One of my main motivations for creating Stories21 has been to create a space where an individual digital storyteller might be able to find an active community of other storytellers. Almost anyone could take the initiative and surf the web long enough to find all sort of lessons about storytelling, recommendations about photo/video hardware and editing software, and examples of other people’s digital stories. And yes, Stories21 hopes to be all of those things, too. But being part of a community requires something else. And to tell you the truth, I’m not sure I know what that is. But I want to find out what it takes to help build a place where a community of storytellers and coalesce and thrive.
Ideally, I’d like Stories21 to become a place where you can share your stories and trust that people will see them. And you can rely on that same community for feedback about your stories-in-progress, for ideas about what sort of stories other people are telling, and a place where you can count on honest feedback offered with your best interests in mind. I’d like to experiment with community activities where anyone who’s interested can create and share a story created in response to a group story prompt. I’d like to see if there’s enough interest to break you all into small pods of storytellers to work together throughout the whole process of creating a story—sort of an online version of a small face-to-face workshop model.
But these are just my ideas. And only a few of them. I’ve got so many things I think would be fun/cool/valuable/productive for an online community of storytellers. But I’m also hoping that you will be invested in helping to shape the activities and makeup of what this community might become.
So how can we make that happen? I don’t have any guarantees, but I do have an initial plan. We start small, build a regular foundation of participation, and build from there.
- First, we need to get people actually visiting the site and sharing it with others.
- At the same time, I’m hoping that you will want to leave comments on at least some of the posts.
- Once we’re starting to get enough traffic and participation on individual posts, I would like to add a “forums” section to the site where you can enter into discussions about particular posts or ideas you yourself might want to introduce. You might be looking for some ideas about places to share your stories. You might ask about the right recording setup for your particular situation. You might have a question about a snag you’ve hit with a specific piece of hardware or software. You might ask about places to seek funding for a larger scale project you’re working on. You might want to solicit advice about an ethical quandary you’ve encountered or wish to avoid. There’s just no way for me to predict what sort of resources or interaction you’re going to want. Up to a point, I can make an educated guess, but that doesn’t get us very far. I’d much rather see the forums as a place that grows a bit more organically.
- If the forums do become an active and useful place for people to interact, I’d like to experiment with some smaller, private forum group where people can enact a more intimate process where you feel safe sharing some of those earlier, more raw parts of the process in a small group. Sort of an online version of the StoryCenter’s story circle. You would also get feedback about your script, ideas you have for visuals, and drafts of your story as you’re creating it.
- Finally, there might be a chance for storytellers to actually meet in person. That might take the form of several people agreeing to meet-up while attending the same conference, or possibly getting together for a small storytelling workshop in a shared space for a few days. This face-to-face part of the plan is all pie-in-the-sky stuff, as far as I’m concerned. I’m just writing about it here to help you see the scope of the long-term possibilities for this community.
So that’s a lot of hope. But at the moment we are at zero. Which means that I have a lot of work to do. As we get things off the ground here, I’ll do my best to respond to as many of your comments as I can.
So do you have any ideas about how to create a better sense of community around Stories21? Post your ideas in the comments below.
(image credit: “170615-N-ON977-0209” by COMSEVENTHFLT via Flickr.)