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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.

Your First Microphone: A Review of ATR2100 – by Ryan Trauman

Ary Smith

Between our voices and our digital stories, there is a microphone. It’s important to get it right. If you are someone just getting your bearings as a digital storyteller, or someone who needs to buy several mics for a group of storytellers, you’ll certainly want to consider the Audio-Technica ATR2100. Not only does it sound great, but it’s also inexpensive, durable, and easy to use.

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Turn Toward What You Deeply Love – by Joe Lambert

Ary Smith

Berkeley is the kind of place where you find little surprises.  As you climb down the hill from Hinkel Park in the Berkeley Hills, you may find yourself on one of the many paths that connect the streets. On the Yosemite steps there’s a wall of poems. On a walk in late January, well before dawn, I came across this poem, illuminated by the less-than-romantic light of my iPhone.

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All Together Now: Featured on Upworthy

Ary Smith

Today is Martin Luther King Day. Fifty years ago, the Civil Rights Movement changed laws and minds, securing basic rights for many, through the actions of people who did what they knew to be right. At StoryCenter, we’ve been running a project called All Together Now, collecting intergenerational stories of civil and human rights from around the country.  Dr. King dreamed about a day when we would recognize each other by “the content of our character,” and storytelling allows us to do this – stories help us find out who we really are.

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I Too Dream an American Dream – by Eugenia Gardner

Ary Smith

My family’s history and active involvement in the Civil Rights movement began four generations ago in Selma, Alabama where my great-grandparents and their children tended cotton fields. As a child, I heard their intergenerational stories about sharecropping, Jim Crowism, and “Daddy King” around the dinner table. My grandmother, who recently turned 92, participated in the Bloody Sunday March with John Lewis and Dr. King. In the 1970s, when Shirley Chisholm ran for president, years before there was Hilary Clinton, my mother and Ms. Shirley took me with them to voter registration events every Saturday. I don’t think I knew what voting was, but I knew Dr. King had given up his life for my right to vote. I also knew that Dr. King and his fight for black civil rights would, in many ways, define me.

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To Stand Now Is to Tell Our Stories – by Tommy Orange

Ary Smith

I’ve been so excited about the good work being done through the All Together Now workshops across the country. Thinking back, I can’t really say I’ve had an opportunity – or I haven’t seen it ­– to take a stand, and to engage in the necessary civil disobedience required to go against the American grain. Even if it’s “only” telling our stories. If telling our stories is subversive to an ultimately damaging master narrative, then let our voices be like a march, and let them be heard by as many people as possible.

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Stand Up Now: All Together Now – by Daniel Weinshenker

Ary Smith

I grew up in Palo Alto in the '70s and '80s. I think there were three students out of a graduating class of 300 that weren't going to a 4-year college. I'm not sure I knew a single person who was joining the military. There was one publicly known homeless resident in the town, whom nobody actually believed was homeless (word around town was that he was a writer doing research for his next novel). And there were maybe ten African Americans in my entire high school. 

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Breaking Down Walls: All Together Now Civil and Human Rights – by Arlene Goldbard

Ary Smith

“I got very emotional when I read my story aloud in the first story circle before the recording. Probably it’s because November was the month when Esther passed away; this is the fifth anniversary of her death. When I said that line about the anniversary of her death, I just broke. I felt so vulnerable because I was embarrassed and then Mr. Westmoreland said, ‘Just breathe.’ That was when I was able to actually sit up and continue to read the rest of what I had written. Then when I actually did the recording, I didn’t cry. I started to get choked up toward the end, and I got choked up when Eugenia played it back. But when I actually recorded it, I didn’t cry. I’ll never forget that, when Mr. Westmoreland just said, ‘Breathe.’"

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The Point of Storytelling : All Together Now Civil and Human Rights – by Arlene Goldbard

Ary Smith

“When I told my story in our small breakout session, I got the whole point of storytelling. It’s a way to initiate conversation. That’s when other folks were asking me, ‘How is your brother a U.S. citizen, but you’re undocumented? How come your parents didn’t do it this way or that way?’ That’s when you actually sit down and have the conversation about this is how our legal system works. For example, my mother had her work sponsorship from 2001, and it wasn’t until like last year that her appeal for residency was even taken into consideration. That’s when you can talk about the 10-year backlog in our current immigration system. You can talk about what it’s like to be a youth living through that with no control of the matter. But it’s that initial storytelling that opens up that conversation.”

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Not Feeling Alone: The Power of Storytelling in Uganda – by Carrie Ngongo and Simon Ndizeye

Ary Smith

Imagine feeling ashamed because you perpetually smell of urine or stool. Imagine mourning your stillborn baby – a baby that died because it was stuck in the birth canal and was not delivered by cesarean section in time. Imagine traveling for hours or days to reach a hospital, hoping that a doctor will be able to surgically restore your continence, which is caused by a condition called obstetric fistula. And then imagine that while you wait for your surgery date to come, you are invited to watch short videos telling the stories of women who have endured exactly the same thing as you have.

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The Story of The Rich Coast Project – By Katie Beck

Ary Smith

Unlike most law school students nearing the end of what can be a less than enjoyable experience, I spent my final semester living and working in the southern Caribbean region of Costa Rica. This experience was life-changing and led to the establishment of The Rich Coast Project, a community storytelling and collective history project aimed at supporting and protecting the cultural heritage of coastal Afro-Caribbean populations and other communities living along Costa Rica’s Talamanca coast.

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A Richer Harvest: The “I-in-Relation” of Digital Storytelling – by Kayann Short

Ary Smith

I recently published A Bushel’s Worth: An Ecobiography, a memoir of reunion with my family’s farming traditions and a call for local farmland preservation. In the book, I alternate stories about small-scale, organic farming at Stonebridge Farm, our community-supported farm along Colorado’s Front Range, with childhood memories of my grandparents’ farms in North Dakota.

Many of the chapters in the book began as digital stories. For example, “Seeds of Never Seen Dreams” was based on a digital story I wrote about my Great-Grandma Flora, a teacher and farmer on the North Dakota prairie, and the ways I see my own life reflected in hers. The first chapter, “A Trace of Rural Roots,” began as my very first digital story, made in a Denver workshop in 2006. I had never seen a digital story before I took that workshop and had intended to write about something other than the North Dakota farms, but when I looked at childhood photos in preparation for the workshop, my heart was drawn to images of summer vacations there.

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Colorado Public Television 12 First Annual Independent Media Award Luncheon

Ary Smith

The CPT12 Independent Media Award honors people in our community who cultivate independent expression. The 2013 award will be presented to Daniel Weinshenker, Director of the Rocky Mountain Region Office of the Center for Digital Storytelling.

Please join us for this inaugural event. Featured speakers will include Jon Caldara of The Devils Advocate, Tamara Banks of Studio 12, Dominic Dezzutti of Colorado Inside Out, CPT12 Director of Development Shari Bernson, and CPT12 Interim GM/COO Kim Johnson.

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A Southern Boy: All Together Now Civil and Human Rights – by Arlene Goldbard

Ary Smith

“I'm a Southern boy. I was born in Alabama. My dad was from Mississippi. This was in the Twenties and Thirties, and I grew up in an extremely segregated society. I ended up clearly outside—far beyond—the racial rage I was raised in as a child. I gave that up. There was something obscene about it.”

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The Artists’ Side: All Together Now Civil and Human Rights – by Arlene Goldbard

Ary Smith

“The March on Washington: I remember my parents being very afraid for me to go. You know, thinking something was going to happen. I was kind of afraid too, but I knew that I had to do this, that it didn't matter whether I lived or died. I was going to go peaceably. I wasn't trying to fight. I wasn't going to get arrested, but I wanted to be there.”

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Day 8 of the 11 Days of Action: Nombasa's Story

Ary Smith

Today is Day 8 of the 11 Days of Action leading up to International Day of the Girl on October 11. This youth-led movement to advocate for girls' rights and speak out against gender bias was recognized by the United Nations General Assembly in 2011 when it adopted Resolution 66/170. This year's theme is "Innovating for Girls' Education."  In honor of this movement, and in celebration of girls everywhere, we share this story.

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Day 7 of the 11 Days of Action: Opening Doors, by Tahira Hussain

Ary Smith

Today is Day 7 of the 11 Days of Action leading up to International Day of the Girl on October 11. This youth-led movement to advocate for girls' rights and speak out against gender bias was recognized by the United Nations General Assembly in 2011 when it adopted Resolution 66/170. This year's theme is "Innovating for Girls' Education."

In honor of this movement, and in celebration of girls everywhere, we share this story.

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Join us in celebrating the 11 Days of Action

Ary Smith

Today is Day 4 of the 11 Days of Action leading up to International Day of the Girl on October 11. This youth-led movement to advocate for girls' rights and speak out against gender bias was recognized by the United Nations General Assembly in 2011 when it adopted Resolution 66/170. This year's theme is "Innovating for Girls' Education."

In honor of this movement, and in celebration of girls everywhere, we share this story.

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Meet Them Where They Are: All Together Now Civil and Human Rights – by Arlene Goldbard

Ary Smith

Our All Together Now series of free civil and human rights Storied Session workshops is about bringing generations together to learn from each other what it means to stand for our rights. But it can be a challenge to make that learning reciprocal: how do you ensure that each generation feels equally welcome to listen deeply and speak truly? How can elders learn from youngers and vice versa?

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Nobody Ever Asked: All Together Now Civil and Human Rights – by Arlene Goldbard

Ary Smith

Philadelphia is a long way from Elizabeth City, North Carolina, but Lisa Haynes was thrilled to make the trip this past weekend to co-facilitate the very first half-day Storied Session in our free All Together Now series of civil and human rights workshops.

To the contrary, Lisa knows how important it is to bring the generations together for these groundbreaking conversations. “The stories that were around that table,” said Lisa, “we could have been there for four days getting very significant, rich stories about their experience in Elizabeth City dealing with racism and the civil rights movement. There is such a need to talk and have exchanges. It's just so unbelievable to me how deep the well is. The older people were like, ‘Oh, I can't wait to give this website to my grandchild so they can see.’ That's what they all wanted. The younger people left that workshop that much more empowered, understanding the history of this, that this is not the first time these challenges have happened. You can't discount that sort of exchange.”

 

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