Mar 112019

I facilitate digital storytelling. Here’s how I describe it …

Digital storytelling is a form of story work – personal stories told in first-person voice. It uses a group process, bringing small groups of people together in workshops to develop these stories.

Digital stories are short (two to four minute) first-person video narratives. With help, participants write their story (roughly 300 words) and record themselves telling the story. They combine the voiceover with photos; some add video clips, artwork and music or other sound. Each participant creates their own story, in their own voice.

I was trained by Community Story Strategies and Story Center, organizations with a social justice orientation.

Social justice organizations use digital storytelling in many ways: member education, leadership development and team building. They might use members’ personal stories (with permission) to educate others, recruit new activists and motivate people to take action. The organizers of a project choose the theme, participants and approach based on community strengths and needs.

Unions are getting back to their roots with storytelling; digital storytelling adds visual and digital elements. Digital storytelling workshops help members reflect on an issue, deepen their analysis and learn how to hone stories for organizing, media, presentations and other forms of communication. Bargaining and other campaign teams use digital storytelling to deepen trust, teamwork and mutual commitment.

The ethics and process of digital storytelling, like any participatory media, are super important. See ethical guidelines here and process here.

Below are examples of stories produced in a digital storytelling workshop – specifically, ones that emphasize collective action for social change.

No More Waiting – by Clarissa Doutherd

Clarissa’s story was created in a workshop organized by the Women’s Policy Institute of California and facilitated by StoryCenter. WPI trains women leaders of grassroots organizations in the areas of child care, criminal justice, environmental justice, reproductive justice, and trauma justice. Their graduates have been leaders in 29 legislative wins, including the Domestic Worker Bill of Rights.

Clarissa’s organization, Parent Voices California, has also made important gains over its 20 years, including public funding for non-profit child care, and they’re part of a coalition that won paid sick days and fair scheduling regulation.

Here are some more digital stories produced in a three-day workshop, these ones led by Community Story Strategies in Toronto:

How to Connect – by Leona

Healing Beat – by Lynn

I’ve produced a few digital stories of my own, most recently here.

  One Response to “What is digital storytelling?”

  1. Such a good read! Digital storytelling isn’t just a video featuring a person talking about something. But this is what most of the people think it is. Digital storytelling isn’t something every other person can do. It’s like an art.

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