About the project
Since 1999, StoryCenter's Silence Speaks initiative has fostered healing for individuals, solidarity building within communities, and training and advocacy for public health and human rights promotion. Through intensive, hands-on participatory media workshops, we support people in sharing first-person stories from their own lives, 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. Our efforts have shown that with the support of our highly skilled facilitators, stories by individuals can bring attention to the structural roots of poverty, gender oppression, and violence, in ways that demand accountability and change at community, institutional, and government levels.
Silence Speaks collaborates closely with partners to 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 in the workshop curriculum. 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 viewing environments.
Above all, we help our partners share stories in ways that create change. Project outputs can include:
- web and social media-ready videos
- customized web presentations of stories
- radio or podcast productions integrating stories
- print publications or billboards featuring story content
- story-based discussion guides and curricular materials
- story collections on playable DVD
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 more than 25 storytelling and participatory media 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.
Looking for more information about StoryCenter's work on gender-based violence and human rights? Find project updates on our Silence Speaks Facebook page.
Silence SpeakS Story compilations & guides
Silence Speaks draws not only on StoryCenter's extensive history of exploring the relationship between personal stories 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 a 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. Our ethics 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 someone who has experienced trauma to participate in one of our workshops and when storytelling may not be beneficial ...