About the project
Since 1999, StoryCenter's Silence Speaks initiative has fostered healing for individuals, solidarity building within communities, and training and advocacy for health and human rights promotion. Through intensive, hands-on participatory media workshops, we support people in sharing first-person narratives in the form of videos, radio pieces, and photo essays. We work with our partners to carry out thoughtful and impactful approaches to story distribution. We've seen that with the support of our highly skilled facilitators, stories by individuals can bring attention to the structural roots of chronic poverty, ill health, and violence, in ways that demand accountability and prompt change at community, institutional, and government levels.
Our collaborative relationships with Silence Speaks partners ensure the design of projects that offer safe, culturally relevant, and meaningful workshop experiences. Where appropriate, we include leadership development activities, hands-on art making, training in photography, and content about specific health and human rights issues. We tailor our approach to accommodate languages, literacies, and technologies in a given setting, with careful attention to the ethics of bringing sensitive audio and visual material into public settings.
Above all, we help our partners share stories in way that create change. Project outputs can include:
- web and social media-ready videos
- customized web presentations
- story collections on playable DVD
- radio productions integrating stories
- print publications, posters, or billboards
- story-based discussion guides and curricular materials
The guiding vision of Silence Speaks is to listen deeply and challenge legacies of voyeurism and media exploitation by ensuring that storytellers, not producers, have primary control over what information is shared and how events and people are portrayed. Since our beginnings, we have led projects in locations around the world, including Australia, Belize, Brazil, Canada, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guatemala, Kenya, Mexico, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Congo (Congo-Brazzaville), South Africa, Tajikistan, and Uganda.
Support Silence Speaks
Silence Speaks draws not only on StoryCenter's extensive history of exploring the relationship between personal narrative and multimedia, but also on an interdisciplinary body of theory and practice in public health, feminist media studies, and human rights promotion ...
Our teaching philosophy is grounded in the popular education technique of starting from where people are. In the Story Circle, we support participants in reflecting on their own memories and life circumstances, as well as on those of others in the group, as a way of building personal connections and solidarity ...
Several qualitative studies of Silence Speaks projects have revealed the positive impacts on workshop participants, of sharing their personal stories. These include improved self-expression, self-efficacy, and agency; technology and literacy skills development; and increased interest in getting involved with education and advocacy work to address social issues ...
We recognize that the ethical considerations arising within each project are unique. The following principles are intended as an evolving set of recommendations for ethical practice in storytelling and participatory media approaches. We invite readers to engage in a dialogue with us about how best to ensure the safety and dignity of storytellers and audiences worldwide ...
Regardless of how it is defined, what is clear is that trauma can have lasting emotional and physical effects on individuals and entire communities. Our experience over the years has helped us clarify why it can be valuable for a person who has experienced trauma to participate in one of our workshops and when storytelling may not be beneficial ...
View Silence Speaks projects from around the world.