Help CDS create the future of stories
StoryLab is the Center for Digital Storytelling’s new hub for innovation. We’ve designed it with a big aim in mind: to radically improve public conversation in the U.S. and around the world. For CDS, this is a quantum leap, scaling up all that we’ve learned about story power to affect millions of lives. With partners around the world, StoryLab will experiment with media, platforms, techniques—whatever perfects new ways of capturing and using stories for maximum impact.
Nearly 20 years ago, CDS invented digital storytelling, understanding that story power would grow as technology evolved. Today, CDS is a leader in a vast global community media field. We’ve helped thousands of people tell their own stories with their own words, sounds, and images; we’ve brought this work to more than 40 countries and 46 U.S. states. CDS has curated eight Digital Storytelling Festivals in the US and convened or cosponsored the four major international festivals Our two books on digital storytelling, Digital Storytelling Cookbook and Digital Storytelling: Capturing Lives, Creating Communities are the definitive written resources for the field.
We've discovered that the way we shape our stories shapes our lives. Always, the same experiences can be told as reasons to give up—something happened to me, and I’ll never get over it—or as beacons of possibility—something happened to me, and from it, I’ve learned resilience and strength. Now is the time to use what we’ve learned to shape our collective story of empowerment, inclusion, and hope.
Even as we help individuals and groups tell their stories, we are contributing to a global shift in which stories will be given their true value as the seed-stock of a humane, sustainable world. We are always mindful of being part of a larger field and phenomenon. We always try to share, collaborate, and innovate in ways that advance the field of practice, not just our own work.
The 1990s and early 2000s were a watershed time for the creation and evolution of digital storytelling. In 2012, with the explosion of media platforms through social and mobile media, the time is ripe for a renewed focus on innovation, especially new ideas that can bring all of our voices to bear on the challenges we face. CDS’s time-tested approach to digital storytelling will continue to be an important element of our work, but now is the moment to boldly experiment, collaborate, and go for maximum impact.
With your help, StoryLab will test a series of exciting pilot projects shared through a new online media bank called The Republic of Stories, where you will be able to access thousands of stories from our archive and from seven new projects that use stories to bridge generations, sharing essential knowledge for a livable future:
- The Seven Stages Webinar Series asks how your stories shape your experience, helping you learn from the cycles and stages of your life. Be part of CDS’s first ever webinar series and learn how to apply creative storywork in lifelong learning in diverse fields: community arts, expressive and healing therapies, education, and more. Read more.
- Capturing Value asks, how do we capture the full value of work for the public good? How do we share it with people who can’t experience it directly? It’s a perpetual challenge for grantmakers and recipients to capture and convey the value of their work. Metrics can help, which is why so much focused attention has gone to finding the best indicators and the best ways to share them. But are more and more refined metrics actually translating into significant improvement in awareness and investment in work for the public good? It seems that numbers alone won’t do it. The answer has to be story. Read more.
- All Together Now uses two generations’ stories about lifting their voices in community. When did you first step out of silence to share your story about what matters most? CDS’s partners in this pilot will link you to issues and causes that touch your lives and hearts. Read more.
- The Learning Awareness Project asks how many random shootings, hate crimes, and bullying episodes we need before we change the story? Imagine doing it in this generation, with kids learning from their peers how to recognize and release the reactivity built into our brains and bodies. Read more.
- The Desire Paths pilot asks how things would be different if people’s histories, feelings, and connections to the land figured into planning and public decisions. We get hung up on jobs versus environment, when we need both. This pilot builds an interactive map-based repository of wisdom stories for activists, planners, and public bodies, linked to resources for citizen action. Read more.
- We are inspired to act by others like ourselves. How would your organization, company, campus, or community be different if people could instantly access stories like yours as a bridge to their own volunteering and giving? That’s CDS’s SharedTime project. Read more.
- Violence is transmitted between generations; change that story and you change the world. Imagine every father teaching his son to respect himself and others. Fathers & Sons, Pathways to Change aims to end the cycle of violence with pilots in Brazil, Nepal, South Africa, and the United States. Read more.
CDS has supported its past work almost entirely through fees and contracts. We are coming to you now because this is an exceptional opportunity to innovate, and innovation needs investment. Please make a tax-deductible donation to support the planning, partnership, and development work needed to get StoryLab up and running.
Any contribution will help (and if you contribute at least $25, we have some great premiums for you!). If you pledge $250 or more, you will also be able to direct your pledge to your favorite pilot project, and that will help determine which ones should be developed first.