The stories shared in the workshop break with dominant stereotypes that cast Muslims in a dark and dangerous light—showing instead the extraordinary successes, in spite of their struggles, of ordinary Muslim New Yorkers who shine in their respective professions.
In early September, we began exploring digital storytelling as a way to investigate the role of creative process in conflict transformation. We began with an ancient practice: sitting in a circle telling stories. We listened “inside” and “between” the stories for emerging futures that the storyteller was hungry for.
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.
The storytelling process is not one that I had explored before with this group of colleagues, and we moved through our stories together -- first by sharing them out loud, giving them our voices, and then by creating and crafting the digital stories. Our stories centered on the broad theme of social justice and yet, they were very personal, real, clear, relatable. These were smaller acts of justice given voice by a group of nurses.
When a last minute cancellation created an opening, I found my role transformed from organizer to participant, requiring me to become vulnerable, too. I discovered StoryCenter’s process of guiding storytellers to find their “ah-ha” moment, as an art form. Common threads bound each unique story, and the bonds between participants were deepened.
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.
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.
I was fed a steady diet of stories as a child, and I became them. Many were about my mother’s childhood. She emigrated from Liverpool, England in the sixties and married an American, so daughter of an immigrant has always been one of the ways I defined myself. Like her, I talked funny, held a fork differently, and felt like a stranger.
We sat around a table, shared our stories, comforted each other, and got it out in the open. We talked about our own naked truth -- stuff that some people in society could care less about, until it happens to them. The best part is, I met people like me who have hepatitis B or knew someone who had it.
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."
Last April, StoryCenter collaborated with the Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM) and the Boys and Girls Club of San Francisco on a digital storytelling workshop with a group of immigrant and refugee youth attending Mission High School in San Francisco. These young people had been organizing an all high school youth-led social justice leadership project over a period of 12 months with support from their adult allies.
I went to my first StoryCenter digital storytelling workshop in August of 2014, at the old Lighthouse Writers Building in Denver. It was a summer I will not soon forget. I’d just learned of my sister’s diagnosis of stage four lung cancer, the same disease that had claimed my mother’s life barely a year before.
No big deal, I thought. As a historian, I pretty much write and tell stories for a living.
But then the story specialists at StoryCenter taught the other institute participants and I *how* to write a script for digital storytelling, and I began eyeing the door. Not because it was too big or difficult, but because it was so small and succinct. How was I going to tell a full story worth hearing in fewer than 250 words? I've probably written longer sentences than that!
A group of adolescents gathered at the downtown Nashville Public Library last week for a three-day Digital Storytelling Workshop to learn how to write, edit and produce a video about managing their type 1 diabetes.
The project is part of research by Shelagh Mulvaney, Ph.D., associate professor of Nursing, and her team into the design, development and testing of a Web and mobile phone-based self-care support system for this population.
New Public Health Webinar Series For many years, the StoryCenter has been supporting researchers and community practitioners as they explore how storytelling can enhance public health promotion. This year, we share some of our best public health strategies through a series of new, two-hour webinars.
Stories for Food Justice We at StoryCenter are excited to share a beautiful set of academic and community stories about paths to food justice, created through a collaboration with the United States Department of Agriculture-funded Food Dignity project.
Seeding New Conversations about Sexual and Reproductive Health … in the United States and Abroad Have you wondered when young people’s stories and voices will be taken seriously, when it comes to public conversations about sexual and reproductive health?
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.”
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.”
"My story is not something I try to forget. It would be especially hard because I have written many papers and spoken at many different events about my story. That is why I was so excited to have another opportunity to share it - because spreading awareness of the issue is a passion of mine. When creating my digital story about my incident with sexual assault, I didn’t realize how many details from that night I had tried to block out of my mind. The process brought flashback after flashback from that night. I do have to say that even though the process was a difficult for me emotionally, I definitely enjoyed the process. Seeing a finished product of me telling my story in a way I never had before was somewhat relieving. Now I can continue my healing process knowing that other people can now truly understand what that night was like from my perspective, and how the small details can make such a huge impact on a survivor’s life."
April is Sexual Assault Awareness month. StoryCenter is currently recognizing the importance of speaking out about rape and abuse by sharing new and archived pieces from our blog. Today, MA candidate Marit Erdal shares her work on the power of story to prevent violence against women.
Grandpa Doug died a few weeks ago. He wasn’t my grandpa. He was my neighborhood’s grandpa. Always at the local elementary school being a handyman or there with his camera documenting the talent shows, the art exhibits, whatever was going on . . . even in the classes that his granddaughter wasn’t in.
We got to talking . . . and he started inviting me over for coffee. He was a coffee connoisseur, but not the kind that was snobby. He just knew a lot about it. I sheepishly asked for cream because I had heard that “real” coffee drinkers didn’t do that. He brought me cream. Happily. And we’d talk. We’d listen.