These are my notes from Joe Lambert’s presentation, “The Place of Story,” at the 21st Century Learning @ the West Lake Expo held Oct 31 – Nov 3, 2009 at Xi Hu, China, also known as West Lake. West Lake is in the center of Hangzhou, China, which is about an hour by bus southwest of Shanghai. MY THOUGHTS AND COMMENTS ARE IN ALL CAPS. I presented in advance of Joe for this breakout session, and recorded this session as an audio podcast which I will post later.

Joe Lambert is the executive director of The Center for Digital Storytelling. online bio states:

Joe founded the Center for Digital Storytelling (formerly the San Francisco Digital Media Center) in 1994, with wife Nina Mullen and colleague Dana Atchley. Together they developed a unique computer training and arts program that today is known as the Standard Digital Storytelling Workshop. This process grew out of Joe’s long running collaboration with Dana on the solo theatrical multimedia work, Next Exit. Since then, Joe has traveled the world to spread the practice of digital storytelling and has authored and produced curricula in many contexts, including the Digital Storytelling Cookbook, the principle manual for the workshop process, and Digital Storytelling: Capturing Lives, Creating Community.

Born and raised in Texas, Joe has been active in the Bay Area arts community for the last twenty-five years as an arts activist, producer, administrator, teacher, writer, and director. In 1986, he co-founded Life On The Water, a successful non-profit production company that offered a broad array of programs serving San Francisco’s diverse communities. Joe has produced over 500 shows, ranging from theatrical runs, single performances, special events, citywide festivals, subscription series, conferences, and digital story screenings. Prior to his career in the arts, Joe was trained as a community organizer and assisted in numerous local, statewide, and national public policy campaigns on issues of social justice and economic equity. He has a B.A. in Theater and Political Science from the University of California at Berkeley

Starting with a story of a fish, about the Buddha’s reincarnations
– Once upon a time, the Buddha was incarnated as a fish
– But the pond had a dry year, and all the water dried up

Our work focuses on helping people find their voice again through the uses of new media
I have been doing this work in the US and around the world for the past 15 years, worked in 38 countries and in all 50 states of the United States

I will talk a little about the model of our curriculum, and I will use a video from many years ago that shows what workshop products from my organization looked like

CNN story of “The Digital Storyhouse”

Elements of the digital storytelling curriculum:
1- elements of story
2- story circle
3- production
4- celebration
we focus on a group process of feedback, making the group the expert on the best way to create the story
we focus on a production methodology that emphasizes elegant design, not the technology
we make sure everyone in our workshop environments / schools: every single person completes a story

with this approach, we have been able to apply digital storytelling to many different contexts
– creativity and personal voice: in an arts context, it has given many artists a chance to express their personal stories
– social change and civic engagement: in many environments, it is used to make stories about issues that affect communities or affect the larger society
– media literacy and technology education:
– planning, portfolio and assessment
– healing and public health
– broadcast and citizen media projects

While much of our focus has been on local production, small projects, we have also been fortunate to work with organizations as large ad the BBC to create country-wide programs that capture stories from aound the the nation, specifically in wales: www.bbc.co.uk/digitalstorytelling

I want to show 1 story that I like a lot, because it uses one image to tell the story

This is a man talking about his schoolhouse from many years before when he was a child: Flashback by Luean Sheen

These kinds of simple stories all many people to be able to participate in the digital world

We believe the issue is not about digital literacy in the specialization of the art forms of digital media, but is a universal right to speak in the language of film for everyone in the world

Towards that end, we have put a lot of emphasis on digital storytelling to broaden digital literacies in education
– through this conference, through Wesley’s presentation, you can see there are many resources available to learn about and utilize digital storytelling

I call this the place of story, to talk about place-based learning and mobile media
– engaging students outside the classroom
– capturing stories that celebrate community assets and explore local history
– connecting students to real world policy
– engaging multigenerational dialogue
My work has aligned me with the educational movement called “place-based learning, ” getting students out of the classroom
My work has focused on how our mode of living in the suburbs has affected our lives
This is a photograph of a glypth that seen from the air, you can recognize as a human being playing soccer
My view is that we are disconnected from each other in many of the ways we have organized our communities
– we have our problem of not having places to go to share our stories, in the same way we used to do historically
So I began a national project, to help others who are planning the design of communities and the redesign of communities
www.storycenter.org/placemeant.html (The Placemeant Project)
the stories that we have collected in many communities, like New Orleans as an example, become a discussion about the way a city should plan

if you go to New Orleans, you will see signs in certain neighborhoods, you call on your cell phone and you can hear the story that we have helped to collect
– these stories are shared with the city planning bodies, and people are able to leave their own story if they decide to be involved in the discussion which these stories engender
– through doing this, we are seeing that mobile media has a way to bring back important memories that can become a part of the living architecture of the community
– this is an area in which we are very interested in finding partners and developing partnerships, and we would love to do this in China

A final story: 30 years ago I was in Houston, Texas, and I had been working with the Chinese consulate that had just been formed in Houston

China Daily article: China, US celebrate 30 years of maritime trade
– recalling that a COSCO merchant ship named Liu Lin Hai called on the Seattle Port in 1979, becoming the first Chinese vessel to arrive in the US in decades…
– I was asked by the Chinese consulate to come up with an educational project focused on this
– My idea was to collect a textbook set
– So I put a big box out and collected 4 tons of books
– But I was not a very smart student, I didn’t think about how you were going to ship 4 tons of books to China
– As luck would have it, the Liu Lin Hai came to the Houston port
– So we drove a truck with all the books and put them on the ship
– 2 months later I received a letter from the President of Phu Don University, thanking me for sending these books to start this conversation between Chinese education and US education
– I will finish by saying I am sure my inspiration as well as now for being here in Hangzhou, is that I believe the face of the 21st century is going to be shaped by students like you
– I know the work between US and Chinese people to bring these 21st century skills is very important. Thank you for the honor of being here.

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