|Heart & Soul Storytelling for
Community Planning Overview
If possible, gather a group from your community to watch the slideshow together—storytelling is, after all, social, and that means we need someone to listen. If you watch all the videos and do all the exercises, you can count on adding at least another 30 minutes to the 33 minutes the slideshow itself takes. You can choose to watch parts of the video stories, or to watch them on your own if you need to compress the time. You will, however, reap the benefits of engaging with the stories from our project and partner communities and from answering the questions and doing the exercises.
1. You will need to have Internet access in order to watch the videos and to visit the websites referred to in the examples. The web stories are not embedded within the slideshow—you will need to access them by pausing and typing in the URLs on the slide and/or right here.
2. Bring a pack of sticky notes and pens.
3. Choose a note keeper who will jot down your responses to the questions and keep track of the discussions.
Each of the following PAUSES corresponds to a particular slide, which is indicated. At times, you’ll be asked to click a link to another site. To return to the slideshow, close the window of the example and you should be returned right back on the slide you left.
SLIDE 5: Video Story
View “What Makes Damariscotta Damariscotta?” http://youtu.be/mm6Za3_rGC4 Duration: 5:54
This show was fun for the community to make and to view while also giving a first view into “What Makes Damariscotta Damariscotta?” according to residents themselves. Storytelling does not necessarily mean long serious narratives—you can also choose to pull very short clips together to create a community story mosaic of this sort to celebrate as much as to capture information.
SLIDE 8: Video Story
Pause to watch Palace Diner.
Graduates of the SALT INSTITUTE made this film for Documentary Studies in Portland, Maine (http://www.salt.edu/)—note that these creators are highly skilled documentarians. To achieve this level of polish, you would want to engage experienced digital storytellers. (We will discuss digital storytelling near the end of the slideshow.)
The diner is one of those iconic places every town has (or once had) and loves—what place in your town would you wish to capture on film as a way to explore shared values of your community?
SLIDE 11: Slideshow Story
Pause and watch Starksboro’s celebration of the stories. http://www.slideshare.net/ortonfamilyfoundation/starksboro-stories-art-soul-civic-engagement-presentation
This is a text-and-image slideshow produced by Middlebury College students who spent a semester as part of a course interviewing citizens and capturing the stories of the Starksboro community and publishing them in book, video and other visual forms. As with the Palace Diner video, this sort of storytelling does take a good deal of time and effort and planning, but has powerful results within a community that takes pride in its stories and interest in hearing from each another.
1. Hand out 5 sticky notes per person.
SLIDE 14: Group Exercise
Mapping Your Connection Storytelling Exercise
Duration 10-15 minutes
1. Together as a group, brainstorm a list of story “hotspots,” places in the community that are iconic or figure significantly in your town’s sense of self.
2. Choose one of those spots and have each person tell a one-minute story about that place, illustrating something she/he values about the place and/or community.
3. Do not interrupt the storytellers but do make sure they finish within the one-minute time constraint. Hang onto comments and discussion until all the stories have been told.
4. After everyone shares a story, imagine that place ten years into the future. What will that story be? Spend five minutes talking about the difference between now and then. Do take notes—you might well wish to return to this exercise.
SLIDE 19: Group Exercise
Identifying the Values in Our Stories
This exercise will give you a glimpse into one of the ways we gather and discuss the values carried within our stories. When we incorporate this exercise into Heart & Soul storytelling activities, we add steps such as typing the values into Wordle.net to produce a word cloud that will place the words in relation to one another according to the frequency of their occurrence. See Slides for examples of Wordle word clouds created by project communities.
2. Think back to the stories you shared earlier. Each of you write down 5 values, one to a sticky note, that you heard expressed through those stories. By values we mean the customs, characteristics and places that you care about and that create a unique sense of place. These values can also be— those that people would like to see in the future.
3. Stick all the notes to a wall (or tabletop) and arrange them according to categories or similarities that emerge.
4. Discuss what patterns you see, what differences—any surprises?
5. How might you dig more deeply into one of these values? Can you come up with additional examples and stories of this value at play in town?
SLIDE 21: Video Story
Pause here to watch a Heart of Biddeford story.
A high school student interviews her grandparents. This video was created as part of a class at Biddeford high school in digital storytelling.
Imagine how youth in your community could play a role in capturing and telling the stories, in bringing unheard voices into the community conversation about what matters and how the future might look. Imagine how forming connections through their storytelling gives youth a stake in the town and in their own future.
SLIDE 33: Question
Take a few minutes to discuss which of these reasons for engaging with Heart & Soul storytelling resonate with you and what you know of your community:
Storytelling brings in new voices.
Storytelling creates connections.
Storytelling builds empathy.
Storytelling reveals our values.
Storytelling teaches us the consequences of our actions.
Storytelling can give us hope for the future.
Storytelling engages youth.
Storytelling transforms planning.
Storytelling is action.
Do some of these reasons seem less plausible in your town?
Are there additional reasons you would like to bring storytelling into your community planning efforts?
SLIDE 39: Video Story
Pause to watch Voices of Golden.
Slide 40: Question
Stop for a moment to discuss how your town seems to view the past.
Do you have an active oral history group? A historical society? Do they collect stories of the past?
What is your community’s relationship to the past: primarily nostalgic? Reserved? Conflicted? Balanced?
How might that relationship influence planning for the future?
SLIDE 47: Video Story
Pause to enjoy a digital story by Victor middle schoolers.
These students interviewed resident Hunter Grosse about the iconic Emporium where he works during summer vacations from college.
How might a college student talk about an iconic landmark in your town?
What kinds of questions might you ask someone about that spot to get at what it means to the community?
SLIDE 48: Discussion
Pause here to discuss difficulties you might face in your community around storytelling. Write down three potential challenges.
Spend 5 minutes on this question.
SLIDE 50: Discussion
Pause here to share examples of community storytelling you’ve experienced or seen. Write down examples that come to mind, and share them with us! You might come up with some great ideas to tuck away for the project-planning stage.
Spend 5 minutes on this discussion.
SLIDE 55: Video Story
Pause to watch the video from our project town, Golden, Colorado “Golden Vision 2030”.
See how the storytellers have expressed their connection to the City in mini-interviews pieced together.
SLIDE 64: Questions
Pause here to consider which of the above kinds of stories—story circles, story interviews, written stories, visual stories, and multimedia stories—do you want to find out more about?
Which seem to be possible matches for your community?
Which strike you on first glance as challenging for your community?
(Once you do a survey of your community’s storytelling resources, you might find that certain storytelling types will be possible. Do not let your first response be your only response, but it is important to check in with your gut feelings about storytelling.)
Spend 5-10 minutes on this question.
SLIDE 64: Final Questions
What questions do you have for us about storytelling?
What questions do you have for your community about community storytelling?
What excites you about Heart & Soul storytelling and what it could mean for your community?
Name three people you know who might be interested in watching this slideshow and participating in a project incorporating storytelling for community planning.
Happy Storytelling Adventuring!
Please refer to our Heart & Soul Handbook for more information: http://www.orton.org/resources/hs_handbook