Giving them a Voice; Digital Storytelling

Jul 8, 2009

I just finished some editing work on video we shot in the southwest Fresno community for a project we are working on for First 5 Fresno County.  The process is so illuminating.  I’m reminded once again of how much we all have in common and how much trouble we usually have as a society in seeing that.

The residents we interviewed live in one of our city’s most neglected neighborhoods, isolated by poverty and crime.  Regardless of the many societal gaps represented when working inside of disenfranchised communities you will find so many good people who just want opportunity, a better life for their children, the chance to learn, a way to connect with others and give back.  These inner city residents were comfortable talking with us because they could feel our heart.  They’ve seen us around and know we care.  Their instincts tell them that we can be trusted and that we aren’t going away.  As a result they are willing to open up and risk telling us their story.  These stories help us realize how much we do have in common. They honor the deep need we all have to express ourselves and they work to bridge those gaps that keep us from coming together in a way that  serves each other.

Digital storytelling is becoming a powerful medium thanks to the web. It allows us to capture human expression and gives all people, especially the most disconnected, a chance to use their voice.  The non profit sector is beginning to understand how to leverage this medium.  Organizations like the Center for Digital Storytelling are providing technical assistance around the world.  This week we are meeting with The National Campaign out of Washington D.C. to talk about using this medium for advocacy work, a project funded by The California Wellness Foundation.

Powerful communication will always touch your heart.  A good story will always come from your heart. What I love about working inside of these communities, is that the residents will be sure they can feel your heart before they’ll tell you their story.  It doesn’t get any more real than that.

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