|What is Kwamba?
“Kwamba” is a Swahili word used to link two concepts together; by itself, it means nothing. In that spirit, we believe that strong linkages and partnerships within a community create powerful synergies for success and social justice. Kwamba Productions was founded in 1995 with a mission to promote understanding and social change by listening and learning from the communities with which we work.
Kwamba is a woman-owned and -operated small business, and we have partnered with a variety of non-profit institutions and corporations throughout our history to create powerful and effective media tools worldwide. Within Kwamba, we address diversity and oppression by hiring women (a distinct minority in the fields of film and media development), by hiring people experiencing homelessness whenever possible, and by encouraging a working atmosphere of acceptance and respect for differences.
Who is Kwamba?
Dr. Wendy Kohn, co-founder & President, and Heather Mosher, Director, lead the Kwamba team in the production of educational media and films. The Kwamba free-lance staff includes experienced filmmakers, graphics artists, programmers, video editors, and designers.
Dr. Wendy Kohn:
Producer, Director, Writer
Wendy Kohn has been combining her love of animals and her passion for filmmaking since the age of 16 when she wrote, filmed, and acted in a parody of Francis Ford Coppola’s The Black Stallion, using her black mare as the star and filming without edits on her parent’s Super8 home movie camera. During her college years at Duke University, she studied biology and psychology and worked on a research team studying both human behavior using simplistic computer games (remember the Commodore 64?) and animal behavior using programmable Skinner boxes. A semester abroad in Kenya at a wildlife ranch studying the controversial issues surrounding wildlife ecology and utilization opened her eyes to the complexities of social issues. As she came to realize that wildlife and human issues are intertwined in a broader socio-political and ecological context, her experiences fueled a growing interest in effective education for social change.
Drawn to the educational and helping aspects of clinical veterinary practice and the teaching opportunities available in the field, Wendy obtained her doctoral (DVM) degree from North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1992, and conducted an externship research project on behavioral interventions that promote environmentally sound disease control in Zimbabwe. Wendy served as an adjunct professor at various universities after moving to Oregon post-graduation, teaching courses on physiological psychology, animal behavior, and wildlife biology, as well as working part-time in a small animal/exotics practice.
As personal computers and digital video cameras became more commonplace in the mid-90s, Wendy began to feel that video technology could provide tools for far greater social impact and more effective teaching. Dissatisfied with the traditional reliance on textbooks, she saw video as a way to more powerfully portray the subtle nuances inherent in social problems. Through her work in human and animal behavior, she understood how powerful visuals can vastly enhance understanding and empathy.
With that concept, Kwamba Productions was born, co-founded in 1995 to create video and multimedia products for forward-thinking organizations looking to improve their teaching and learning methodology. Since that time, Wendy has produced and developed more than 50 media products through Kwamba. Her extensive experience in educational technology has taken her all over the world, capturing footage of complicated social issues, working collaboratively with disenfranchised groups to use video as a vehicle to disseminate their voices and stories, and continuing her long-term interest in effective education through dramatic visuals and creative storytelling.
Wendy continues to work as an occasional relief veterinarian at local clinics, and provides veterinary care to the pets of homeless persons as the volunteer Executive Director of the non-profit organization Portland Animal Welfare Team.
Heather Mosher, M.S., ABD
Community Psychologist, Director, Writer, Cinematographer, Editor
Heather Mosher is completing her PhD at Portland State University in Systems Science- Social/Community Psychology. Her doctoral work focuses on participatory action research with Dignity Village - a homeless tent city community and non-profit organization in Portland, Oregon. The research purpose is to collaboratively develop empowering social dynamics in the community using participatory video techniques.
Heather Mosher is native to the Pacific Northwest, and her scholarly work and passion for social justice has taken her as far as Africa and Latin America. Heather has found innovative ways to integrate social psychology, community-based research and media in addressing issues of poverty, homelessness, gender, and sexuality. Her work centers on using community narratives through participatory video as a powerful catalyst to empower those in the margins, connecting people across diverse ethnicities, classes, and religions, and cultivating the growth of social justice.
Heather brings her academic and professional experience to Kwamba by demonstrating that sensitively crafted media can be a powerful tool by which theoretical research can have immediate social impact.
Where is Kwamba?
Our 1000 square foot studio is located outside of Portland, Oregon in a beautiful rural wooded area overlooking a recreational lake.
Our equipment includes professional DV/DVCAM cameras and Final Cut Pro non-linear editing suites. We work in both PAL and NTSC formats, for CD, DVD, and web distribution worldwide.