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Image: Young people together in school

What if Mass Media was Used for Good?

If a photograph is worth a thousand words, what positive change could we grow if we used that media for good? Ripple Effect Images has been harnessing the power of media and storytelling for almost a decade to support organizations making a big difference in the lives of impoverished women and children around the globe.

What if the content we consume provided solutions to the biggest problems faced around the world?

The team behind Ripple Effect Images is traveling the globe to tell the stories of organizations on the ground who are changing the world for those most in need. Their images shine a light on what’s possible, and the stories they tell inspire us all to become a greater part of that progress!

Let’s see what this great organization has been up to…

“If you see the problems and the solution, then it’s educational”

There is an endless number of organizations out there on a mission to do good: to improve health, the planet, and economies. But very often, their innovative solutions aren’t given the exposure or funding to reach their full potential and greatest impact.

That’s where this crew of masterful storytellers comes in! Ripple Effect Images (Ripple, for short) is a group of National Geographic contributing photojournalists, who have been Pulitzer, Emmy, and World Press honorees, as well as a recipient of the National Humanities Medal. 1 They’re out there capturing the stories of those hard at work in some of the world’s most impoverished places, documenting the influence these groups have on lives on an individual and community level, from supporting education, a growing economy, energy, infrastructure, and providing much-needed medical care. (See their Seven Pillars here.)

Ripple’s short videos and photography give us all something that’s missing in most coverage of the problems the world faces: a solution.

Don’t get me wrong, Ripple isn’t glossing over these devastating stories one bit. But they don’t just drop us off at the suffering and leave us to sit with the false and debilitating notion that there isn’t hope. They walk us through the scope of the problem and then share the story of a program that’s actually making waves to have a positive impact on the lives of women and children. They connect us to a path forward.

This first video introduces us to a few members of their team, including founder Annie Griffiths, who was one of the first female photographers at National Geographic. Amongst a smattering of their stunning imagery, they let us in on what drives them to do what they do.

Via: Ripple Effect Images 2

You can see thousands of the beautiful images photographers have shared from around the world by clicking here! And meet more of their wonderful team here!

When in a World Driven by Storytelling, Tell Stories that Matter

Stories have led our societies for millennia. They’re how we connect, learn, innovate, and grow.

We live in a time now, where most of the stories we consume come to us through media. And, the constant negativity of those stories is starting to take its toll. You’ve felt it; it’s nearly impossible not to. We’re logged into it, following it, notified by it, and a lot of us find ourselves blaming it for the downward spiral we believe we’re heading into.

The thing with media is that it’s created to be consumed. And, like anything else created for the same purpose (like, food, for example), we each individually have the choice of what stories we take in.

I like to think of our current relationship with media like our plight with junk food. Is what we’re consuming good for us in the long run? Or are we making our choices based on what’s immediately available and right in front of us? We can choose media that makes us want to bury our heads in the sand or we can choose good news that informs us and empowers us.

This is the beauty of the boom in media—we aren’t limited to a handful of options. In the metaphorical grocery store that is the internet, we have the choice of what we put in our carts. We choose what media we want to support and be nourished by. And if we choose carefully, we can support media that is educational and empowering; good news that tells us the real stories of life beyond our own bubbles and shows us the possibilities that are out there. The stories we tell and choose to listen to change the way we look at the world.

This is what Ripple is doing. And here’s just one example of the real impact they’re having!

Image: 5 Solar Sister entrepreneurs together!
Solar Sisters!
Photo by Joanna Pinneo
Courtesy of Ripple Effect Images

Their teams of storytellers—award-winning photographers, photojournalists, writers, and filmmakers—are telling the world about the great efforts happening to improve the lives of women and children around the world. Since 2011, their visual storytelling has been helping aid partners, like CARE, WaterAid, Stove Team International, and Footwork to name just a few, and raise awareness and crucial funding to scale their innovative solutions. 3

Here’s a film they created for one of those organizations, Solar Sister, which has empowered over 2,000 female entrepreneurs in rural settings across Africa with the sales of clean cookstoves and solar lights. Because of this film, “Solar Sister [won] global recognition from the United Nations and the African Congress of First Ladies. [And] they have now expanded their programs to two more countries.” 4

 Via: Ripple Effect Images 5

You can learn more about Solar Sister, their efforts, and the impact they’re having, by visiting their website. And give them a follow on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to stay up to date with their work!

Ripple has a whole library of these stories that we’ll surely be featuring down the line in future Goodness Exchange articles. But if you’d like to dive into these “50 short videos featuring innovative solutions for women and their children” right now, then I’d suggest clicking this link and heading over to their library! It’s a tour of progress you don’t want to miss.

How did Ripple Effect Images begin?

If you’re wondering how an organization like this got their start, this next short video should satisfy you!

Founder of Ripple, photographer Annie Griffiths, brings us back in time through her own journey working as one of the first female photographers at National Geographic to launching an organization that’s using that photography and film to change countless lives.

Thanks to Adobe Create’s series, Creative Voices, for bringing us this look!

Via: Adobe Create: Creative Voices 6

Adobe Create Magazine and its Creative Voices video series bring us stories of creatives and creative processes from a variety of mediums. Meet more of the wonderful people they’ve highlighted over on their Vimeo channel!

How you can help!

What would happen if we used our social platforms as catalysts for progress? If, instead of propagating those stories that are purely unsettling, created to elicit shock and reaction, we focused on sharing solution-based content and good news with our communities?

Our clicks, as well as our shares, are each a vote—content runs on them. But luckily, we’re in a system where we get to vote multiple times a day, so we can work this to our advantage! Pausing before we click into something to decide whether it’s something we want more of is powerful. Silence, or no clicks, is more powerful than anything else on the internet. To content creators, that silence is booming.

On the other hand, if we do decide the content we’re seeing is something we want more of, give it a share! “Likes” are fine and good, but their reach is limited. Sharing content puts your seal of approval on it, encouraging your community to check it out. And most importantly, it allows that content to go further than your own circle!

If silence can put an end to content we don’t want to see, a share can be a rocket launcher. For every share, the possible reach expands!

Start today by lifting up and sharing the news of Ripple and the content that they create for their fantastic partners so they can raise the resources they need to keep doing the amazing work they do!

Show this article to a friend, and give Ripple a follow on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to stay up to date with and share their work. (Which I highly suggest doing—Annie told me they’re currently working on some fantastic projects!)

Ripple is also a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit, so you can also support their work directly with a donation!

Every one of us holds power in our hands, and particularly, at our fingertips to share good news.

And if you’d like to hear about more great organizations making a difference in a variety of the problems the world is facing today, sign up for our weekly newsletter below! Every week, we bring you our latest articles, as well as some of the best pieces from our archive that are addressing today’s problems.

Stay open to new possibilities!

  • Sam

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” —Albert Einstein 

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  1. “Who We Are | Ripple Effect Images.” Ripple Effect Images, Ripple Effect Images, 31 July 2019, www.rippleeffectimages.org/who-we-are/. Accessed 16 Dec. 2019.
  2. Ripple Effect Images. “The Ripple Effect.” Vimeo, 15 Aug. 2013, vimeo.com/72417707. Accessed 16 Dec. 2019.
  3. “Impact | Ripple Effect Images.” Ripple Effect Images, Ripple Effect Images, 31 July 2019, www.rippleeffectimages.org/impact/. Accessed 9 Dec. 2019.
  4. “Impact | Ripple Effect Images.” Ripple Effect Images, Ripple Effect Images, 31 July 2019, www.rippleeffectimages.org/impact/. Accessed 9 Dec. 2019.
  5. Ripple Effect Images. “Sister to Sister, Stove by Stove.” Vimeo, 27 Jan. 2016, vimeo.com/153264213. Accessed 16 Dec. 2019
  6.  “Using Her Camera for Good: Annie Griffiths.” Vimeo, Adobe Create: Creative Voices, 8 Feb. 2018, vimeo.com/254948215. Accessed 16 Dec. 2019.
Image: Samantha Burns

Sam Burns

Former Editor-In-Chief

Sam wrote and edited hundreds of articles during her time on the Goodness Exchange team from 2016-2021. She wrote about topics from the wonders of nature to the organizations changing the world and the simple joys in life! Outside of the Goodness Exchange, she’s a part-time printmaker, collector of knick-knacks, and procurer of cheeses.

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