*An interview with Kwame Sekyere
- Firstly, congratulations on launching Project Five Fifths. How did this organization get its start?
Thank you! Project Five Fifths has been a thought in my mind for the past couple of years. It hasn’t always been in the form that it’s currently in now, in fact, it was initially just going to be something similar to a blog, but the more I’ve developed as a person in my skills and experiences, the idea has developed with me, as well.
In terms of actually kicking off as a full-blown organization, it’s difficult to put a date, moment or specific decision on it, but I see it as more of a process of growth that started a couple of years ago.
- It’s an interesting name – is there a story behind it?
Okay, so the name has everything to do with the purpose of the organization, it isn’t arbitrary. In 1787 the United States Constitutional Convention brought about an agreement called the Three-Fifths Compromise. In short, enslaved African-Americans would be counted as three-fifths of a person when state populations were counted.
I’ve taken this concept and applied it to 2017, where I believe we see a diminishing of the value of people who are somewhat distant from us, whether economically, socially or even geographically.
So I see Project Five Fifths as the tool that will bridge that distance and raise the value of these people, making them five-fifths of a person.
- What do you hope to accomplish with this organization?
This is a great question. I’ve got the weird mix of being extremely optimistic and also extremely pragmatic. In practical terms, I want to create some really great media content that people will enjoy engaging with, but content that is fundamentally rooted in giving a more rounded perspective of those who are distant, sharing their stories and simply bringing us closer to them.
- Will the media content live on the Project Five Fifths website, or is there another platform to house the work?
So the Project Five Fifths website is the main hub where you can find out about everything. But each production is an individual entity, so they will grow on their own. For example, the first production, The Streets Kitchen Podcast, has its own Twitter and Soundcloud page, but everything it does is publicised by Project Five Fifths.
- What types of media will be featured in your collection (i.e. art, video, photography, etc.)? How do you plan to create and collect this work?
The type of media isn’t so much of a question for me. My main question is how sustainable each production is. I’m not really looking for one-off pieces, I’m looking to produce media content that can build and grow over time. So the type of media can vary, but it’s more about the way it’s packaged and whether it’s sustainable over time.
Because the main focus is the community being served, I try to rely on the eyes of the people in the community organizations I work with, because they are best placed to know what needs to be heard.
- What can you tell us about the rest of the team behind Project Five Fifths? What experiences and skills are you all bringing to the table?
This question is difficult to answer. In the conventional sense, this is a team of one. But I do have key collaborators, different creatives I like to work with to produce the content. George and Josh are film students that I work with on video content and Luis, who did the sketch in the Introduction video, is multitalented too. In addition, I’ve got the organizations I work with, one example being Streets Kitchen.
So there isn’t a team per se, but there are people whose talents, reach and ideas are vital. For example, it was George and Josh that convinced me to make a podcast, which then developed into The Streets Kitchen Podcast.
- You’ve just launched, but how do you think Project Five Fifths can evolve down the road?
This is probably the most perfectly timed question you’ve asked! Not only can it evolve, it will evolve and it is currently evolving as we speak. I’ll tell you a secret, when I wrote the script for the Introduction video, the Project Five Fifths I envisaged then was not the one we saw launched on October 16th.
Fundamentally, it is always going to be about making the lives of marginalized people more known. Currently it’s what I call a ‘production hub’, the strength of this is its mobility – it’s not a house but a hub, it can fill different spaces and adapt to different needs. And I guess all this adapting will lead to evolution! I aim to be clear and open with this, which is one of the reasons I write my weekly posts on Medium.
So honestly, I don’t know exactly how it will evolve, but it will and it is!
- Where can people go for more information or to reach out with ideas?
The website is projectff.co.uk. We are @Project5Fifths on all social media. People can also email on email@example.com. I’m always on the lookout for new people and organizations to work with, so please get in contact if you have any ideas!
Kwame is the Founder of Project Five Fifths and is currently doing a part-time MSc in Human Rights at LSE. You can follow his work on Twitter @KBSekyere