Danielle Da Silva On The Power Of Storytelling, Connecting The Dots, And Dismantling Hierarchies
- IWB Post
- June 8, 2019
Chaotic as we might find it, Nature follows some vital patterns which have sustained life on our planet all this while.
The art of storytelling is nothing short of magic and also something that has successfully tapped the very essence of Nature. If we go back to ancient folklore and analyse them, the idea has always been to draw the dots, to sustain this connection like pearls on a delicate strand.
Thus, be it the laws of Nature or the art of storytelling, they both suggest that everything we see, perceive, consume, and experience is interconnected and we can’t expect whatever interests us to thrive if everything else remains neglected.
Just like Danielle Da Silva believes that “the challenges we face are intersectional and that we cannot address one problem without addressing myriad others.” Passionate about storytelling, Danielle is thus aiming to challenge everything that alters or threatens to alter the patterns of Nature and consequently impact existence in any way whatsoever.
Danielle is dynamically working towards her goals by being a storyteller (through photography and films), conservationist, scholar, and activist speaker. Founder and CEO of “Photographers Without Borders,” Danielle happens to be an internationally acclaimed and award-winning photographer. She also is a co-founder of the Sumatran Wildlife Sanctuary.
In a recent interaction that we had with Danielle, she talked about how connection is the key to the natural order of things and conservation, the compelling power of storytelling, and how women can become proactive agents of conversation by transcending all the binds of patriarchy that exist.
Here are the excerpts:
It is said that connection is the key to conservation. How can this theory be applied in the modern context of conservation?
For me, this can be applied to so many things, but I think that if the goals of conservation are to protect wildlife in their natural habitats, we need to be able to connect with the land, with each other, with these animal beings in order to care enough to do so. We as people have more power than we think and it’s up to us to change the course of environmental degradation that humans are causing.
Deeply intrigued by your passion for wildlife photography, we’re curious to know about your spirit animal, if there is any?
I connect strongly to tigers.
As the CEO of “Photographers Without Borders,” tell me about some of the borders that you had to navigate through?
We are photographers and videographers who are known for our ethical approach to storytelling and we work all over the world. Many of the NGOs and grassroots causes we work with globally are unable to access storytelling media or platforms, and we provide these materials for them so they can amplify their voices online.
Tell us a little about how you exercise the “power of storytelling” as you call it?
By capturing and sharing powerful imagery and documentaries, and by lighting the way for others to do the same in a way that is ethical and in a way that centres the voices of those they are documenting.
In your opinion, what shift in mentality is needed for people to perceive the world as a united global village?
If people could start rethinking their relationships with each other, the land and the beings we share the earth with, that would make a significant difference. We are all connected and we all rely on each other. Also, we need to start looking at some of the hierarchical, top-down power structures and frameworks in a way that allows us to begin dismantling and altering them; we need to collectively understand the ways colonialism has pervaded our lives and working to decolonize our ways and practices.
What in your opinion are the roadblocks in adapting to the consent culture in every household and imbibe it well and strong in both boys and girls?
Children and youth need to be educated on consent so that the cycles of violence can be broken. Parents/guardians also need to be educated on consent, and to try to emulate healthy relationships with those in their lives.
Was there a #metoo experience that aided you in acting to the best of your potential in organization, Dandelion Initiative, and which in turn helped in parting from its pain?
Like so many women, of course, there were driving circumstances behind wanting to contribute to an effort that seeks to eradicate violence against women. It’s empowering to cultivate sisterhood and to be involved in making any kind of change so others don’t have to experience the same pain we’ve gone through.
Did you ever happen to unknowingly forge a bond of sisterhood with another woman while photographing her?
I hope to forge bonds of sisterhood and kinship with as many people as possible.
Some common issues that you felt exist across the borders for women?
All of them.
How do you think women can become proactive agents of conversation despite the patriarchal policies on climate that show them as the passive user. What can women do to reclaim this?
I think the best thing we can all do is support one another and be strong allies towards each other. Those with more privilege need to regularly make space for those with less.
Tell me about a photo that you felt turned your world upside-down?
One photo that comes to mind is an image of a little African-American boy touching President Obama’s hair. As a mixed youth, Obama’s presidency had so many immeasurable ramifications in terms of my self-worth and capabilities; that photo exemplifies how it’s likely had similar if not more profound ramifications for so many others.
Photo Courtesy: Danielle Da Silva