"Opinions build walls, stories build bridges." Christina Baldwin, Storycatcher
     I just started thumbing through the Center for Digital Storytelling’s new edition of Digital Storytelling: Capturing Lives, Creating Community. I didn’t make it through the first paragraph before I could hear author Joe Lambert’s voice and see his face. No, really! Sort of…
     The summer before last I went out to Kean University in NJ for an educational conference on digital storytelling. Higher ed and storytelling, that was a combination I hadn’t seen before and besides, Joe Lambert was going to keynote. Unlike other keynoters at conferences I’ve attended, he stuck around for both days. He sat in on sessions, shared anecdotes and his experiences, ate with the participants, and we ended up flying back to O’Hare together where we continued our lengthy conversation before he continued on to Berkeley. So from Woody Guthrie to union ballads to the Weavers to Spalding Gray’s one man shows, I can see and hear Joe as I read through the introduction. As for higher education and storytelling, that’s just what I got in NJ in the summer of ’05 and what I’m reminded of as I go through this new edition.
     We in the K-16 educational branch of digital storytelling owe a lot to the CDS and its cofounders Dana Atchley and Joe Lambert. Their commitment to social activism and theater put a name and a level of legitimacy on making movies and moving pictorial narratives that academia couldn’t provide. When they talk about students, they are mostly talking about people in the neighborhood who are not enrolled in a school of any kind. And those neighborhoods are on six, maybe even all seven continents now. When they talk about progress, it’s not AYP. They empower people to be heard; they empower us to hear each other. Through that they encourage positive change for humanity’s sake.
     You can get a taste of their storytelling cookbook by downloading the introductory chapters from
     Catch a story. Build a bridge.


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