Monday, May 31, 2010

On Duality of 'The Gift'

On the first day of the digital storytelling course, I offered that a story is a gift. Like all gifts given from a place of sincerity, both the giver and receiver benefit. In effect, both share these roles. I find this a good metaphor for my experiences in the We Media: Digital Stories of Race, Class and Gender course. I have learned that I am both a product and producer of media. Both a student and a teacher. Someone who travels a path at once intimate and public. I have experienced a new medium to express, explore, and connect. The act of creating a digital story is an attempt to move closer to answer, "Who Am I?" But perhaps one of the most powerful things about digital storytelling is that it moves us simultaneously to answer the question, "Who are we?" I believe anyone who has had the opportunity to be part of a digital storytelling group experience has seen the power of the digital story to transform the individual and the community. For me, this has had many manifestations, from the personal growth of learning to conquer my technophobia, to the opportunity to interview my husband and see him from a new perspective. My story is one of process as much as of results. From the sharing of the story in the story circle, to the showing of the digital story in community, the connection shared with others was one of the things I will take with me that I had not expected. It was a truly remarkable moment for me when I saw and heard that my story was understood, or that in some way some piece spoke to them. It was equally rewarding when I watched the stories of my classmates. I felt I had been trusted with something special, something important. Their stories were my stories also. I thank Joe Lambert, Dr. Rachel Raimist, and my classmates, who I am convinced each hold creative genius. Thank you for the helping to "fill the well" as my mother was always fond of saying.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Mothering: My Journey From Lala To MAMA

Mothering: My Journey From Lala To MAMA from UA, Telecommunication and Film on Vimeo.


Life from UA, Telecommunication and Film on Vimeo.

I am so sad because Vimeo or maybe Final Cut Pro or I messed the video up. It was smooth when I downloaded up to Vimeo. I don't know what happened. Anyway, this is a piece of a poem I wrote called "LIFE?"

My Track Buddies. :)

My teammates have been asking about this video for days since I recorded it! Aside from it being almost 10 mins, there might be a few glitches, there might not...who (I should, but hey...) So, I apologize in advance. I know they're anxious and so am I.I'm glad that I got the chance to share this with you all so that you all can a better understanding of what it's like to be a female athlete at The University of Alabama. So I hope you all enjoy it. As always, Roll Tide.


Untitled from UA, Telecommunication and Film on Vimeo.

Final DS-Interview

I wanted to make this story about my husband being a feminist. Instead it turned out to be a story about his journey through gender and sexuality along with societies constructs. I hope you enjoy.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Mom's Treasures Digital Story

Mom's Treasures from UA, Telecommunication and Film on Vimeo.

Human of the Year

I created this ds because I wanted to take back my voice that was taken from me. I also do not discredit the help that the hospital gave me, I am simply letting the world know, its not a place for race. Enjoy.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Epitome of Being Alive

The Epitome of Being Alive from UA, Telecommunication and Film on Vimeo.

Charles' Digital Story

Hello, Class!!

My digital story is about my niece, Anna Grace and her traumatic trip to the hospital. I call it "Anna Grace: a Story of Survival"

a Story of Survival from UA, Telecommunication and Film on Vimeo.

Digital Story--"Q&A"

Hello ladies and Charles,

Here is my digital story. It's called Q & A. It's just a little story about something I went through in high school. It's pretty self explanatory I think. In the story I reference a book called Keeping You A Secret by Julie Anne Peters. It's an amazing book.

Unfortunately, I'm not in class today. I work until 12:00pm and I can't afford to take the time off :-) So I hope you all enjoy my project and I look forward to seeing everyone's project when I get off.

If you guys could do me a favor. Could you write a few comments about my project so I can do my paper? Thanks

Untitled from UA, Telecommunication and Film on Vimeo.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Pomp and Circumstance

I usually got my dad a gift card for Father's Day, but I'm being super cool this year by sharing this story in remembrance of him. I chose to name this video pomp and circumstance because its about graduation in a literal and abstract sense. The actual song arranged by Sir Edward Elgar isn't in my story, but the theme of the song is. It's about opening a new chapter. It's about finding new perspective. It's about a new start. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did making it. Check it. :}

Untitled from UA, Telecommunication and Film on Vimeo.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

My ACT Card Works

Hey Everybody,

Do any of you know Tiffany's cell # or how I can contact her? I want to let her know my ACT card is now working and I don't need her to meet me at 5:30pm anymore.


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Rosalyn Hirsch's "Bittersweet"

Ms. Hirsch describes her story as telling of a family’s transition from uneducated Italian immigrants to educated Americans. The stars of her story are a typewriter and a set of fifty books—the "Harvard Classics"—sold to her father by a door-to-door salesman. After sixty years of marriage, she and her husband decided to downsize and the typewriter and books are things she is giving away.

The typewriter connects her to her mother, who took a job when her father was ill. The Harvard Classics connect her to her father, who was told by the salesman that to read all of the books was to receive the equivalent of a liberal arts college degree. Bittersweet refers to her feelings about parting with these artifacts.

Ms. Hirsch’s story made me think about what artifacts I have held on to that hold special significance to me. If I could only have two items in my home right now, what items would I choose? Okay, honestly, right now, one of those items would probably be a big piece of chocolate crème cake from the container sitting on top of the microwave.

After I ate the cake, here are two things that I might choose:

The first was made for me by my sister, Rachel. The second was made by my mom, and on the back it says "To My Special Honey, With Love, Sharon."

To love and know that you are loved…in the end, I don’t know if there is anything more important than that. Reading between the lines of Ms. Hirsch’s story, the overwhelming sense that I’m left with is how essential love giving it away, it always comes back to you. Unlike the typewriter, or the Harvard Classics, which seem like they'd get pretty heavy after a little while, we all carry within us an infinite ability to love. And to be married to a person for sixty years? Crazy.

In a good way.

I think.

From Senegal to Tuscaloosa, With Love

I watched several digital stories produced by children and young men/women living in rural Senegal. These were less stories, and more realist documentations of aspects of the producer’s daily lives. Admittedly, I was skeptical at the philosophical position underlying the statement that these stories offered a “look into village life, a perspective that could only be filmed by a local.” And so, my skepticism and frustration at the underlying old school “see for yourself the reality of these children” rhetoric fueled an initially pessimistic reaction—I found myself wondering how others in the U.S. viewing these stories might avoid knee-jerk reactions to images of Senegalese girls walking back from a well with water vessels on their heads, or how others might “see” the significance of cows and horses with ribs showing through their skin, grazing in dusty, brush-filled fields, or what sense might be made from the fact that the village social space was segregated by gender, with the men of the village lounging under one special shady area.

After all, these images triggered feelings and ideas in me that I am not proud of--my first world elitism and privilege rearing its ugly head in my first viewing of stories about harvesting millet, milking cows, and gender segregated social lives. And so I watched them again…and I found myself surprised the level of intimacy conveyed in small moments of the stories. The preparing of tea for elders, the sizzle of fish frying in a pot, girls laughing while making dinner for their families; children starting their day, helping their families, studying.

In watching these stories several times, I loved how they produced such disorienting reflections—these girls are so different/no different than my daughter. This representation of morning rituals is so different/no different than my own morning routine. Each story could be perceived as a romanticist, neoliberal revision of social life in a faraway place…or as an elegantly bare view of life and relationships…or as (you fill in the blank). Somehow, through their “realism,” these stories created opportunities for my multiple, interlocking, resonant and conflicting interpretations. I am left wondering how this level of openness is allowed through digital stories of other sorts, and if this openness is best conceived as a property of the story, the viewer, or both.

I’d like to steal a bit from Dr. R’s “feedback sandwich” advice in saying that if this were my project…I would have liked to have a digital story from the person who facilitated and directed the project. His story is told partially, but incompletely, through an account of the process that he and the students went through in creating their stories. But what was in his journal? What did he think about when he was traveling back to his own village? And what did he share with his friends and family once he returned home? These are the stories that are so often left out of representations of digital storytelling pedagogy, and every little bit of relativity helps us all to critique our own practices.

Uh It Isn't Just Nicki Minaj...

Some people think Nicki Minaj is a bad influence on children but honestly any song can become inappropriate if the parents don't check the attitude.. it all starts in the home I think.

One of my sorors linked this on Facebook. There is also a blog about it on The Crunk Feminist Collective (haven't read it yet though).

Youtube Link

Whatcha guys think?

DS Reviews

I am the type of person who likes to choose at random. I will just click on a bunch of things, just to choose something that I wouldn't normally choose.

The first one that I chose to watch was on the LGBTQ and I of course choose the one about sexual assault. The ds was called Discovering Eva. When I watched this video, I almost stopped it because this is an issue that I work with on the daily basis and it didn't seem fair to review something I already know so much about, but her voice had a sense of calmness to it. So I continued to let it play. The story started off with a picture of her when she was a young woman and there is this calming music playing in the background. It's almost like your in the elevator or sitting in a salon and it's relaxing. The choice of music was almost odd to me, but then I thought about her voice and how it made me continue the video. It was something that she had healed about and she let it not be a nusance in her life. She continued to tell the story about her how her grandfather raped her and how no one believed her. How she had to grow up with this and she was'nt a strong structure but she is now. She eventually has two children and is on the road to healing. How she appreciates the people in her community around her. The rest of the video is using pictures of her at the beach, sand, gardens, stonewalls, things with really aethetically pleasing photos. Again with the theme of relaxtion and stress relieving photos or music. That is what really made the digital story. The fact that this terrible thing happend to her, but when she delivers this message to the world with a sense of calmness. It is not a dramatic, screaming, hateful message (although it would not have been bad if it was) but it was a different message. I really enjoyed it. It was sad, but I am greatful that as a survivor that she has a method of release.

The second ds that I watched I wanted it to be from a student view. So the one I chose was a student in Dr. Raimist class. It was called Through the Fire by Eric . He was a Minnesota football player and to me this was a very interesting story on feeling. Eric's story was not just about the sport. He easily could have made this a story just about football, but he didn't. I am interested in football and I have always wondered what the players are actually feeling as far as a win/lose. I know that they could be happy/angry, but that is a feeling that is so generalized. I really enjoyed having him tell his story about him feeling in his own words, with pictures to back up his feelings. You can always look at a picture and say "wow, he looks upset" but to have someone tell you the exact story and feeling behind the picture is powerful. It should'nt be overlooked just because of the subject. I really like that he showed all of the pictures of the football games and the different angles and areas of where football can be. Not just on the field. He also showed photos of himself and other famous football players. He showed pictures of emotions while feeling "hit in the stomach with a sledge hammer" the picture was of a person with a sledge hammer. I really liked all of the effects that he used, it was almost like being at a football game. The only thing I didn't understand is that for a few seconds it said Media Offline? I don't know what that means, because they had words underneath that line.

But I recommend that you all take a look at each. They are powerful for the 5-10 minutes that they are.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Connected to today's guest lecture: Hip Hop As Mass Media

Longtime journalist, professor and former Presidential candidate Dr Jared Ball is always on point when he tackles the topic of Hip Hop As Mass Media..

In the clip below he kicks off what looks to be an very engaging conversation.. Head on over to his website for more info..

Check it HERE

In the News: Iranian Filmmaker Kiana Firouz


Kiana Firouz, a 27 year old Iranian out lesbian filmmaker, was denied asylum in the UK recently. This despite the fact that a film is set to be released this week, involving Firouz, about lesbians in Iran. The Iranian government is demanding her return after clips of the movie were released, and she is likely to be tortured or even killed if she returns. You can sign this petition to support her appeal for asylum.
See a clip from the documentary here:

Here's a bit more of the story:

Kiana Firouz, 27 years old, is an outspoken Iranian LGBT rights activist, filmmaker, and actress. When clips of her video documentary work featuring the struggle and persecution of gays and lesbians in her country were acquired by Iranian intelligence, agents began to follow Firouz around Tehran, harassing and intimidating her. She fled for England where she could safely continue her work and studies.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Positive Female Rappers

Rachel and/or class

Where is the list of positive rappers mentioned in class?


An Examination of “The Balcony”

The digital story “The Balcony” was created in 2009 in Paarl, Western Cape Province, South Africa, through a workshop facilitated by the Center for Digital Storytelling. The author, Pieter van der Walt, who served as the narrator, used the perspective of a character inside the material, as he recalled memories of his boyhood, and later his experience as an adult. His story was both his own, as well as the story of a post-apartheid community.

Through this story, although brief, in the first portion of the film, he recalled a traumatic childhood encounter with overt racism through his account of observing a man being beaten while no one intervened. He then shifted to the story of an adult friendship and the need for

communities in his homeland to work through the struggles and mend divides, despite the challenges of poverty and racism. In doing this, the author told of a communal vegetable garden, and of an unfinished balcony, which served as a metaphor for the ongoing challenges exemplified by the narrator’s statement, “the picture is not perfect… the balcony is always under construction” but that this could not be a reason not to forge ahead.

Pieter utilized elements of form which helped to build the engaging nature of the film, and convey the realistic, yet optimistic tone of the story. The narration is told in a language native to South Africa, and subtitles are provided through a text box on the screen in English, adding to the authenticity of the story. As the narrator recounts the beating he observed as a child of ten, the photo of an innocent looking young boy, presumably the narrator, remains on the screen. When the story shifts to the present the screen shifts to a current photo. The story line is well accompanied by bright photos of the landscape and of the people of the community. The author also “takes” us to his community by embedding video footage of a drive to the town. The author supports his thesis with recurring photos: one of his neighbor (a dark photo that harkens to “the picture is not perfect” and one of the unfinished balcony (the work is never done, but we should forge on.)

2 Videos.

2 Videos.
I decided to stick with the Center for Digital Storytelling site for this exercise. I wanted to explore all the other digital storytelling sites, but I only have one pair of eyes and not enough hours in the day. Bummer. But the videos I did watch were told extremely well in my opinion. Here we go…

Healing by Annamieka Hopps
This is a story about Annamieka Hopps, a 21-year old young woman who was diagnosed with Lymphoma when she was 19. In the beginning of her story, she talks about never seeing the inside of a doctor’s office and being a product of the New Age who ate organically along with adopting holistic medicinal practices throughout her whole life. So when she’s faced with cancer, she has to adopt this Western idea of healing to fight off her sickness. With her head shaved and her friends supporting her through benefit events, she took advantage of the time usually described as a time of depression and turned into a time a self-introspection. She says she used western medicine to fight her tumor, but she used her medicine to heal her soul. Kudos to her.
In the beginning of her story, Hopps is blowing bubbles, which, I think is representative of her personality; free flowing and blowing in the wind wanting to be one with nature. After that, pictures tell her story. The first few frames are representative of her diagnosis of cancer, which are pretty powerful because they fade from on to the other. It fades to all the western medicine that she’s not used to. By the middle frame the screen went black, and then there was an illustration of a woman with her head shaved and later came the rest of the image, which was a flyer promoting an even to help her with her fight against cancer. News clips about the benefits held for her were next. One frame, the one with her hand open and her hair on the ground is powerful because it speaks to struggle and triumph. The next few frames show her with her head cleanly shaved with henna tattoos all over it, which I thought was so pretty. A zoom-in affect was used for this photo along with the ones after it that spoke to her healing process. The instrumental soundtrack flowed really well with her journey too. It was somber at the beginning and progressively got better and was more spirit-filled. I loved it. Get to love it too here.

New Orleans by Gina Allen
This story is like so many stories in the black community to me. It reminds me of my mother’s story about when we moved back to Alabama after I was born in Omaha, Nebraska. It’s Gina’s story about how her parents grew up in New Orleans and all the good times they had there. She didn’t get to experience those same types of experiences they did because she didn’t have the pleasure of living in New Orleans, but in South Florida, where she thinks her culture has been lost (or getting to that point) After being uncomfortable as a child in South Florida because she was always “that one Black girl” in school, she decided to move back to New Orleans to let her kids experience their history, reconnect with her family as well as her identity. Awesome.
I really loved all the frames that Gina used in the piece from start to finish. Starting at the beginning, she puts the words ‘New Orleans’ on the bottom right, which catches my eye as it fades into the next picture frame. She uses the fade-up affect a lot, which I thought was appropriate. She zooms-in in a few picture throughout the story, but there was one particular picture that she zoomed out of, which was the picture of her family. She invites you into the whole family frame while telling of all these family stories that were shared at the dinner table. (Which I think is really symbolic of family. J) Most of the time she used the whole frame, and only on a few she would use a frame within a frame. I think she really weaves her words well with the frames too. The jazz music in her piece is mellow, uplifting, not too loud, and has an element of life to it, which goes well with her story. See what I’m talking about here.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Finding Who We Are...

Black Shoes is a story by Kate O'Neill, who participated in the CDS February Open Workshop:Denver. I like this story because it is a telling of a woman who finds her identity. Her mother encourages her to be practical and she doesn’t want to be practical. As the film begins, big band music plays in the background. O’Neill first gives the viewer examples of how practical her mother was and how unpractical she wanted to be starting with a photo of her mother and father on their wedding day. “Even my mother’s weeding dress was practical” she says, and continues to explain how she wished her mom would cook mushrooms in real butter. O’Neill gives a couple more examples of how practical her mother was. Accompanied by the explanation are personal photographs. O’Neill is from a big family and as a child had desires of having her own style. Her mother told her she could never be satisfied and O’Neill agreed. The story takes a turn when O’Neill made her first communion in the second grade. Her mother dressed her as all the other girls, in all white except one major difference; she was wearing black shoes instead of white shoes like the other girls. O’Neill was horrified and embarrassed. I love the photograph of her communion. All of the girls look alike. O’Neil is standing in the middle of the other four girls. She stands apart not because she is in the middle, but because she is in the middle and wearing black patent leather shoes. The black shoes to me represent the black sheep. O’Neill wanted to be different. She wanted to do things opposite of what her mother would do. She goes on to talk about the things she did when she was older, like, shop for a coat in season instead of buying it when coats were sale. O’Neill ends the story by reconciling her loathing for how practical her mother was and realized she too as a grown woman did things that were practical. The last piece of her story is about real pearl earrings she bought her mother. She said her mother wears them every day. Real pearl earrings are not so practical. For me, this story sends the message that is fine to be different.

Role Models is a story by Derrick Reinert about his mentor. The story begins with Mark, Reinert’s mentor and role model who was also his supporter and friend. He admired Mark and because Mark played basketball Reinert also played basketball, following in Mark's footsteps. Reinert aspired to be the teammate Mark was and show the kindness to his teammates and love for the game of basketball as Mark did. The story is told visually with pictures of Mark and Reinert. Some of the photos are really funny and others are serious. Reinert shows the intensity of the relationship he had with Mark through every picture. The pictures are from the first time he met Mark (which was when he was in middle school) to Reinert’s last game in college with Mark supporting him from the bleachers. Something happens to Mark (you will have to watch it to know what happened). Reinert talks about the help Mark was to him, and he aspires to be the mentorand role model Mark was. This story is a true testament to what a mentor can do in an individual’s life. This story made me admire my mentor even more then I already do. What I enjoyed about this story is the honesty Reinert has when telling the story. Even though, visually the story was told by photographs I do not think it could be told a better way. The viewer is invited to try to comprehend how much of an impact Mark made on Reinert’s life. I think that message is made clear visually and by the narrator very well.

What Is Real By Vera Examination

What Is Real? from storycentre on Vimeo.

The title screen of What Is Real by Vera has an eye catching colorful image (though I can’t tell what it is) and instrumental music begins to play. There is a fade to a black screen. The music gets softer and Vera uses a voice over technique. I hear birds, water and a little tribal music in the background. I feel drawn into a natural setting. When Vera begins her narrative there is a beautiful image of a tree (you only see a portion of the tree’s bark) and transferred onto the tree are what I believe are Vera’s ancestors. I love this image because it signifies her connection with her roots. I then hear what sounds like a tribal community in the background. Vera sys she believes all of us are born with the memories of all of our ancestors and their memory are in our blood and transcends time and space. She says modern life overshadows this. The story covers a massive span of Vera’s life in a short amount of time and it is difficult for me to feel a strong sense of flow. Nonetheless, I still like and appreciate the story. There is a fade to a black screen then images of trees and the sky taken from the angle of someone looking up at them. Vera discloses having visions to her mother of someone bring horses down to water. Her mother could not see them, but a few hours later there they were. Then there is an image of horses, but the previously mentioned trees are transferred onto them and then the trees reappear. I think the horses were not a clearly visible image because only Vera could see them. As an adult Vera’s mother acknowledged her visions and disclosed she had them too. There is an image displayed of a multi-paned front door window that has almost a kaleidoscope effect, but then you are able to see clearer. The trees reappear and then there is a fade to a black screen. Vera then skips to going to college and working on research about the history of a reservation. There were two books that had conflicting information about the reservation and she did not know which one was true. The image technique displays pieces of the room at a time until the whole room is visible. The camera then zooms in on books on a shelf. Vera describes seeing a large transparent man in the door way and the book she believed held the truth feel to the floor. The images used here are kind of gray and cloudy. Vera then begins to speak of when she was being guided as a social worker to help clients. There is an image of Vera as a social worker set against the initial tree she uses or a similar with the tree turning around slowly in the background. She speaks of her clients getting upset that she knew things about them they did not tell her and told her boss. Her colleagues began to call her a witch. Vera lost her ability to see the images. Vera is on a journey to find out who she is. Finding out her original name is pivotal in her search for self. Vera incorporates lots of family photos in her story. I find this comforting and helpful in finding your true identity. The story closes with music that has birds and the ocean in the back ground with a drum and shakers playing.

There were quite a few links for digital stories, so I just hopped around and found a few with interesting looking thumbnails and titles. The first one I wanted to share with you all was called “Training Wheels” (I apologize if I was supposed to italicize the title). I decided to share this one because there isn't anything I didn't like about it. I thought it was pretty awesome. The short is set up similar to the ones we watched in class from CDS. The narrator tells a story about she and her father and just like “Sofas”, the creator centers her whole story around training wheels. I don't want to give a spoiler because it's really good and you should go watch but the story eventually goes full circle. She tells her experience with training wheels then talks about her dad and his experience and then it becomes a metaphor. I really liked that. The creator does narrate the story with a voice over but she doesn't use any other audio. She relies on the rhythm she is speaking in to keep your interest and keep the story flowing nicely. Her narration is almost like poetry maybe spoken word. Her voice was smooth and not overpowering. I also really liked her images. I guess it was the good quality that caught may attention. I couldn't tell if the images were live action or still photos. I know some of them were still photographs but they were edited together beautifully I think. Her fades and zooming in and out were all timed nicely.

I couldn't decide which other digital story to talk about. I was really torn, but in the end I chose “What Are You?” (There is Spanish in the title, but I couldn't figure out how to type it. I apologize.) The short is by Jason Zapata M., the moment he spoke I was hooked. In the beginning he reenacts his parents trying to decide what his name will be and the words he chooses along with the images immediately lets you know whats happening. You don't have to read between the lines of his reenactment because he has pictures to kind of show you what isn't being said. The story is about his struggle with being mixed. For a long time he didn't know where he belonged. Jason narrates his story with no back up audio. He plays with his audio a tad bit though because his voice gets stronger and certain parts. It's like he wants to grab your attention. He mixes personal photos with images he probably got off the internet as his visual aids. He doesn't zoom in and out on his photos as many others have. The audio and video work well together because at some points he stops talking and lets you read what he doesn't say. In the video he speaks the hurtful words that people have thrown at him, but will not speak others. They appear on the screen which I think could be another way he keeps your attention. It also could be out of respect which is nice too.

Also, I really liked one image from a digital story by this guy named Javier. He was under the link entitled Frisco Kids Tell It How It Is. This one image says a lot to me and when I saw it, I knew exactly what he was trying to say.

Strength In Love Examination

First and foremost, I loved Strength In Love by Eric! I was immediately pulled in and it definitely had an emotional appeal. I felt sad for Eric, was proud of him when he decides to leave his gang and move to Colorado for a better life, and was rooting for him the whole time even when he ran into hurdles in his new state.

The film begins with a black background and the title, Strength In Love, in white letters. There is an eerie/sad instrumental music track at the beginning along with Eric’s narrative. The narrative begins with him telling his favorite part of Thanksgiving is that he loves making mashed potatoes for himself and the Brandts and the importance of knowing they trust him not to mess it up. While speaking, he shows a picture of him at a dinner table on the left side of the screen and a separate picture of Justin at the dinner table on the right side of the screen later comes up. The sad music is played when images representing negative times in his life are shown. Eric utilizes voice over to tell about his experiences. Examples include the following: Eric discloses his mother was a heroin addict and his dad did not know about him until he was 10. The image shown when disclosing this information is streets with graffiti. Eric also speaks of not always having someone’s house to sleep at so he would try to put himself to sleep by spinning on the merry-go-round. This makes sense to me because kids usually see parks as happy and safe places. The merry-go-round is an image repeated in the story. When he first uses the image of the merry-go-round, I do not know that’s what it is. It looks to me like footage taken of a neighborhood, but there was this bar in the way. I then see the bar is a piece of the merry-go-round. The sad music is played when Eric talks about his life in a gang. It was really profound when he questions how the gang could be his source of protection if he had to get jumped to get in. When getting stabbed while taking care of a drug deal to gain respect from the gang members, Eric asks where is protection now. All of the images depicting the negative times in his life are black and white, with the exception of the photo of the gang. I speculate this to be because he at some level felt like they were family and deserved a color photo like the Brandts or wanted to truly expose who they were, a gang. After getting stabbed Eric decides to move to Colorado with his dad. The images are now in color and there is a picture of mountains when he says this. Unfortunately, things don’t work out with his dad and he is homeless again. The image displayed during this part of the narrative is a dead end sign on a road. Though Eric is homeless again, he decides to stay in school because at least the campus is a warm place. Images of books are shown. After his junior year, Eric finds out he has a new basketball coach. An image of a basketball on the floor is shown. The new coach, Justin Brandt, who stands up for Eric for what Eric describes feels like the first time(an opposing team mate calls Eric a derogatory name), plays a pivotal life altering role in Eric’s life. There is an image of the whole team, then it slowly closes in on Justin and Eric only. I really liked this approach. The story also uses a repeated image of footsteps in the snow.

To me, this signifies extreme conditions, homelessness and loneliness. Justin would see Eric doing his homework on his way home and one day stops to invite him to dinner, which eventually turns into a weekly event. Right before a fade to a black screen, Eric discloses that Justin and Melinda asked him “to stay with them not just for the night, but for good” and he did. There is then a short pause in the narrative with a fade to the black screen. The music then changes to a more inspiring instrumental, the following pictures are now in color and Eric discloses “after 884 miles I found a place to eat Thanksgiving with a real family.” I feel like I have been on this journey with Eric. The images he uses and his narrative allows me to feel his 884 mile lifelong pursuit of a “real family”. There are then happy pictures of Eric, Melinda and Justin. There are also pictures of what I think are some of Melinda and Justin’s relatives which suggests Eric has an extended family through the Brandts relatives. Additional images used include a street illuminated with street lamps, the Youth Foundation Logo, a person getting jumped into a gang, police putting up caution tape around a crime scene, stars exc. I also enjoyed the use of the CDS logo with the tree and roots coming up. This made me think of growth, transformation, and life. Lastly, I appreciated the dedication to Justin and Melinda Brandt as the final image. I see it like saving the best for last. I think this story was extremely healing for Eric, motivational to others and a tribute to the Brandts. Check out Strength In Love by Eric by clicking on the link.

Some of my favorite Digital Stories (by former students)

In my University of Minnesota Summer Bridge to Academic Excellence program last summer, one very talented, smart and all-around beautiful soul Tiffany (who was an incoming freshman) produced this digital story for her midterm assignment:

Tiffany's digital story (viewable HERE... just scroll down the page) came out of the photo exercise that I developed for my digital storytelling course. She started with a single photograph (the one pictured in the screenshot above), and created her story from there.

In this piece she really shows her creativity and talent... she wrote, sang & recorded the original song for the video... so when you know that bit, it really adds to the depth of what she shares of herself. At the time she made this video, she was an incoming freshman to a large R1 university and was leaving home for the first time... I think that's reflected in the story she shares.

Her choice of beautiful photographs taken at sunset are symbolic... right? The sun sets on her high school life, but you know it is rising on the new part of her life as a college student. I think that she gives the beautiful gift of her voice (through voice over and song), it is well edited with slow zoom in's... she is slowly drawing us closer with her piece.

Here are a couple more links (see the Midterm and Final sidebar links to view their stories):

An Examination of “Ironing”

In the digital story “Ironing”, the narrator, Ryan Trauman, created this story in 2004 in Denver, Colorado through the Center for Digital Storytelling. On the one hand, he was inside the material, as he recalled memories of his boyhood. However, he was not only telling his story, but also a story of his parents. He approached this as a close observer, with an emotionally controlled orientation.

Although the story was brief, he explored the impact of the death of his father on his mother, and himself, and then the loss of his mother 25 years later. He investigated his connection to ironing as a coping mechanism. Essentially, he examined the impact of childhood and his family on shaping who he is as an adult.

Ryan employed a variety of elements to create a form consistent with the content he conveyed. The audio elements suited the material he worked with. He used a voice over narration track set against a backdrop of instrumental music. A slow, deliberate, and controlled pace in both the narration and music mimed the movement the viewer would associate with the act of ironing. While the words were sparse, and almost poetic in delivery, they conjured strong sensual imagery, including details of smells, feel, and sounds, which invited the viewer into the story he was building.