggles. So the content included in this platform is referred to as venues of hope. The data of the venues of hope are marked on the world map in three different ways: places, concepts and times. The website also has a timeline which displays the places of hope, key words indicating their relation with similar experiences and the date the video was made. Some “Hopes” exhibited in the platform are Wednesday Seminars, Vigil for Conscience and Justice, 95cm and Removing the Boundaries. Once the users enter the platform with their e-mail or Twitter account, they can push the “Add Hope” button and enter new locations of hope.
One problem faced by civil society is a lack of visibility. Considering the wide use of videos on social media, the Hope Archive is a channel for making those struggles visible.
Visitors to the archive say its examples give them a chance to rethink their own practice: “The Hope Archive has shown that all of these are stories of hope and has given a chance to the users where, what we are doing belongs in the context of all this geography of despair and has prepared a ground for us to show ourselves.”
To increase the number of the videos, MAD has held “video marathons” since 2019. The workshops last three days, and civil society organizations are expected to join with at least somewhat developed ideas. At the end of each workshop, one- or two-minute videos are made. These workshops aim to add videos to the Hope Archive; however, it is also possible for groups who have not joined the marathon to add their own videos.
Civil society groups that join the workshop can continue their relationships afterwards and create independent works. In this sense, it can also be said that the marathons give a chance for solidarity networks to develop. For instance, a civil society organization working on child abuse has started thinking about methods of alternative funding and decided to make a documentary film concerning child abuse.
The Hope Archive emerged in 2016 from volunteer labor, inspired by the stories of survivors of a November 1999 earthquake whose epicenter was close to Düzce. After three years, it was found financial resources with the projects to improve the website. Since expenses until now were covered with donations, there were limits on what could be done; however, this also gave volunteers a sense of ownership.
Another difficulty is that civil society and social movements are not accustomed to creating short videos to creating hope stories. So MAD encourages these groups to create content for exhibiting in the Hope Archive. They can meet with videographers who want to produce at the aforementioned marathons. The Hope Archive is introduced to civil society groups, and at the end of the workshops, two -or three- minute videos are made in the context of the ideas developed during the marathon. Unfamiliarity with the process sometimes leads to prolonging the process during the workshops.