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Challenging Stigma Online: The Impact of Being Forever Known for Your Private Tale – by Aspen Baker, Founder & Executive Director, Exhale

Challenging Stigma Online: The Impact of Being Forever Known for Your Private Tale – by Aspen Baker, Founder & Executive Director, Exhale

We don't always want to be known for the most vulnerable or emotional story of our lives. New York Times best-selling author of How to Be Black, Baratunde Thurston, once asked his live audience not to tweet or record his telling of a personal story at a public venue because he's "not interested in that story blowing up and getting lots of YouTube hits. I'm not interested in being KNOWN for it...the idea of people streaming and live-tweeting and uploading this personal, intimate tale felt like a violation."

After she wrote about her abortion experience in the The Texas Observer, Carolyn Jones was shocked to watch it "spread faster than a Texas wildfire" across the internet. She wrote later that sometimes she wakes "up in a cold sweat, shocked at what I've done. Not at having the abortion -- I'm at peace with the choice we made -- but at having written about the most private and painful of traumas." 

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An Audio Interface for the iPad: The Focusrite iTrack Solo – by Ryan Trauman

An Audio Interface for the iPad: The Focusrite iTrack Solo – by Ryan Trauman

Let’s be honest. An iPad, on its own, isn’t great for audio recording. The onboard microphone can’t possibly capture good quality audio, and there’s no effective way of monitoring your audio as your record it. And yet the iPad still holds some powerful allure for many digital storytellers. Believe me, I get it. The mobility. The build quality. The compact restraint of the tablet form. The tactility of the touch interface. The constant stream of fascinating new recording apps. It’s a wonder iPad audio recording hasn’t already taken off.

Enter the iTrack Solo digital audio interface from Focusrite. The iTrack Solo allows you to connect your own external microphone to your iPad and to monitor your audio input as you’re recording. What makes the iTrack Solo such a useful tool (or any external audio interface, really) is that the it does all the digital audio processing inside the unit itself before sending the audio data to the iPad.

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Sharing My Story – by Tracy Reed Foster

Sharing My Story – by Tracy Reed Foster

Sharing my story at the Transitions Clinic Network digital storytelling workshop last spring was an awesome experience. I didn’t know what to expect when I was asked to participate. I was nervous, and yet I knew this was something I needed to do.

The Story Circle became serious very fast, and empathy was shown very quickly. We all were able to share parts of ourselves and trust that we had to bond and hold each other up, pull each other through, and then choose to become connected. I have met friends for life. Even if I don’t see my storytelling family daily, I know they are there. Yes, I did call them family, because they loved me through my sharing. They embraced me when I talked about my story and revealed parts of me that not even my own relatives know, and as I write this, I smile warmly because I feel really good about my storytelling family. This magnificent process brought me back to a time when I thought I was weak, yet I was strong and managed to endure. As I told my story, what seemed to be tears of sadness became gladness. I understood that if I had not gone through what I talked about in my story, I would not be sitting here today! I would not have met such wonderful, caring, and loving people, my story family. I would not have been given such a wonderful opportunity to learn how to write, edit, and add pictures, sound – I am creating and directing; wow, look at what life can do. What I’m saying is that all was necessary to get me to this place, and there are no mistakes. I have no regrets, especially in my story, because it’s mine.

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Writing Women into History – by Kayann Short

Writing Women into History – by Kayann Short

“Where are the women?” is the question behind Women’s History Month each March. The absence of women from much of recorded history and scholarship has left gaps that undermine women’s progress toward equality. While the conditions under which women’s history has been lost, erased, and suppressed may be familiar—prejudice of all sorts; sexual violence; second class status; lack of time and resources—such conditions continue to impact the inclusion of women in private and public discourse today.

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Patients first for integrated care – by Joe Sammen

Patients first for integrated care – by Joe Sammen

In 2013, the Colorado Health Access Survey (CHAS) included questions around mental health for the first time. The results were significant: one out of every four Coloradans experienced one or more days of poor mental health during the past 30 days. I’m not really surprised by these findings. Nearly everyone I know, including myself, has faced at least one bout of stress, depression, or emotional instability at some point in their life.

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Stitching Together the Stories of StoryCenter's First 20 Years – by Joe Lambert

Stitching Together the Stories of StoryCenter's First 20 Years – by Joe Lambert

This weekend I found myself writing a quasi-academic article about the 20 years of the work of the Center for Digital Storytelling. The argument was more or less that we have watched four significant phases in the growth of our work, each with a slightly different emphasis in our work, and in each phase an arc of expansion, a wave of interest, that surged and receded. It was an interesting way to understand what an organization, and a movement, can accomplish over two decades. 

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Black History Month: Stories and Storyteller Reflections

Black History Month: Stories and Storyteller Reflections

February is Black History Month, and we couldn't imagine a better way to celebrate and honor it than by sharing some incredible stories from our All Together Now project on civil and human rights. With great admiration and appreciation for all the stories and storytellers in the project, we have selected a few stories to share with you here. To view more stories or contribute your own story to the project, please visit http://cowbird.com/saga/taking-action.

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The Mahi-Mahi & The Map: Digital Storytelling for Science – by Shawn Margles, Coastal & Marine Planning Scientist

The Mahi-Mahi & The Map: Digital Storytelling for Science – by Shawn Margles, Coastal & Marine Planning Scientist

Can storytelling help scientists convey even complex and contentious topics like marine spatial planning?

In my experience, storytelling not only helps, it is essential if we want broader audiences to understand and support our work.  Revealing something personal about why we do what we do can connect audiences with our messages and disarm adversaries.

Consider the field of marine spatial planning.  Here, disconnects between scientists and audiences can be glaring.

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An Interview with Ernest Kirkwood, Transitions Clinic Network Digital Storytelling Workshop Participant

An Interview with Ernest Kirkwood, Transitions Clinic Network Digital Storytelling Workshop Participant

Transitions Clinic provides intensive case management support and comprehensive health care services to formerly incarcerated women and men. StoryCenter is working with the Transitions Clinic Network and City College of San Francisco on an online curriculum development project, which trains formerly incarcerated women and men on skills to become Community Health Workers at clinics like Transitions. The online courses feature digital stories by women and men, talking about their experiences with prison and the impacts of prison on their health. Ernest Kirkwood created his digital story last fall, as part of this project. During the workshop, Tim Berthold with City College of San Francisco interviewed participants; below is a partial transcript of that interview. 

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“Truth isn't always beauty, but the hunger for it is” – by Rob Kershaw

“Truth isn't always beauty, but the hunger for it is” – by Rob Kershaw

Somewhere in a box, stored either here or there, is a framed, aerial photograph of an offshore semi-submersible drilling rig – the Ocean Ranger – being pulled out to sea just off the coast of Newfoundland. The derrick in particular, if I remember correctly, is lit soft orange by early morning sunlight and the ocean is dead calm.

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Your First Microphone: A Review of ATR2100 – by Ryan Trauman

Your First Microphone: A Review of ATR2100 – by Ryan Trauman

Between our voices and our digital stories, there is a microphone. It’s important to get it right. If you are someone just getting your bearings as a digital storyteller, or someone who needs to buy several mics for a group of storytellers, you’ll certainly want to consider the Audio-Technica ATR2100. Not only does it sound great, but it’s also inexpensive, durable, and easy to use.

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Turn Toward What You Deeply Love – by Joe Lambert

Turn Toward What You Deeply Love – by Joe Lambert

A Voice through the Door – Rumi

Sometimes you hear a voice through the door
calling you, as fish out of water
hear the waves, or a hunting falcon
hears the drum's Come back. Come back.

This turning toward what you deeply love
saves you. Read the book of your life,
which has been given you.

A voice comes to your soul saying,
Lift your foot. Cross over.

Move into emptiness
of question and answer and question.

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All Together Now: Featured on Upworthy

All Together Now: Featured on Upworthy

Today is Martin Luther King Day. Fifty years ago, the Civil Rights Movement changed laws and minds, securing basic rights for many, through the actions of people who did what they knew to be right.

At the Center for Digital Storytelling, we’ve been running a project called All Together Now, collecting intergenerational stories of civil and human rights from around the country. 

To celebrate Dr. King, and everyone who takes action – big or small – we’re excited to partner with Cowbird.com to expand this project into a Saga called “Taking Action.”

Whether you took part in an economic boycott, risked your life to register voters, organized interracial dinner groups in a segregated town, moved to the back of the bus in solidarity, advocated for the rights of immigrant youth, taught kids how to grow vegetables in an urban food desert, or stood up to bullies, we invite you to share your story about taking action for what you know to be right. Or, share a story about a time you wish you had, but didn’t. Or, tell us how the Civil Rights Movement has impacted your life. Or, tell us how your life has been transformed by the actions of others.

Dr. King dreamed about a day when we would recognize each other by “the content of our character,” and storytelling allows us to do this – stories help us find out who we really are.

Please add your story to the saga and spread the word through Facebook and Twitter, tagging your posts with #alltogethernow and @cowbird.

Here's how to add your story to the Saga: http://storycenter.org/atn-cowbird

Today is a beautiful day, and we’re excited to see your beautiful stories.

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I Too Dream an American Dream – by Eugenia Gardner

I Too Dream an American Dream – by Eugenia Gardner

I responded to an email from a man I had never met. Joe Lambert, Executive Director of the Center for Digital Storytelling, had sent an email to past participants of StoryCenter workshops promoting an upcoming session on civil rights that would commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington. My response was simple; I said that I probably knew a few people in DC and other cities who would be interested in attending a workshop.

My family’s history and active involvement in the Civil Rights movement began four generations ago in Selma, Alabama where my great-grandparents and their children tended cotton fields. As a child, I heard their intergenerational stories about sharecropping, Jim Crowism, and “Daddy King” around the dinner table. My grandmother, who recently turned 92, participated in the Bloody Sunday March with John Lewis and Dr. King. In the 1970s, when Shirley Chisholm ran for president, years before there was Hilary Clinton, my mother and Ms. Shirley took me with them to voter registration events every Saturday. I don’t think I knew what voting was, but I knew Dr. King had given up his life for my right to vote. I also knew that Dr. King and his fight for black civil rights would, in many ways, define me.

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To Stand Now Is to Tell Our Stories – by Tommy Orange

To Stand Now Is to Tell Our Stories – by Tommy Orange

I’ve been so excited about the good work being done through the All Together Now workshops across the country. Thinking back, I can’t really say I’ve had an opportunity – or I haven’t seen it ­– to take a stand, and to engage in the necessary civil disobedience required to go against the American grain. Even if it’s “only” telling our stories. If telling our stories is subversive to an ultimately damaging master narrative, then let our voices be like a march, and let them be heard by as many people as possible.

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Stand Up Now: All Together Now – by Daniel Weinshenker

Stand Up Now: All Together Now – by Daniel Weinshenker

I grew up in Palo Alto in the '70s and '80s. I think there were three students out of a graduating class of 300 that weren't going to a 4-year college. I'm not sure I knew a single person who was joining the military. There was one publicly known homeless resident in the town, whom nobody actually believed was homeless (word around town was that he was a writer doing research for his next novel). And there were maybe ten African Americans in my entire high school. 

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16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence: Day Sixteen Continued

16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence: Day Sixteen Continued

StoryCenter is currently honoring the global 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign, November 25 – December 10, with a special series of blog postings. We invite you to leave comments and share these posts widely, to honor courageous women and men around the world.

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