Thursday, June 22, 2006


Next Steps?

How do you plan to bring the knowledge you gained at the Gathering back to your own community and/or organization?

Comment to this entry to share your thoughts!

Here's some ideas from the wrap-up discussions around Technical Assistance and Training Next Steps, what we need:

Ways to stay connected online:
- creating a product of best practices, including tools, and a list of resources, distribution techniques, information about copyright (Creative Commons), links to online curriculum materials
- centralized resource with links, tutorials, op ed's; where everyone can focus on the work, discuss in forums or listservs, an event calendar, and a wiki for material development
- geographic workgroups
- also how can we put stories online but have it be interactive and interpersonal connections?
- participation in massIMPACT's strategization around how it can expand digital storytelling in different areas
- collaboratively created portals (small committee to figure this out)
- channel of video content (Broadcast Machine)

Ways to stay connected in real life:
- annual magazine or publication
- anuual conference
- getting stories on cable access stations
- striving to connect to communities that don't have technology access involved
- Mobmov - car projectors; outdoor drive-through
- public spaces for stories such as an exhibit
- mobile production truck (such as John Lennon bus, StoryCorps, Container Project, Museum of People)
- on a local level, weekly/monthly optional meetup
- future conference in locations without a lot of technology infrastructure; and could invite local community activist.


Please join us for the first ever Gathering of Community Digital Storytellers!

Twenty five to forty digital storytelling facilitators from a wide range of communities across the country will come together this June. Participants will connect with one another; share teaching methods, organizing strategies, and approaches to distribution; and begin to identify ways to form collaborative efforts that can take this important work to the next level of impact.

The Gathering is free, but pre-registration is required (see form). Lunch will be provided both days, and travel scholarships are available. For more information, please contact Tasha Freidus at or Amy Hill at


Resources from Gathering Day 2

Stories & Community Engagement:

Neighborhood House - uses peer training

Sociedad Latina
- engages youth as community organizers
- uses stories as a way to train new youth organizers

Barbara Ganley (Middlebury College) - uses blogging as a way to ground digital storytellings in the community of the classroom (and the larger community) and as a real reflective (and self narrative) practice. (Edublogging - talking about education and using blogging to build a community.)

Remy Mansfield (Middlebury Student)
- chronicles his recent travels to Southeast Asia
- utilizes different writing styles and new digital media pieces


Resources from Inclusive Storytelling (Disability) Workshop

Resources and Techniques for Inclusive Storytelling

Resources for content producers includes caption and transcription tools, ASL avatars and accessibility guidelines and checkers. Software for users with special needs includes screen readers, talking browsers and single switch devices.

A. Links for How to Make Websites More Accessible:

- W3C (
- Federal Government (
- Free site checkers that will evaluate Section 508 compliance and offer recommendations for improvements: Bobby(, Watchfire’s Webxact ( and Cynthia Says (
- For site developers there are many for pay and some free software like captioning software Magpie 2 ( from the National Center for Accessible Media.
- The following are the W3C Recommendations from Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 W3C Recommendation 5-May-1999 (currently WCAG 2.0 is being drafted as a revision)

B. Captioning

- 2006 Captioning Key: Guidelines & Preferences
- (very thoroughly documented guidelines for captioning)
- Captioned Media Program
- US Dept of Education, National Association of the Deaf
- (information about captioning, resources)
- Closed Caption Maker
- (a service that will add captioning to your piece)

C. IMS Guidelines for Developing Accessible Learning Applications
- (although this is designed for people developing learning applications, there is lots of good information about accommodations for various disabilities)

Other Resources:

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


Resources from the Gathering Day 1

In an effort to continue sharing resources and knowledge, we're hoping to keep track of the resources and websites referenced in the sessions of this Gathering. So if you have a link to share, email Danielle (danielle.martin at umb dot edu) or comment to this entry!

Opening Session: Making an Impact

Project Think Different

Sites for distribution:
Google Video

Arts Engine - larger organization
Media That Matters Festival - curated social issue media festival; now can see all previous years' films streamed online, with context. - become a member, and you can post movies and get newsletter

Outreach & Impact Worksheet (Coming soon!)
example from Close to Home, Dorchester MA

Concurrent Session: Youth

T.O.L.D's beat making tool: Mad Player
Dean's MOSAIC video blog

Technical Nuts & Bolts

Jen (Bay Area Video Coalition) - Coming Soon: Tech Rec's doc

Christefano - Open Source examples:
Mozilla Firefox - web browser
Red Hat - open operating system on the $100 Laptop
Open Office - alternate to MS Office
Drupal, Civic Space or Plone - website content managment systems
Fantastico - install software on server with easy interface
Dynebolic - to run Linux off a CD for PC's; especially good for old machines (even Pentium 1 with 64MB memory)
Jahshaka - open source real time editor
Ubuntu - most popular Linux distribution

JaModi - Free Software options:
Audacity - audio editing (free)
Windows Movie Maker or iMovie
Tech 4 Learning
Avid Free DV Version
MS Photo Story 3
Garage Band (mac)

Also, keep checking Jamodi's DEG Production video blog ( for how to videos.

DVD Rendering:
Sony DVD Architect 3.0
DVD Studio Pro (mac)
VisualHub - $
Isquint (free) - save to H264

Compression hints:
Dean Gransar's Curriculum (last page)
Quicktime Pro
Current TV Survival Guide
Secrets of Videoblogging (book)

Also check out the Do It Yourself Media Toolkit (by Morgan Sully, CTC VISTA @ The San Diego Community Technology Coalition) - list of open source digital media application

Upload your photos from the event to Flickr and tag them as " gatheringofdigitalstorytellers " or join the Digital Storytelling group.

Friday, June 09, 2006


FULL SCHEDULE Descriptions



Thaddeus Miles of Mass Impact , Amy Hill of The Center for Digital Storytelling , Tasha Freidus of Creative Narrations

9:30-11:00 OPENING SESSION -

Making an Impact with Your Digital Story: Outreach & Distribution Strategies That Work

We all know that digital stories are powerful tools for social change, but what are the best ways to make meaningful and measurable impacts with limited resources? In this hands-on session outreach experts will share success stories and walk participants through the process of building an outreach campaign through strategic partnerships.

Moderated by: Shira Golding, Director of Education & Outreach, Arts Engine

Melissa Krodman, Program Manager, Project Think Different
Vanessa Pabón, TOLD Director, Telling Our Legacies Digitally

  1. Stories and Youth - Nicole Demedenko of the Youth Training Project , Youth from Telling Our Legacies Digitally, Dean Gransar of Home, Inc., Dina Rosen of Kean State University

    One of the most widespread applications of digital storytelling has been in the context of youth work. In this session, the presenters (youth and adults) will share their experiences of working with youth in various settings and on various issues, with the goal of exploring how best to engage young people in sharing stories about their lives; when “traditional” digital storytelling practices can be adapted for working with youth; and how these powerful stories can be used to raise awareness and engage youth in addressing the challenges they face in their own communities.

  2. Story Coaching 101 – Tasha Freidus and Amy Hill

    In this session, Amy and Tasha will present tips for facilitating story circles and coaching individuals through the scriptwriting process. Participants will go through activities to practice listening, questioning, and probing techniques.

1:30 – 2:45 TECHNICAL NUTS & BOLTS (Q&A)

JaModi Robinson, Jennifer Gilomen and Christefano
JaModi, Jennifer, and Christefano will present various recording, image manipulation, and editing options, as well as new ways to easily upload stories and create DVD's. This session will be adapted to your needs and questions, let us know what you need!


  1. Inclusive Storytelling - Diane Dew of the Citti Project , Sheela Sethuraman of EduWeave, Danielle Martin of UMass Boston CTC VISTA Project

    How do you create accessible digital stories? How do you foster storytelling skills in people with varying learning or physical needs and abilities? This session will address the opportunities and challenges encountered in the creation of inclusive digital stories – stories that can be developed and experienced by broader set of people, including those with disabilities. The facilitators will introduce participants to the concepts of universal design, describe the experience of conducting a digital storytelling workshop for girls with hearing impairments, and provide resources and techniques to help trainers and producers develop more inclusive forms of multimedia expression.

    Universal Design is a term that originated in architecture as a way to design environments to accommodate a wide range of users, including those with disabilities. Curb-cuts is an example of universal design. The concept soon found it's way into other domains including product development, website design and education. In the context of digital stories, creating content that is inclusive or at the minimal barrier-free can result in unexpected positive outcomes. A text caption track can make the story accessible to not only a person with a hearing impairment but also someone who has difficulty comprehending the language used in the audio track. Graphic organizers can simplify the script-writing process for someone with a learning difficulty but also benefit other storytellers in organizing their thoughts. Embedding features that help those with disabilities ultimately benefit everyone.

    Case Study: Workshop for girls with hearing impairments - At the 2006 Girls Get Connected conference at Simmon's College, Danielle Martin presented a short digital storytelling workshop for 10 middle school age girls from the Horace Mann School of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Boston. In two consecutive 1.5 hour sessions, she and her team of two trainers covered the basic curriculum from massIMPACT's Spreading the Stories program; including an explanation of the digital storytelling process, writing a simple script, taking digital photos, recording some audio, and using iMovie to build the final story piece. Although some girls had some hearing abilities, all participants had to consider voice and narration more carefully. The trainer's teaching style was adjusted in several ways such as finding alternative accessible stories (with captions) to play as examples, leaving space for translation during the oral presentation, pairing the girls, using visual diagrams, using script worksheet with prompts, providing multiple options, etc.

  2. THE STORY DEVELOPMENT PROCESS: Josh Schachter of StoriesMatter and Cheryl Crow of Bridges to Understanding

    Should images or narrative drive the story development process? Does it depend on the story? The student? Both? In this session, we will explore the tools and approaches that exist to help students navigate this process. Josh will share his experience helping youth on the San Xavier Reservation discover their visual voice and how to use images to tell a story. Cheryl will share lessons learned from varying approaches to story development from Chama, New Mexico and BRIDGES' international sites.


9:00 – 10:30 CAPACITY BUILDING: How your organization can build & sustain a digital storytelling project

Lisa Dush, UmassBoston and Thaddeus Miles of MassImpact

Lisa and Thaddeus will talk about two aspects of "capacity building." First, Lisa will describe what she learned in follow-up interviews and visits to Boston-area organizations whose members had been trained at 3-day digital storytelling workshops and had begun efforts to use stories or storytelling at their home organizations. Second, Thaddeus will discuss his efforts to coordinate a reinforcing "network" of digital storytelling practitioners in the Boston area. The session will focus on the challenges 3-day workshop attendees face as they try to institutionalize digital storytelling at their home organizations, and will explore useful ways that storytellers can work toward capacity building, both within their own organizations and with other local practitioners.


  1. Stories and Healing – Amy Hill Silence Speaks , Aimee Thompson of Close to Home , and Lisa Fliegel of Arts Incentives Program

    In digital storytelling work, we often ask that students delve deeply into their own experiences, including traumatic experiences. What critical supports and considerations are needed to make this work a safe and transformative experience at both the individual and group level? In this session, the presenters will explore how their respective practices have adapted digital storytelling as a method of art therapy and a method for supporting healing through social action, and facilitate a discussion about key methods for ensuring the well being of participants, from recruitment through teaching and follow-up.

  2. Stories and alternative education/language and literacy issues: Melanee Grondahl of Year-up , Vanessa Pabon of T.O.L.D., Heather Pleasants of University of Alabama

    Many facilitators struggle with how to teach the storytelling process in a way that addresses the many language and learning challenges their participants might face.
    This panel will discuss various types of workshop structures and a variety of scripting ideas and methods used in alternative educational environments that specifically focus on developing literacy and language. Additionally, the panel will offer first-hand accounts, solutions and ideas for other facilitators who are facing language and literacy issues in their workshops and learning environments.


  1. Stories and Community Engagement – Barbara Ganley of Middlebury College , Jennifer de Fontaine and Camille of Neighborhood House, Melissa Luna and Rafael Feliciano of Sociedad Latina, Remy Mansfield, Middlebury College Class of'07.

    How might we use digital storytelling to engage and build a range of communities and to promote active citizenship for all? In this session on “Stories and Community Engagement” we will invite discussion on the role of stories within communities, and on our experiences using digital storytelling as a tool for fostering strong bonds within and between communities.

    The first part of the session will feature short presentations by the session facilitators: Melissa and Rafael will talk about digital storytelling and community planning through their experience as organizers with women’s groups in Toronto and Jamaica and ); and Barbara Ganley of Middlebury College will talk about how we might reach out within our communities and beyond by using social software to connect and chronicle the work of digital storytelling.

    During the second part of the session, we will break into small discussion/work groups to brainstorm effective ways to integrate digital storytelling practices into our community-based work and ways in which we can build on the work already accomplished.

  2. To be determined, open space

    Program participants interested in an area that hasn't been covered are encouraged to begin their own discussions.


Our gathering will end with a brainstorm and planning session on ways to foster the community digital storytelling movement. How can we stay in touch? How can we remain organized? What do we need to move our work forward?

Friday, June 02, 2006


New Bios

The bios are coming in for session facilitators. Send us yours and we'll add it!

Camille Turner is a Toronto based media/performance artist and curator. Her inter-cultural community engagements bridge boundaries and explore the social dimensions of technology. She is currently a community art facilitator with the Art Gallery of Ontario, an international collaborator with the Container Project in Jamaica and artist in residence with Central Neighbourhood House where for the past three years has worked with Jennifer LaFontaine to establish a digital storytelling program and a mobile media lab.

Dina Rosen is Assistant Professor at Kean University in Union, New Jersey. She teaches a range of undergraduate and graduate level courses with primary emphasis on grade preschool- fifth grade. Dr. Rosen has a successful track record of professional scholarship. Her work has explored technology-rich strategies for empowering youth through the use of digital stories as a tool for communication, reflection and decision-making. Dr. Rosen is active in professional organizations on the state, national and international levels. She serves on the executive board of the New Jersey Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators, Vice-President of the Early Childhood SIG of the Society for Instructional Technology in Teacher Education (SITE) and a member of the National Technology Leadership Coalition.

Melanee Grondahl has been teaching English at the college level for nine years. She is currently a Learning Director and Head of the Writing Department for a non-profit program called Year Up, which is based in Boston with other sites in Providence, Cambridge, Washington DC and New York City. After attending a digital storytelling workshop sponsored by Creative Narrations and MassImpact in 2005, she decided to integrate a digital storytelling component into Year Up's existing business writing curriculum.

Aimee Thompson is the founder and director of the Close to Home Domestic Violence Prevention Initiative, a grassroots community organizing effort aimed at changing social norms and preventing family violence by mobilizing networks of family, friends and neighbors in communities. Prior to Close to Home, Aimee worked for Project Harmony, an international non-profit, as the director of their Domestic Violence Community Partnership. Aimee's grass-roots organizing experience includes leading and supervising teams of organizers to improve residents' access to health care and increase the neighborhood's civic participation through door-knocking and the creation of block groups. Aimee has been working with digital stories at Close to Home for the past three years.

Shira Golding, Director of Education and Outreach, Arts Engine
Shira is an activist, filmmaker, graphic designer and musician with a passion for using media as a tool for action and education. She joined Arts Engine in 2002, , where she writes and commissions articles, organizes workshops and screenings around the country, helps independent filmmakers develop their outreach campaigns, and creates resources for teachers and activists. She is cofounder of Shirari Industries and a member of New York Women in Film & Television.

Natasha Freidus
is the founder and director of Creative Narrations. Before entering the media field, Natasha worked as an adult educator and organizer for eight years. It was through community building work that she developed her interest in the role of storytelling as a tool for social change. Natasha has conducted workshops in multimedia storytelling for diverse groups throughout the country. Natasha earned her Masters degree in Urban Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where she was community media coordinator and a course instructor at The Center for Reflective Community Practice from 2001 to 2003.

Amy L. Hill is a digital storytelling instructor, documentary filmmaker, and public health consultant. Amy’s twelve year history of coordinating community-based women’s health and violence prevention projects led her in 2000 to found the Silence Speaks Digital Storytelling Project, which teaches survivors and witnesses of violence how to create short digital videos of courage and healing and promotes use of these pieces in training, community organizing, and policy advocacy contexts. She continues to coordinate Silence Speaks and other projects focused on health, human rights, community development, and social/economic justice, in her current role as Community Projects Director at the Center for Digital Storytelling.

Heather Pleasants is a writer, ethnographer and Assistant Professor at the University of Alabama. She is the past director of the Sankofa Stories Digital Storytelling Project in Wilmington, Delaware, and is currently working to establish digital storytelling spaces for middle school students in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and the Black Belt region of Alabama and Mississippi. Since completing her first digital story in 2003, she has been engaged in ongoing research that explores how African American women at different stages in their lives use digital storytelling, photo essays and web spaces as tools of personal expression and social change.

Cheryl Crow graduated Magna Cum Laude from Vassar College in 2004, where she studied ethnographic film, media linguistics, and developmental psychology. During the past year, she’s volunteered and worked for Bridges to Understanding, a nonprofit that connects youth around the world through the creation and sharing of digital stories. In addition to fulfilling communication and grant-writing capacities, she has recently been excited to get more hands-on experience with the storytelling process from the ground up.

Josh Schachter works as a freelance photographer, visual storytelling teacher and consultant in Tucson. Josh’s images have been published internationally in books, magazines, newspapers, annual reports and other formats in publications ranging from the New York Times to the Navajo Times. Josh has trained youth, community groups and teachers throughout the US to explore and photograph issues in their lives and communities. Josh is the founder of the photography and digital storytelling programs at the Tucson-based nonprofit, Voices Inc., where he currently works as a guest artist on a digital storytelling project on the San Xavier Reservation. Through his work Josh had developed a passion for using photography as a path toward personal and community transformation.

Barbara Ganley is a lecturer in English, and the Director of The Project for Integrated Expression at Middlebury College. An active implementer of new media and social software into literature and writing classrooms as a way for students to ground their learning within place, community and self, her special interests include digital storytelling as a means of academic discourse and experiential learning, and integrated web technologies as a vehicle for expression, community-building, and student-centered learning. She's an active edublogger, and can be found on bgblogging.

JaModi Robinson is the President of Digital Expressions, a video production
company with heavy interest in storytelling. Has worked with various organizations throughout Boston over the past few years in conjunction with MassImpact and Creative Narrations. His goal is to link
creativity and technology through independent producing and teaching. His
work with digital storytelling stresses needs for individual expression and
personal growth.

Vanessa Pabon is the Director of TOLD, Telling Our Legacies Digitally, in the North End of Springfield. TOLD has opened a community digital storytelling lab where the community has a space to share their stories with either a digital story or through music. Vanessa is also a graphic artist/web designer, and has her own business, Your Name In Bytes.

Diane Dew has been with the Center for Accessible Technology for four years, managing the office. She has been a life-long photographer, has been studying photography seriously for six years, and started creating digital stories 3 years ago. Recently she’s been volunteering with the CITTI Project, helping to create a digital story about the organization.

Jen Gilomen is a media producer and instructor at the Bay Area Video Coalition in San Francisco, where she manages a program called the Digital Storytelling Institute, helping California-based nonprofits use technology to tell stories for social change. Jen's recent documentary “In My Shoes: Stories of Youth with LGBT Parents” won the Audience Award for Best Short at the 2005 Frameline Film Festival, and went on to screen at several other festivals across the U.S.

Lisa Dush is a Ph.D. student in Rhetoric and Composition at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, in the midst of writing a dissertation on digital storytelling. Her research project follows one organization as its employees try to transfer the skills they learned at a 3-day workshop back into their home organization. Lisa also teaches writing, literature, and digital composition courses to college students.

Sheela Sethuraman has over 9 years of experience as an educational technologist, applying her training in engineering, multimedia and instructional design to create products for students with special needs especially those with learning difficulties, low vision and for whom English is a second language. In her previous role as Director of Technology at CAST, a leading R&D organization credited with creating the ‘Universal Design for Learning’ framework, Ms. Sethuraman oversaw the technical development of numerous products including speech-enabled web browser, digital repository of learning materials, graphic organizers, writing tools and literacy software for struggling readers.

Danielle Martin is a first year VISTA with the CTC VISTA Project at the Community Technology & Media Program at UMass Boston, tasked to be the priority area curriculum coordinator as well as the Assistant Editor of the Community Technology Review . So far, this year she has focused on resources for CTC VISTAS and conducted several digital storytelling trainings for both adults and youth. Her background is in after-school multimedia programs for youth, instructional design for web-based trainings, and fundraising and development. She was previously the Technology Director at the Charlestown Boys & Girls Club (MA) Computer Clubhouse and a MIT Media Lab IDEAS Institute Fellow.

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