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Rebecca McDonald's Media Makes Change on the Reservation

Rebecca McDonald creates a call for action through her company, bfreshproductions

Rebecca McDonald creates a call for action through her company, bfreshproductions

One of the fascinating Twin Cities community members featured in City Pages' People 2015 issue. Check out our entire People 2015 issue.

Rebecca McDonald has been telling stories through photography and video for over a decade. While she has traveled around the world for her work, in recent years she has found herself increasingly taking on projects in Native communities, including White Earth Nation, where her family is from.

"Those are the stories I focus on today," she says. "People in the community that want change and that need change."

This year, McDonald and her company, bfreshproductions, will be working on two health-related efforts, one targeting the African American community and the other focusing on the American Indian community. The media campaign #TalkDonation launches in February, and will promote organ, eye, and tissue donation through conversation in the African American community.

The project is hot on the heels of two films she produced earlier, The Gift of Life, about kidney disease in the Native community, and Women are Sacred, a film about Native women with disabilities who are survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.

"We're a group that does not want to give up our organs," she says. "It's not culturally something that we have done. So a part of [Gift of Life] talks about that history. So many Native people have health conditions that result in diabetes and having to be on dialysis, and that is a terrible way to live."

Insights from her work also come from exploring her own roots.

"There is a part of the [Women are Sacred] where we talk about history, and I used family photos to show how it was 50 years ago up in White Earth, and what it was like for Native people living in rural communities that were very tight-knit," she says.

Meanwhile, the #TalkDonation campaign was funded by new legislation that allowed the DMV to put another checkbox under the donor request box. Now there is also the question: "Do you want to donate $2 to support organ and tissue donation education?"

"The money that is funding this project is coming straight from the people," she says.

Her other media campaign this year, #FASDToolkit, aimed at the Native community, will "provide stories, resources, and tools for families, caregivers, and health professionals that work with people living on the spectrum [of FASD]," she says.

For her, telling these stories is important, as they create a call for action.

"Stories are a catalyst for change," she says. "I've always done advocacy work, and I'm able to create change through media."