Thursday, March 30, 2006

Return from the Charleville Generational Learning Project

Well I've returned from Charleville with a swag of digital stories almost ready for burning to DVD and some cherished memories of some very special culturally significant places in Bidjara country. The Charleville Generational Learning project was a joint program of Indigenous and Community Health agencies in Charleville.

Liam Galton at Mt Tabor Station recording arrival.

My part in it was to facilitate the creation of series of Digital Stories by the young people taking part with the support of their community Elders. The whole team drove out to Mt Tabor station two hours drive north east of Charleville on the western side of the Carnavon National Park. Mount Tabor Station is owned by the Bidjara Council and is managed as a working cattle station and to preserve the important cultural heritage sites on it and surrounding properties.

Reeghan interviewing Aunty Carol at Boonoroo Spring

Shaun recording vision Carnavon Rock Shelter

It was a real buzz to be with the young and old as they explored sites like Lost City, Goats Rock, Bulla Cliffs, Boonaroo Springs and the Carnavon Ochre Pots. One of my challenges however was to facilitate the creation of stories about these sites and this country with a group of country town youth whose principle interest was football. Still we managed. As everyone started to absorb some of the specialness of the sites they were given much to think about. Digital stories with their emphasis on oral storytelling and visual creativity seemed a perfect match.

We had Multimedia Lab support from the Qld State Library in the form of 5 Sony Vaio laptops and from West End Community House with 2 Mac laptops, scanner, cameras etc. The visits to the cultural sites gave participants wonderful material for both scripts and imagery. Each of the community elders was assigned a site and one or two young people for the project. At the sites the young people took photos and interviewed their elders. Once back to the Mt Tabor station house scripts were written and photos selected.

Creating scripts on the Qld State Library Vaios at Mt Tabor

One interesting Digital Story practice consideration was around two of the participants writing their scripts about a site, the Carnavon Ochre Pots, before they went there. Although initially a challenge, with a little support to imagine how they might experience the site from the perspective of their main passion in life - football, they did really well. In fact, the digital stories that present an experience through the metaphor of a personal interest or passion or often the best.

Our show and tell session on Friday evening at the CWAATICH (Charleville and Western Area Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporation for Health) centre was wonderful. Fed with marinated kangaroo kebabs and a great salad, my wonderful volunteer, Christabelle Baranay, and I wrestled with the vagaries of Microsoft MovieMaker, recalcitrant laptops, a different data projector and a hastily thrown together sound system to show the participants Digital Stories in an open air movie theatre under the western stars.
Perhaps the most dramatic moment for me was when one of the parents who had earlier been complaining about the possible content of one of the stories came up to give me a promised opinion. I held my breath and waited. "Well, I said I'd give you my opinion......... I think .......... they are wonderful. You've done a really good job."

Mind you the job is not finished yet. First get the finished movies approved and then publish the DVD's. Then get them up on the State Library Queensland Stories site if everyone agrees.

I'm really looking forward to getting back to Charleville again and doing another project with a focus on the Elders' stories. Hopefully we can get the funding because it would be good to extend the training component of the project. I believe Digital Storytelling has tremendous potential as a community cultural development tool.


Sunday, March 12, 2006

I've got those Sunday afternoon digital storytelling blues

Yes it is Sunday afternoon and I am working. I'm getting ready for my great expedition to Charleville for the Generational Learning Digital Storytelling project. What pieces of digital equipment should I take? Do I have a card reader for the camera in my new mobile phone? Is there any coverage in Charleville anyway?

If you are noticing a slight edge to my voice you are probably right. I've got nothing to worry about really however. I am sure we will complete the project with a spirit of adventureness, cooperation and flexibility that will amaze even me.

I'm also writing scripts for a Digital Storytelling 'How to Do It' DVD which I am beginning to 'shoot' with SpeakOut on Tuesday morning. It's a really good follow up to the First Person conference and Master Class. It's getting my thoughts about DS well and truly in order. I'll let you know, Dear Blog, when it is complete and ready for distribution.

One good thing is that I will be able to put excerpts from both the Chermside and Logan Digital Storytelling projects into this DVD. It should be great.

Am I getting too digital Dear Blog? I hope not. Let me reassure you.

This week I've really enjoyed some performing and improvising. I have a brand new story based on a nursery ryhme thanks to the children at Centenary Christian Kindergarten at Jamboree Heights. I had been planning to tell one of my regular stories which starts with the nursery ryhme 'Mary Had a Little Lamb' but before I could start the song one of the kinders said, "Is it Baa Baa Black Sheep?" Being someone who holds the principles of improvising close to his heart and well and truly displayed on his performer's sleeve I said, "Yes!" and we created a brand new story about what happened when the little boy who lived down the lane dropped his bundle of black sheep's wool in the mud puddle. Ah, the joy of living dangerously, creatively at least.

The Enchanted Forest project at Ashgrove State Primary is going swimmingly as well. I've completed the stories - well final drafts - and the Year 3's practice sessions are going well. I wish I could take you along to the opening of the playground when the toadstools and stories and play equipment are all installed Dear Blog. Well maybe I can.


Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Digital Storytelling Advances

So much to write about. So little time. The 'First Person' International Digital Storytelling Conference in Melbourne was such a buzz. Good speakers, great networking, excellent master class. I've written my notes from the conference and put them on the email list if you would like to read them. Many more members are welcome.

Thank you Arts Queensland for the Professional Development Grant to get the conference and be there. What a pleasure it is to live in such a civilised country that a State Government will support working artists in such a way. Congratulations.

Since I've got back to Brisbane my Digital Storytelling practice is buzzing.

We completely completed the 'Loving Logan - Adapting to a New City' project. Got together with most of the participants, projected all of the movies, thought about the differences between the beginning and the end and talked over food. It felt good.

We started the West End Community Digital Storytelling Project just last night. It's already brought new people into the storytelling group and should be a great project. Thank you Gambling Community Benefit Fund for the equipment.

Any one want to join in the West End project? Should be a buzz. Be quick though. Zip me an email or give me a ring before Tuesday 7th March, 2006.

Come the 16th, I'm off to Charleville to run a project there with the Generational Learning Project. Christabelle Barranay is volunteering. Thank you Christabelle.

Anyone got a spare Dataprojector they can lend out now and then in Brisbane? I managed one for last night but it was only a home projector.

Anyone know of some cheap insurance for work equipment?.