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STORYCENTER Blog

We are pleased to present posts by StoryCenter staff, storytellers, colleagues from partnering organizations, and thought leaders in Storywork and related fields.

Filtering by Category: Voices from Around the Table

StoryCenter Board Spotlight: Dr. Nikki Yeboah Shares Her Story

Root Barrett

In this world of big data and "hard" science, we lose sight of the power of a story. Stories have the power to move us, persuade us and most importantly, connect us to worlds and people beyond ourselves. As a theatre maker, I've been telling stories on stage for the last eight years, and teaching students to tell their stories for six. I've seen the impact it can have not just on the audience but on the storyteller as well.

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Publishing Digital Stories:  A Project Review and Call for Submissions

Amy Hill

The project involved reviewing and selecting a corpus of digital stories to be included in Aquifer. The purpose of the assignment was to help students understand the practice of storytelling by applying their knowledge of the seven steps of digital storytelling outlined by Joe Lambert to the solicitation and selection of digital stories; gain experience applying knowledge of major themes in Web 2.0 storytelling to the presentation of digital stories online; and critically engage with scholarly debates surrounding vernacular creativity, digital story curation, and assessment of digital storytelling in educational practice.

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StoryCenter Board Spotlight: Reflections From Nina Shapiro-Perl

Amy Hill

Such is the power of digital storytelling– to help people see and hear each other, across the social divides of social class, race, gender, sexual orientation, neighborhood, and religion. As participants and facilitators, we are opened to the lives and experiences of others. And we are made tender in the process.

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Digital Storytelling, Or Why Technology Has Ruined Everything

Amy Hill

Anxiety about technology has a long-documented history. Plato thought the act of writing was a step backward for truth. Martin Luther decried the first bound books. Leo Tolstoy criticized the printing press. The New York Times claimed that the telephone would turn us into transparent heaps of jelly. The radio was a menace; the cinema was a fad; the computer had no market; and the television was nothing more than a plywood box. The backlash is persistent.

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Challenging Stigma Online: The Impact of Being Forever Known for Your Private Tale – by Aspen Baker, Founder & Executive Director, Exhale

Root Barrett

We don't always want to be known for the most vulnerable or emotional story of our lives. New York Times best-selling author of How to Be Black, Baratunde Thurston, once asked his live audience not to tweet or record his telling of a personal story at a public venue because he's "not interested in that story blowing up and getting lots of YouTube hits. I'm not interested in being KNOWN for it...the idea of people streaming and live-tweeting and uploading this personal, intimate tale felt like a violation."

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The Trauma of Immigration

Amy Hill

My friend and art therapist, Dr. Paige Asawa, asked me to speak about my family’s immigration story because it represents the "little traumas," or little t’s, that can add up to big T’s, called cumulative trauma. She suggested that my family’s experience was an example of what trauma can look like over a long period time. The goal was for her students to hear the story so that they can better treat immigrant families in the future.

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Critical Conversations: An Interview with Stephanie Perron and Bárbara DaSilva with Sunny Hills Services’ Our Space Program for LGBTQ Youth

Root Barrett

"The young people we worked with were open, raw, honest, self-reflective, and intentional throughout the digital story making process. They showed such kindness and fierce love towards one another as they learned technical video making skills and supported each other in processing feelings related to their stories."

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Sahiyo: Working with Stories to Address Female Genital Cutting (FGC)

Amy Hill

Storytelling moves people to do great things. Our campaigns have allowed women and girls to speak up (both anonymously and with their names), when previously many women and girls have been afraid to do so in public. They feared social ostracism and resisted being labeled as victims. Our work has also allowed men to speak up about their views on FGC.

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Working With Student Stories to Challenge Oppression on Campus: An Interview with Deandra Cadet, Director of InterAction

Root Barrett

I still remember the feelings of inspiration and challenge I had, sitting in the audience of Show Some Skin: The Race Monologues my freshman year at Notre Dame. I was blown away by real, vulnerable, and diverse experiences of students at my own university on race, exclusion, and invisibility. Those stories challenged my own preconceived notions about how racism affects the way we move throughout the world.

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"Gathering Strength" Digital Stories: Immigrant & Refugee Communities Ending Violence

Root Barrett

For four years, the Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence (API-GBV) has been leading the Gathering Strength project (GS), which holds an overarching theme of storytelling as it supports California’s API immigrant and refugee communities in ending violence. In August of 2016, project advisors and participants came together for 2.5 days, to strengthen and expand the GS community, honor and celebrate individual and collective accomplishments, and co-create a bold vision for the next phase of this work.

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Your Voice is Your Creativity: Building Safe Spaces for Creative Expression

Root Barrett

When I was seven years old, I was learning to draw by copying masterpieces. I had such confidence that I truly believed my drawings were superior. I look back on those drawings today and think “What naiveté”… and then I think, “How can I get that back?” How can I reclaim that belief in my ability to be stronger than my fear of how I might appear through others’ eyes?

Fast forward many years, and I’m sitting at my friend’s marathon poetry open mic, listening for five hours straight and never once participating. The entire time, an internal debate about whether I could or couldn’t write poetry ran through my head. I went home that night so frustrated that I chose to settle the argument by writing my first poem. The poem started like this: “You, yes You. Sitting there, just sitting there. I used to be you.” And from that moment on, the debate was over: I would not sit on the sidelines anymore; I would actively participate and learn to express my creativity. This was the start of my journey to what I call “reclaiming creative confidence.”

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Like Roosters - History and Hope at Stonebridge Farm

Root Barrett

“I do not propose to write an ode to dejection, but to brag as lustily as chanticleer in the morning, standing on his roost, if only to wake my neighbors up.”                      
--Thoreau, Walden

On a trip to Cuba a decade ago to research sustainable agriculture, I arrived too late at the guest hostel in the southern, rural part of the island to see much of the hills surrounding us with palm trees in a small valley. I got my chance early the next morning when I was awoken by not one, not two, but what sounded like hundreds of roosters crowing all around me. I dressed quickly and went outside to find that roosters roamed freely in this village, strutting as lustily as Thoreau’s chanticleer. Roosters are undoubtedly more intent on alerting other roosters to their territory than on signaling transformation, but in El Valle del Gallo, as I called this place, I witnessed the power of roosters crowing in unintentional symphony at the dawn of another day.

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StoryCenter and Marie Stopes International: Stories of Sexual Health from Ghana

Root Barrett

Stories created during the five-day workshop were recorded in seven different local languages- a record number of different languages in a single workshop, in the 21-year history of the Center for Digital Storytelling. The young people who participated told personal stories of surviving and thriving in the aftermath of economic hardship, difficult relationships, teenage pregnancy, sexual assault, and sexually transmitted infections. Their powerful stories took shape as short films. The stories offer youth-friendly information, open up sensitive topics, and illustrate the need for improvements in adolescent sexual health services.

For many of the participants, the workshop represented the first time they had ever held a camera. After the group shared their stories, one participant, a No Yawa peer educator, said that even though she was sad to hear what others had spoken of, she was also moved to action. Another said “I am so humbled by all these stories. I always thought I went through the most terrible experience as a young boy until I heard others speak during the workshop. I feel so relieved after sharing my story, and I am happy I have shared it to help other young people.” 

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Sexual Assault Awareness Month: "See That Woman Over There"

Root Barrett

"Ruthie Jordan shares her survivor of sexual assault experience through this compelling short film. She continues to stand for justice on a collective scale for all women – especially for Jini Barnum, a woman who is no longer present to stand and see her own justice transpire. Often times Deaf women are not aware of their rights when such assault occurs. Ruthie has produced this film to ignite hope and inspire courage within her community to stop allowing power play coercion acts to occur and advocate for yourself – YOU are worth it!"

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Sexual Assault Awareness Month: Personal Stories and Policy Education in Nepal

Root Barrett

From the moment I met Bandana Rana in 2008, I sensed that we would work together. She runs SAATHI Nepal, which has for nearly twenty years been challenging violence and injustice against women at all levels of Nepalese society. We talked about the importance of bringing stories told by survivors into human rights dialogues, about the power of visual media, about the possibilities for storytelling in Nepal. It took time, but three years later the vision became a reality, when I traveled this past October to Kathmandu to begin a SAATHI – Silence Speaks Digital Storytelling partnership on the Voices for Justice project.

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Sexual Assault Awareness Month: "Listening . . . And Telling," a story by Elizabeth Ross

Root Barrett

In 2005 I was part of a group who produced stories about the impact of child sexual assault through StoryCenter’s Silence Speaks Initiative. Initially after viewing the stories at the end of the workshop, I felt curiosity and surprise at the immediacy of impact: I felt proud, visible, and necessary – quite different from how I had walked into the Berkeley lab feeling on the first day. What has become clear was that this process of internal re-structuring has continued to this day. Making Listening and Telling was the beginning.

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Sexual Assault Awareness Month: Voices from Around the Table

Root Barrett

It was a weeknight in March, too warm for the time of year. I wore a sweater anyway, because it was windy – wind always makes me feel nervous. I’d met him once before, at a dining hall. When I showed up at the party, he came right over. He was polite, and funny…he got me a beer, we danced…we talked around each other, like we weren’t sure. He kept re-filling my cup…and I kept drinking, like I often did, back then; it took some kind of edge off.

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