Tuesday’s Stories: Examples from the Field

withinToday I launch a new weekly post, Tuesday’s Stories: Examples From the Field, to highlight community storytelling projects of all sorts that I come across in my travels online and in the physical world. These projects inspire or teach, surprise or delight–they remind me to reflect on the hows and whys of storytelling while encouraging me to make connections between what I’m trying to do and what others are already exploring. I post most of these links on Twitter and delicious, but I hope that gathering them here will also prove useful for readers and lead me to more examples of fine community storytelling.  Please let me know if you come across intriguing storytelling projects!

Project Aspect

Project Aspect, UK

From their website: “Project ASPECT was born from a more general search for new communication tools to help the wider public engage with important but inaccessible issues. In particular, the project considers the complex issue of climate change.

ASPECT recognises that to date, climate change communication has engaged a narrow audience and stimulated a limited public dialogue. As a result, ASPECT explores how the wider public might connect to the climate change discussion through digital storytelling.”

I like that they are trying to reach the wider public using digital storytelling–not so easy to do since DS can be time-consuming and skill-intensive. I’m interested in seeing how they will use those stories not just online but in the actual places described, bringing people together to discuss, plan, and act.  One shortcoming I’ve seen in many storytelling projects is a tendency to get all excited about the process of creating the stories just to have them languish on a static website once the telling is captured.  I’ll be following their work to see how they use the process of digital storytelling and then the stories themselves to stimulate dialogue and move to action.

Living Flood Histories

Living Flood Histories:  Learning to Live with Water: Flood Histories, Environmental Change, Remembrance and Resilience, UK

From the website, some of their goals:

–To explore how memories, archives and mnemonic practices surrounding extreme and casual flooding, awareness of flood/watery heritage, local/lay/informal knowledge of 18th-21st century floods have been and are experienced, remembered, materialised, formalised and enhanced in UK lowland/wetland floodplain communities. The idea here is that the deep, time-rich and embodied practice of coping with water in and on the landscape is one that can be both shared and materialised in the ‘waterscape’.

–To research the changing and potential role of different creative practices – including flood marking, oral history, creative writing, local archives, websites, local history writing, storytelling/digital storytelling, reminiscence theatre, performance arts, digital archiving, social networking, and photography/film making, singing, song writing – have in developing knowledge about flood histories and environmental change which may help local communities live with(in) watery landscapes in an emotionally and practically resilient way.

What I admire about this research and network-building project is its embrace of stories and creative practices as means of supporting recovery and of providing lessons for the future–stories as action.  That they are collaborating across sectors (government, university, community activist) is exciting–imagine!  I look forward to watching their work for general insights into using storytelling to build a better future and for particular ideas for helping Vermont in its recovery efforts from Hurricane Irene. (See Vermont Folklife Center for their work at assisting communities to capture flood stories.)

Mapping Our Voices for Equality

Mapping Our Voices for Equality, Seattle

From the website:

“Mapping our Voices for Equality (MOVE) is a grassroots strategy using new media tools to promote health equity in King County. MOVE features on-going changes that improve healthy eating and physical activity and create tobacco-free environments in King County.  This website showcases over seventy-five multilingual digital stories produced by community members and a local map that illustrates policy changes that are improving health.”

I’m a big fan of Tasha Freidus and her community storytelling work at Creative Narrations, especially her efforts at using storytelling to improve community health.  This is her latest project, and it’s a great example of how simple maps and stories can be used to share experience and knowledge while building community. It goes beyond creating and capturing stories.  Public health activists have been among the first and most effective storytellers to lasso the power of the digital in their communities.  See Pip Hardy and Patient Voices in the UK, Amy Hill’s Silence Speaks and the Center for Digital Storytelling for outstanding examples of storytelling and public health. Take a look, too, at ShotByShot.

15 Second Place

15 Second Place, Australia

From the website:

“Around the corner, up the street, down the lane. We invite you to capture the mood of where you are in 15 seconds of video.
Share your experience with others to create new stories about where you live. Record your perspective on different places, track the same place at different times, or in different seasons. No one experiences places in the same way. Any one location can have many moods, many stories. Armed with a hand-held device, you can become diarist, reporter and documenter contributing over time to the collective online experience of place.”

I’m also a big fan of ACMI (Australian Centre of the Moving Image) and their early work with digital storytelling and place.  This new project looks like a lot of fun, promises to bring in a wide range of voice and perspective, and can serve as a model of the sort of project many communities can try out as they explore the spirit of place and people.  Murmur-type embedded oral history projects have caught on in many locations–how about short, minimally smart-phone videos?

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