Mission & Vision
We surface authentic voices around the world through group process and participatory media creation. Our programs support people in sharing and bearing witness to stories that lead to learning, action, and positive change.
What We Do
For nearly twenty years, the Center has been supporting people in sharing meaningful stories from their lives. Our unique workshops assist participants in producing short, first-person narratives that can be presented in a variety of traditional and social media formats. We provide non-threatening production environments in which the process of creation is valued as much as the stories created.
Through partnerships with a range of organizations, institutions, and funders, we offer story making and story distribution services that prioritize the power of individual voices. Whether you're interested in storytelling for professional development, as a reflective practice, as a pedagogical strategy, or as a vehicle for education, community mobilization, or advocacy, we are recognized globally as experts in all things digital storytelling. The following values are central to our work ...
Everyone has many stories to tell.
The ritual of sharing insights about life can be immensely valuable both to those who speak and those who bear witness. People who believe they are mundane, uninteresting, or unmemorable possess beneath this mask a vivid, complex, and rich body of stories just waiting to be told.
Listening is hard.
Most people are either too distracted, or too impatient, to be really good listeners. In some parts of the world, this has resulted in a profusion of individuals who get paid to do the emotional labor of listening – researchers, therapists, social workers, etc. Yet anyone can learn to listen deeply. When they do, they create space for the storyteller to journey into the heart of the matter at hand.
People see, hear, and perceive the world in different ways.
This means that the forms and approaches they take to telling stories are also very different. There is no formula for making a great story – no prescription or template. Providing a map, illuminating the possibilities, outlining a framework – these are better metaphors for how one can assist others in crafting a narrative.
Creative activity is human activity.
From birth, people around the world make music, draw, dance, and tell stories. As they grow to adulthood, they often internalize the message that producing art requires a special and innate gift, tendency, or skill. Sadly, most people simply give up and never return to creative practice. Confronting this sense of inadequacy and encouraging people in artistic self-expression can inspire individual and community transformation.
Technology is a powerful instrument of creativity.
Many people blame themselves for their lack of technological savvy, instead of recognizing the complexity of the tools and acknowledging that access and training are often in short supply. But new media and digital video technologies will not in and of themselves make a better world. Developing thoughtful, participatory approaches to how and why these technologies are being used is essential.
Sharing stories can lead to positive change.
Personal narratives can touch viewers deeply, moving them to reflect on their own experiences, modify their behavior, treat others with greater compassion, speak out about injustice, and become involved in civic and political life. Whether online, in social media or local communities, or at the institutional/policy level, the sharing of stories has the power to make a real difference.
Read about our Core Principles for Ethical Practice in Digital Storytelling.
There are many techniques of storytelling around, but the digital storytelling method espoused by the Center for Digital Storytelling is the most engaging, rewarding, and cathartic process I have experienced, and seen others experience. And the most amazing part is, it all happens within a few days, and you have a solid piece of work to show at the end. It's a wonderfully versatile method that leaves participants and organizers with a great sense of fulfillment.
- Sameera Huque, Custom Workshop participant