The Real Family Project: Being Thankful for Birthdays

The Real Family Project: Being Thankful for Birthdays

Every time I'm on Facebook I notice who is having a birthday.  Social media is mainly distracting, but that little convenience, being reminded about a friend's birthday, somehow balances out the distractions.  It feels great to say Happy Birthday to someone every day of the year.

I believe all lives deserve a shout out, at least once a year, if not 365, by a large number of people, who simply say, it is great you exist.

Tatiana turns 42 on Wednesday, November 26.  In 1972, that date was on a Sunday.  I imagine myself that weekend in 1972, aware that the birth mother was preparing to have a child, perhaps she had gone into labor the day before.  I had asked to be there, but perhaps the home where Tatiana was born was not so keen on the idea of the birth dad's being present, or perhaps it was decided by our parents it was not the best.  I know I never saw Tatiana at birth.  I wonder what that would have been like.

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The Real Family Project: In Tatiana's Words

The Real Family Project: In Tatiana's Words

A couple of weeks back, I accidentally kicked my son’s twenty-five pound weight. It still hurt a couple of weeks later, so I went to a doctor. At the doctor’s office, I was given the medical form to fill out. I realized that this was the first time in forty-one years that I actually could fill out this form. I had all of the information. I briefly wondered if I should call Joe.

This is what it means to be adopted.

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Presenting The Real Family Project

Presenting The Real Family Project

We are writing to invite you to become part of a journey with us: a journey to explore the story of two people finding each other across 40 years of time, to look at the issues of adoptees and their families, and to make sense of what it means to construct family in the twenty-first century. 

Our names are Tatiana Beller and Joe Lambert.  We are both writers and media professionals.  We are both steeped in the issues of story, of life, of culture.  We were both born in Texas.  We both have boys, 19 years old, one Sebastian, one Massimo Sebastian, born 2 weeks apart.   

Joe is Tatiana's birth father. Tatiana is Joe's biological child. Father? Daughter? The names give us trouble.  We are strangers who know each other in a very peculiar, a very profound, way. 

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Why Sound? – by Joel Knopf

Why Sound? – by Joel Knopf

One fall morning, I step outside my door and listen. I’m amazed by how many sounds I hear. A bird calls; another answers. A gaggle of school children moves left to right, full of laughter and overlapping conversation. A dog howls and a woman says to a stranger, “Sorry, she’s really into squirrels.” And how could I have ever thought there was only one wind? This morning, the wind is a pastiche of rustles, slow and fast.

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Youth in Papua New Guinea Speak Out About Sexual and Reproductive Health – by Julia Sidney Mayersohn, Marie Stopes Papua New Guinea

Youth in Papua New Guinea Speak Out About Sexual and Reproductive Health – by Julia Sidney Mayersohn, Marie Stopes Papua New Guinea

World Contraception Day (September 26th) marked the premiere in Port Moresby of a collection of moving digital stories created by youth peer educators from around Papua New Guinea. The videos, which offer rare and thoughtful insights into deeply real issues that affect adolescents all over the world – peer pressure, first boyfriends, and fear of unwanted pregnancy – were shown to a theatre full of students and dignitaries, as well as members of the press and media, as part of a film festival organized by the United Nations. 

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Media Services – Digital Storytelling at Community College of Denver

Media Services – Digital Storytelling at Community College of Denver

As a learner-centered college, CCD continuously strives to improve student outcomes through innovative learning techniques.

Digital Storytelling has been demonstrated to increase students' engagement and retention, and has become an invaluable tool in our arsenal.

For more than 20 years, the Center for Digital Storytelling has worked in hundreds of colleges, universities, and K-12 school districts across the United States and around the world to introduce the multimedia curricula into the classroom. Students learning Digital Storytelling come to understand the art of collaboration, shared responsibility, and accountability for their projects.

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Amy Hill: 2014 AHN Awardee

Arts & Healing Network is delighted to present one of the 2014 AHN Awards to Amy Hill, storyteller, documentary filmmaker, public health consultant and co-founder of Silence Speaks. In 1999, after ten years working in community-based public health projects, Amy co-founded Silence Speaks, an international participatory media initiative offering a safe, supportive environment for telling and sharing stories that all too often remain unspoken. Silence Speaks surfaces personal narratives of struggle, courage and transformation and works to ensure that these stories play an instrumental role in promoting gender equality and human rights. Since 2005, Amy has continued to lead Silence Speaks and other global health and human rights-related projects as a staff member at the Center for Digital Storytelling. Amy has overseen the use of storytelling all over the world in places like Nepal, Ethiopia, Uganda, Brazil and more.

To learn more about Amy Hill, please visit the Silence Speaks web site where you can also watch some of the digital stories that have been recorded from around the world.

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The Power of Youth-Centered Advocacy – by Elizabeth Peck

The Power of Youth-Centered Advocacy – by Elizabeth Peck

Editor’s Note: Elizabeth Peck is the Public Policy Director of the Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy, a partner on the “Hear Our Stories” project. A partnership of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, the Care Center, the Center for Digital Storytelling, the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program at Hampshire College, the Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy, the Mauricio Gastón Institute for Latino Community Development and Public Policy, and the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, the project aims to recalibrate the existing conversation about teen motherhood from stigmatizing young moms to promoting their sexual and reproductive health, rights, and justice.

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Too Big to See – by Jamie Mayo

Too Big to See – by Jamie Mayo

Sometimes racism is so big you don't notice it. I grew up in an all white town. I didn't think about it much. It was just the way it was. It didn't mean anything. After all, we sang, "Jesus loves the little children, all the little children of the world. Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight," every Sunday. And that's what I knew about diversity. But what I didn't know then was that it was an intentional racist act that ensured that my hometown was all white. By law, black people had to be out of town by sundown. Until 1968. And that is the way it was.

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Apogee MiC: A Review – by Ryan Trauman

Apogee MiC: A Review – by Ryan Trauman

STRENGHTS: Extremely Portable. Sounds fantastic. Great build quality. Cardioid pickup pattern. Device-powered.

WEAKNESSES: No headphone monitoring. Records one-person at a time. Price (though a good value).

RECOMMENDATION: For portability, durability, and sound quality, it’s a great option.

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Digital Storytelling Community Gathers in Athens To Discuss How the Crisis Has Shaped Our Work – by Joe Lambert

Digital Storytelling Community Gathers in Athens To Discuss How the Crisis Has Shaped Our Work – by Joe Lambert

On May 8-10, more than two dozen countries were represented at the Digital Storytelling in the Time of Crisis conference hosted by the Laboratory of New Technologies in Communication, Education and the Mass Media and the University Research Institute of Applied Communication of the University of Athens with the collaboration of the Hellenic American Union. 

Speakers were asked to situate their work against the backdrop of the sustained economic and social crisis of Europe and beyond. Greece has been amongst the hardest hit countries, with massive cuts in the public sector, and the decline of GDP, employment, and social programs reaching Great Depression levels. The University of Athens itself weathered a five month strike by administrators earlier in the academic year, forcing conference organizers to calibrate the conference ambitions appropriately.

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Hear Our Stories – Featured on Connecting Point

Hear Our Stories – Featured on Connecting Point

Last summer a group of young teen mothers from Holyoke participated in a program called Hear Our Stories: Diasporic Youth for Sexual Rights and Justice. The program was funded by the Ford Foundation and is the result of a partnership between WGBY, UMass Amherst, the Center for Digital Storytelling, and The Care Center in Holyoke. These women had an opportunity to share their story of becoming teen moms through the use of digital technology and on May 7th will share these stories with the public.

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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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It’s time to talk and to listen – by Sally J. Laskey, National Sexual Violence Resource Center

It’s time to talk and to listen – by Sally J. Laskey, National Sexual Violence Resource Center

April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) and National Child Abuse Prevention Month in the U.S. I remember a time when Sexual Assault Awareness Month was mostly about talking for me. As a social justice activist trying to end sexual violence, there certainly has been a lot to talk about. I can still feel the vibrations from the first Speak Out against rape that I ever attended. Indeed, it moved me to continue to tell stories of resilience and resistance. I believe stories have power. Sharing them promotes healing. 

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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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