Europe of Our Lives: Loughborough University’s Digital Storytelling Workshops

In February 2018 I took part in a series of Digital Storytelling Training Workshops led by Dr Antonia Liguori, a researcher in Applied Digital Storytelling at Loughborough University.

Part of the ‘Europe of Our Lives’ project, the workshops aimed to teach digital storytelling skills to 30 or so adults from across Europe, many working in adult education, so that they in turn can pass those skills on to others.

We were each asked to bring along an object of importance to us which connected us to our history and heritage.  I chose the key to the Old Rectory, a local museum I’ve  volunteered at for many years.  Through a series of storytelling activities and tutorials, we were shown how to craft a script about our objects, how to record this script as a voice over and how to add images and other media to create a film we could share with others.

The majority of us had never made a film before, but the finished results, viewed in a dedicated screening afternoon, were stunning.  The act of watching them together also created a connection between us – a group of diverse people separated, in some cases, by language – in ways I would never have imagined.  The screening was a truly magical afternoon and I came away from it with increased confidence in myself as a storyteller and a deeper understanding of how people are fundamentally the same, with the same needs and desires.

The possibilities for applying digital storytelling to community work are endless and I look forward to passing the skills I learned on to the children and adults I work with.  I have no doubt at all that they’ll benefit from the experience as much as I did.

You can watch my film – ‘Discovering the Past’ –  here.

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Coalville’s Famous Fifty Exhibition

I’ve just heard about a short film that’s been released by The Hero Project about their brilliant Famous Fifty Exhibition special event held in Coalville Market one cold night last November.

I visited the event with my friend Liz Waddell and we were blown away by the whole thing: the creativity each organisation showed in decorating their soldier; the effort Deana and her team put into transforming Coalville Market into trenches, a cinema, a thinking booth, and then turning the whole thing into a darkened tunnel, visible only with head torches; and the fantastically creative mind that came up with the idea for the whole shebang in the first place.  She really does think outside the box, does Deana, but the most inspiring thing is the way she manages to bring her ideas to reality, no matter how unlikely that might initially seem.

I felt very privileged to be involved with the Famous Fifty project, commissioned to run a couple of writing activities for local residents and, later, to dash in a single day between 3 schools and their youth base in the Market Place, prompting young people to imagine themselves in other people’s shoes and share their thoughts in poetry or prose.  Later, I created a ‘found’ poem from snatches of their work, and their writing and mine became part of the exhibition.

The Famous Fifty soldiers are currently on display at the Coalville Co-op in Bridge Road, but plans are afoot for them to move to Yorkshire Sculpture Park very soon.  In the meantime, The Heroes are working on their next project – Fifty Famous Females, a celebration of women past, present and future – to mark the centenary of the Representation of the People Act of 1918 which first allowed women to vote.

Here’s a link to the film about the exhibition (and if you look carefully behind the soldiers on display, you’ll see occasional glimpses of a film of me reading my poem.)