I’m happily immersed in my new work helping communities with digital expression, right now through several projects involving storytelling in and by and for small communities, using digital tools and collaborative Web practices. I’m also making good progress (with my fabulous cohorts) on making The Centers for Community Digital Expression a reality–more on that soon!
This afternoon, I return to Middlebury College briefly to teach a three-hour workshop for an Environmental Studies course (running on WPMU blogs!) in capturing the stories of a small county town. I am delighted to be a part of this course as it exemplifies the kind of learning through doing, through participating in local communities, and through a mix of online communication and in-person experience. I look forward to following their work. Here’s the course description from the catalog:
ENVS 0350 Portrait of a Vermont Town (CW) (Fall)
In this course we will record, reflect upon, and present the stories of one Addison County town. Students will talk with a diverse range of local residents about their memories, choices, hopes, and anxieties related to the place in which they live. We will offer an intensive experience of interviewing, writing, and videography, and will also count both as an intermediate-level writing workshop in nonfiction and as a cognate for the Environmental Studies major. This workshop will be enriched by a close affiliation with current programs of the Orton Family Foundation and the Vermont Land Trust that are dedicated to celebrating the stories of community. These two outstanding organizations will work with us in indentifying the town on which to focus, in helping students gain significant access to its residents and institutions, and in planning a final series of public presentations. The exact nature of presentations and publications coming out of the course will be determined in the course of the semester. NOR (J. Elder)
… and below, the outline and some links from the workshop (I WILL BE UPDATING THESE LINKS ON OCCASION)
STORIES FOR A VERMONT TOWN ENVS 350
A Workshop with Barbara Ganley & Joe Antonioli
—Blogging as Reflection
—Blogging as Creative Cauldron
—Blogging as Connection
See Flickr Slide Set
2. Ways to “Publish” your Stories
Do you want these stories to be interactive? How? Why? will you collaborate on the stories with the townspeople? Who is your audience–the class, the town, the world, all of these?
How do we learn to “read” our materials and be willing to change our minds to serve those materials and the stories best? In other words, how much to we control the story, and how much does it control us?
* The Power of the Written Story What kinds of stories seek text alone?
* Digital Stories–the power of the medium, the peril of the medium (Student Examples on DVD–I’ll put links here soon)
* The Power of the Voice (Listen to Logan–on DVD)
* The Power of the Image (Flickr Set Exercise )
—Oral histories (podcasts, etc. Vermont Folklife Center will help with this medium, so I won’t)
—Audio-Image/ Text-Image Stories (Soundslides and Slideshare, Flickr and Picnik, Flickr Notes) Exercise in pairs: Telling a Story in Five Flickr Images (lessons in searching, in associations, in color, in transitions, in story arc, in what images convey easily and not so easily; Exercise in telling a story dominated by image, punctuated by text using the same five Flickr images as before, this time manipulating the images in picnik and writing on them)
—Multimedia Stories (video editing possibilities, looking at a simple documentary and digital stories)
THE ROLE OF STORYTELLING
Storyboarding from Berkeley’s Knight Media Center
The University of Minnesota has done excellent work both in digital storytelling and in facilitation
Here’s an example of ways to curate the stories from ACMI Museum in Melbourne, Australia
An example of a way to screen stories that include letters, old pictures, scrapbooks
City of Memory Project in New York City (StoryCorps)
Place Stories in Australia Software and Server hosting stories combined into on
The Elder Storytelling Place (Ronni Bennett is from Portland, Maine)
Listen UP! ” a youth media network that connects young video producers
and their allies to resources, support, and projects in order to develop
the field and achieve an authentic youth voice in the mass media.”
Touching Hearts Stories (narrative made up of several individual stories–note the simple use of image, sound and text)
360 Degrees Perspective on the U.S. Criminal Justice System: Background, Timeline, Stories and Discussion
NYT Project: Race in America site
ArtMobs Tours of MOMA
Murmur Project A Whole New Way to Tell and Hear Stories
Museum of the Person Digital Stories
Maps and Stories
Mapping the stories using Wayfaring
Videoediting on Jumpcut
Moviestorm Making Animated Movies
Digital Storytelling Early Process: Choices and Gathering Material*
Write a one-hundred to two-hundred word draft of a narrative. (Topics shift course to course.) As eventually you will be reading this narrative aloud in a voiceover, it is important to consider the following questions:
Where is the dramatic moment—the actual moment in time when something momentous occurs?
What does this story reveal about the topic?
Why is it necessary to tell this story in this course?
Do you open by grabbing the reader’s interest in hearing this story?
Do you end in a way that suits your objective?
Write the three-sentence version of narrative:
Sentence 1- Beginning:
Sentence 2- Middle:
How do your sentences work individually and with one another to create a flow?
How does meaning build because you are reading it aloud?
How will you use your voice? How do timbre, speed and modulation affect the meaning? Practice different ways of reading your script. Record and listen to yourself.
How might images and soundtrack pull their weight and not act as appendages; in other words, why can’t this story be a radio story?
Consider what kinds of images will help tell the story: literal or metaphorical, concrete or abstract, long-shot and close-up, color or not, and how the images will move from one to the next, considering how an image is “a peculiar and paradoxical creature both concrete and abstract,” (W. J. Thomas Mitchell (2005) What Do Pictures Want?: The Lives and Loves of Images, University of Chicago Press p. xvii) and experiencing scholar Craig Stroupe’s “visualizing English.” (“Visualizing English: Recognizing the Hybrid Literacy of Visual and Verbal Authorship on the Web.” College English May 2000. Reprinted in Visual Rhetoric in a Digital World: A Critical Sourcebook . Ed. Carolyn Handa. Boston : Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2004. 13-37.)
Gather 10-30 images you might use, being mindful of copyright restrictions.
Questions to ask:
Why these images?
How do they contribute to meaning rather than look pretty?
How do they work individually and together?
How do they carry the story’s drama?
Write the three-sentence version of the visual narrative:
Sentence 1- Beginning:
Sentence 2- Middle:
How are you keeping in mind what Ron Burnett says: “In a general sense, the meaning of a photograph depends on the discursive efforts I put into it and on the tensions between my own interpretation and that of other viewers. This is at least one part of the creativity and tension of viewing, which encourages the development of a variety of different vantage points as well as contestation around the meaning of images.” (Ron Burnett (2005) How Images Think, M.I.T Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, p.14)
Consider the audio elements, how you will use your voice and/or the voices of others, and how non-vocal sounds might interact with voice. Consider whether you want to include a music soundtrack or ambient sound. If so, what kind of music would help tell the story? What role does the music play? Try out several very different kinds of soundtracks that create contrasting moods and tones.
Write the three-sentence version of the sound narrative:
Sentence 1- Beginning:
Sentence 2- Middle:
Storyboard the digital story, exploring the repercussions not only of pushing image against image, word against word, and sound against sound, but image against sound against word. Think about the way someone “reads” a digital story: “Because users can click on a video clip, turn it off by closing the window, replay it, or skip forward or backward in the narrative, the use of video becomes a dialogically fraught element: it enhances, disrupts, complexifies the notion of narration itself.” (Helen Burgess, Jeanne Hamming, Robert Markley “The Dialogics of New Media,” in (eds) (2003) Mary E. Hocks, Michelle R. Kendrick Eloquent Images: Word and Image in the Age of New Media MIT Press, Cambridge, MA p. 75.)
* Excerpted from a chapter on digital storytelling I’ve written fro a forthcoming anthology.