Nobody needs to be told about the power of video news pieces, the power of a picture, the power of 140 characters to change opinion, to change the course of history. We are surrounded by living proof of this today. Even more powerful again is a story told from within communities. Not second hand, but directly from the subjects of the news themselves.
The impression might be that members of beleaguered communities have enough to be doing, being victims, trying to survive, getting on with it. But it doesn’t have to be like that. People living in struggling communities often don’t realise that this capacity to tell their own stories in a visual media format is within their reach, much more easily than they imagine.
Again and again, whenever I work with any group or community on a digital storytelling project, people are amazed at how easy it is to create a powerful video story, that tells their story, completely from their point of view. They can own and control their story in a way, that is never possible if it told by someone from the outside. We don’t have to expect awards for cinematography or production, but with passable skills, and audible sound, these stories direct from their source, can have a powerful impact.
Most people have a television production crew and post production house in the palm of their hand these days, even in the least advantaged communities. It is very feasible to take images from within that life, while it is being lived, without artifice or filters.
The technical skills are not difficult to learn. In fact, most kids already know how to put digital stories together. They may be only creating fragments of stories at the moment, but they have the technical skills. Pulling it all together into a visual story is a new form of literacy, that is almost as necessary as the ability to write in today’s image saturated world. Some people are natural storytellers, but they might not realise that their stories have value, or how to get them out there. Others struggle to pull the fragments together into a story that makes sense.
There are resources to push forward and structure the digital storytelling process, within a community context. Take a look at https://www.storycenter.org, the home of digital storytelling for resources.
Communities who need to get their story out there, don’t have to wait until someone notices their plight. Communities can take control of their stories, by telling them themselves.