Eric and I have an ongoing conversation about how to feel when a story idea, or project idea of ours, shows up somewhere in the world, authored by someone other than him or me. In journalism, this phenomenon is referred to as “getting scooped,” and it’s one reason I prefer more in-depth journalism projects– because it’s less about getting it first, and more about doing it well.
Nonetheless, it happens all the time that I’m innocently surfing the web, or strolling down a Berkeley ave, only to come across something that I thought was MY original idea, but was created by someone else, who actually followed through with the thing I’d only casually considered. Sometimes, Eric takes these experiences to mean that it’s time to throw in the towel. Perhaps that’s my first instinct too, but then there’s this other feeling that arises– a thrilling feeling that goes something like this, “Wow! We must really be on to something– these folks are thinking along the same lines! We’ve GOT to connect with them.” One woman’s bummer is another woman’s networking opportunity.
All of this is to say that a few of these instances have arisen lately, the most compelling of which is The Center for Digital Storytelling, in Berkeley, CA.
“Don’t you LIVE in Berkeley?” you might be wondering. And yes, we do. But we only recently came upon this cool undertaking– here’s their mission statement. Read it and rejoice:
The Center for Digital Storytelling is an international not-for-profit community arts organization rooted in the craft of personal storytelling. We assist youth and adults around the world in using media tools to share, record, and value stories from their lives, in ways that promote artistic expression, health and well being, and justice.
The Center for Digital Storytelling offers all kinds of services– from “story screenings” (coming soon to a conference near you!) to media design and production work. The most Story-Farm-relevant work they do, though, is their workshops– which are designed to help individuals creatively tell their personal stories in digital media. Check out the story “Sofas,” about a man’s experience with homelessness. His voice alone would have made me love this piece.
We’ve now got 2 remaining months in Berkeley, CA, and The Center for Digital Storytelling is among those places/people we need to connect with before we go. I love what they’re doing. And I’ve found that however kindred a project or story is, it’s always a little bit different from my own version of an idea. It’s just like wine, and cheese, and vegetables–their taste varies based on the climate and soil and air. Maybe we could think of this as narrative “terroir.” The taste of an idea depends on where it’s grown.