Arlene Goldbard Presents Digital Storytelling

March 29th, 2012

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Arlene Goldbard is not just the author of New Creative Community, she’s also a prolific blogger and community arts activist. We are proud to be her publisher, and also proud to collaborate with her and share her newest project with you.


Story Seeds: Henri & Me

Last week, I made my first digital story. At the beginning of March, I entered into a new and exciting partnership with the Center for Digital Storytelling to create StoryLab (working title), an R&D wing embodying the power of story to help bring about a democratic and sustainable future.

To prepare for our partnership, I’d already interviewed staff members, read a mountain of history, and watched a remarkable range of first-person stories sculpted from individual narratives, photographs, letters, home movies, music, and other bits of visual and auditory information. But until now, I’d never had the experience of making a digital story myself.

Over the course of three busy and stimulating days, I met other workshop participants, read aloud the brief script I’d drafted a few days earlier, received others’ responses and suggestions, revised it and recorded my narration, uploaded photographs, home movie clips, and music to cobble together a rough version of my two-and-a-half-minute movie. With bottomless generosity, the individuals tasked with facilitating stories helped me to clarify my intentions and to execute the technical moves—transitions, special effects, titles—necessary to a finished product.

Six other participants were doing all the same things at the same time, generating at atmosphere thick with intentionality and concentration. From the first instant, I felt as if I’d been planted in a nursery full of seedpods bursting with the will to germinate.

In the last hour of the last day, when all the stories were screened and appreciated, I understood how entirely apt that feeling had been. We all have many stories to tell, of course. In fact, at least half the people present in this workshop were experienced digital storytellers, now learning how to help others tell their own stories. I considered many subjects before I hit on my choice for this first outing. But whether we are talking about someone like me, constructing a very first story, or someone devising the hundredth in a personal series, the same feelings are engaged: the intimacy and vulnerability of unearthing a seed from which some aspect of your character or passion has sprouted, of shining a light on your truth; the pleasure of telling in exactly your own way precisely what you wish to share; the pride and risk of self-revelation; the delight when what is so particular to oneself resonates with others.

I can think of a million situations, a zillion contexts, in which exactly this experience of germination could initialize a process of self-directed healing, or build connections between people, or aggregate what might otherwise be dismissed as “mere anecdote” into a powerfully coherent message that needs to be heard. And I’m not the only one who sees this potential: spend some time on the Center’s website to see for yourself.

When we open ourselves to see and be seen, something remarkable happens. Trivial likes and dislikes fall away. The surface of things ceases to matter so much, and whatever is most important—most true, most real, most beautiful—occupies center stage. Mostly, these days, I’m a bit of a workaholic: so many deadlines, so many reasons to complete just one more task before I rest. But finishing my digital story left me with such a strong sense of having arrived at a destination (and that delicious fatigue you feel when attaining the summit at the end of a long hike), I actually took a day off!

Here’s my story. I hope you enjoy it. (The photos of a dandelion puff and leaves are by Jennifer Williams; the lake and trees by Eugene Beckes.)

As you’ll hear, a pivotal piece of the story unfolds when I was eleven years old. That was also the age when boys and girls started noticing each other (probably boys and boys and girls and girls too, but that took place beyond my budding awareness). I’d just turned ten when my father died, so the whole prior year was swamped in misery: in my memory, it’s one long stretch of waiting to glimpse a little light beyond the darkness and chaos of my family. But by the time I’d turned eleven, my horizons had begun to expand beyond the little world at home.

One of my strongest memories of that age is dancing—or at least pressing my body close to a boy’s body and moving while music was playing—in someone’s darkened living-room, while that someone’s parents retreated to the another room to watch TV. In that memory, this song is playing, the original, by the Teddy Bears (Phil Spector, Marshall Leib, Annette Kleinbard, just to put the ethnic cherry on the doo-wop sundae). But really, doesn’t it have to be the version by Amy Winehouse, avatar of excessively sad little Jewish girls everywhere and in all times?

READ MORE FROM ARLENE! Buy New Creative Community now and use code “storytelling” at checkout to get 15% off!!!

Acting Together on World Theatre Day

March 26th, 2012

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Cynthia Cohen, coeditor of the Acting Together anthology and coproducer of the DVD Acting Together on the World Stage has asked us to pass on some thoughts about World Theatre Day, which celebrates its 50th Anniversary this year on March 27th. This occasion was created by the International Theatre Institute of UNESCO to highlight the contributions of theatre to a culture of peace. Her comments are below.

Dr Cohen reminds us that working in zones of violent conflict, and often at great personal risk, theatre artists create and share works of great beauty that aim toward more just communities and a less violent world. In celebration of their contributions, she passes on the words of Dr. Salomon Lerner Febres, the former president of Peru’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, who enlisted artists’ vigorous participation in his country’s transitional justice process. At the December 2011 “Just Performance” Brandeis symposium,  Dr. Lerner highlighted the power of art even in the face of violence that appears irredeemable and immutable. In his own words:
Violence attacks meaning by breaking down the bonds between people and dehumanizing them. For this reason, the violent act is unintelligible. It defies understanding because it goes against our natural inclination to recognize the dignity in our fellow human beings. Nonetheless (and sadly), it continues to be a human act. Indeed, only we human beings are capable of creating, through meticulous and perverse methods, such complex, now direct, now so subtle, mechanisms for provoking suffering in fellow members of our species… Real theater is the exposure of truth through the potent act of exhibiting the symbols that give shape to experience. This occurs through repetition and, therein, ritual. It is the persistence in this ritual, the willed return in the name of rediscovering and reconstituting our human bond, that bestows upon it its great dignity, and empowers it to recover some of the meaning lost in the maelstrom of events…
Art restores meaning in bringing us, as responsible human beings, face to face with the undeniable facts and circumstances. Through this encounter with the undeniable, with our collective life as captured in a work of visual or dramatic art, we are perfecting our moral judgment and, above all, feeling the challenge and hearing the call to act, for the sake of our own ethical identities. This may be the key to the transformative power of art over a violent past that seems irredeemable, immutable, but which is always subject to the creative force of our imagination.

The Acting Together Project and New Village Press invite all readers to read the anthology, explore the resources of the toolkit, and screen the documentary in schools, organizations, theaters, and communities. To order copies, please visit New Village Press. In honor of World Theatre Day, New Village Press is offering a 15% discount on all Acting Together materials this week with the code “WTD.”

Tomorrow: Sharon Danks on Go Green Radio!

March 22nd, 2012

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We couldn’t be happier to announce that Sharon Danks, author of Asphalt to Ecosystems: Design Ideas for Schoolyard Transformation, will be featured on Go Green Radio. Over the last three years, host Jill Buck has reached over half a million listeners with a grassroots program that promotes the very best character traits in children and adults: caring for yourself and caring for others. Jill shares with her listeners a belief that simple, responsible behavior shifts are a community means to protecting human health through environmental stewardship. If you’ve been following Sharon’s groundbreaking work with the green schoolyard movement, you’ll know that Jill and Sharon share a mission. Fans of Sharon’s, fans of green schoo

lyards, fans of the book, fans of environmental education—okay, everyone!—don’t miss this!

Jill will host Sharon tomorrow, Friday March 23rd, at 9:00 Pacific Time on Go Green Radio to discuss Asphalt to Ecosystems. If you miss the live airing, don’t worry—the archived show will be available on the Go Green website soon after the broadcast.

This show comes at a perfect time: We have just received the second printing of Asphalt to Ecosystems and are happy to offer a 10% discount off of these brand new shiny copies to listeners of Jill’s show with the code “Go Green” (good for one month from original airing date).

Paper or Plastic? Have it your way!

March 14th, 2012

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Numerique - papier - un texte est un texte

photo courtesy of Remi Mathis

E-books: We’ve got them.

The debate about the merits of e-books versus print books rages on in the publishing word, the reading word, and maybe even the lay world, but what would we know about the lay world? E-books save paper and trees, say techies. They don’t smell the same, reply old-fashioned book readers. My eyes feel better, say Kindle-ites the world over. Just another screen, grumble book lovers. You’re bringing on the demise of the book, of reading, of literature! yell paper-readers. We’re hastening the future of accessibility, retort screen-readers. Only the Big Guys are profiting from your reading addictions, traditionalists argue: Beat That!

Well, e-readers win on this last point. Even the Little Guys like New Village Press win with e-books, and we hope you’re enjoying our first two releases on whatever platform you’ve chosen. By Heart: Poetry, Prison, and Two Lives by Judith Tannenbaum and Spoon Jackson, and Arts for Change: Teaching Outside the Frame by Beverly Naidus are now available from your favorite small press for your screen. Don’t worry, we still like good ole fashioned books, too.

And, as always, our Dear Readers will find the code “techie” will give them 20% more reasons to celebrate whichever format they choose at checkout for the next three days.

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