Watch “Road Hockey Stories: Episode Two – Mitch” First Goal

Here’s Episode 2 in a series of teasers for Lost & Found Theatre’s new play “Pocket Rocket” by Waterloo Region playwrights Lea Daniel and Gary Kirkham.
We will be showing all the stories we’ve collected as a pre-show treat at performances of the play April 20 to 30 at the Registry Theatre in Kitchener.
For more information and a peek behind the scenes visit the Lost & Found Theatre’s blog.

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Watch “Road Hockey Stories: Episode One – Paul”

I’m having a great time talking to people in Waterloo Region about their memories of playing road hockey
I volunteered  to start this series of short videos to help Lost and Found Theatre promote the world premiere of Pocket Rocket a new play by Lea Daniel and Gary Kirkham.
Checkout the Lost and Found Theatre blog to get a peek behind the scenes of the video series and the play.
Here’s Episode 1.

Career change … finally!

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After years of dabbling in art – everything from sculpture to play writing – and three years of tentative practice as a digital media artist, I’ve made the leap.

With the writing of my first artist statement for a grant application, it’s official.

I AM AN ARTIST.

For the seasoned artists among you I’m sure this seems naive – maybe pretentious. Why would anyone want or need to make such a declaration? For me it is a more personal than public acknowledgement of a new direction in my life … a career change. It comes at a time when one might be planning to rest on one’s laurels.

This is a frightening idea, but in the creative life work comes to us with a need to be realized.

Over the past three years my emerging career has been nurtured by the generous spirits of other artists, friends and community partners; so, I offer this in recognition of their encouragement, patience and faith.

Artist Statement

My art is centred around the personal narrative and its resonance within the large societal narrative.

Using all forms of media – still images, audio and video – combined into video, I strive to bring people’s personal stories to light and cast them as players within a community space. Videos can take the form of the traditional documentary, narrated slideshows, video installations or low fi pieces created by the storytellers using simple media tools.

Most often I work in partnership with community-based organizations to establish a project framework and recruit co-creators. I seek out partnerships that help me explore issues of social justice, human dignity and scarcity-versus-plenty. I prefer to work with groups of 3 to 10 people.

Projects follow a narrative arch beginning with story exploration, followed by media creation and/or collection, and then sharing of stories. I aim to honour people’s personal stories while bringing a new perspective to the work through curatorial practices of collection, relationship making and interpretation.

The resulting videos continue to resonate throughout the community with each viewing. The creation process is embedded in the personal narrative of each co-creator – including me.

What it means to be a friend

Social media has changed forever the meaning of the word friend, but when I think of friends I don’t picture the list in my Facebook profile. I picture the faces of people I’ve met, people with whom I’ve shared time and common purpose. These are the faces of people I know actual give a damn about me and the world we live in.

This is not to say my friends care more than others’; your friends care for you in the same way.

Physical proximity is a fundamental part of friendship and for that matter human relationships in general. When I sit across the table from someone, pass them in the street, redirect mis-delivered mail or feed their cat when they are on vacation, I’m more likely to listen to, care for, protect or share with them, simply because they are … near to me.

And that is the whole point.

The more I connect with people who are close by, the easier I find it is to understand the gap that separates me from those who are far away – the gap created by war, poverty, hunger, injustice … lack friendship.

I recently shot and produced a promotional video for the Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council. It is part their Friends of Crime Prevention campaign, created to help recognize and mobilize those who are making the place where we live safer and more secure by building community – parents, teachers, researchers, community activists and police officers. I met six new “friends” with whom I’ve shared time, purpose and values through this project.

Shortly after finishing the video I spent an evening with another group of friends and artists from the MT Space, where I sit on the board of directors. We spent the evening preparing food for our annual donor appreciation dinner. I sliced onions, chopped parsley, drank wine and sang shoulder-to-shoulder with people who share a belief that theatre and art are essential to a vibrant community life.

Both this videos are under 2 minutes. If you take the time to watch them I’m sure you’ll see the connection between the people who stand next to you and the well being of your community and your world.

It is these friends that make up the fabric of our lives and this place we call home.

Why trust is key to digital storytelling

Each time I facilitate a storytelling workshop or photo-voice project, there is a moment when I’m overwhelmed by the trust someone extends to me and others in the workshop through the sharing of a moving personal story.

It is not just the content of the story, but also the gift of trust – given without hesitation or expectation – that hits you between the eyes and clenches your heart. I wait for and relish these moments.

A while ago, I facilitated a photo-voice project with four young women on behalf of Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region, a social service agency that supports people dealing with abusive partners.
The aim of the project was to explore the signs of abusive relationships through pictures and personal reflections.

At the orientation session none of the participants indicated a they had experienced an abusive relationship. However, by the end of the one-day session all four had revealed they had been touched by abuse, either as the child of an abused parent or by an abusive partner.

The “moment of trust” came near the end of the day when one of the women slid the index card she was writing on across the table.

It read: “ … this symbolizes my journey from being a woman that was broken, with lots of emotional scars, feeling dirty and not worthy of love to becoming a woman who escaped domestic violence and is able to recognize the signs of abuse. Now I have the courage to say, do not touch me.”

In that moment I could feel the aching grip of tears on my throat like the grip of an abuser. I knew that I would never experience what this young woman had, but I would carry her story with me for the rest of my life.

Trust is one of the most important things to achieve when facilitating the storytelling process. It reveals itself each and every time without fail, but it always astonishes me with its power to move me.

Perhaps some would frame this as, “trust is something that is earned”, but I believe it is more complex . It requires faith in the process. As the facilitator I must believe the process has integrity and meaning before the members of the group can believe.

At the same time, storytellers need to be able to build trusting relationships with the other members of the story sharing circle. This enables them to tell their stories with authenticity and openness. The circle is a place where active story-listening is practiced; where stories are honoured; where stories feed other stories; where we see ourselves reflected in others’ lives. But more than anything else, when we engage in telling a personal story we must trust in the power of the story to move people.

Trust begets trust.

Please watch this photo-voice video “Signs of Abuse” and see how the “moment of trust” affects you.

To see how this work fits into the Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region campaign developed by James Howe of communicate & Howe! read James’s case study.

Stop 4 – Made in Kitchener Walking Tour

It’s hard to believe that not too long ago 1000s of people lined King Street, from Waterloo to Kitchener to watch the Labour Day parade. This video from the Made in Kitchener Project tells the story of The Clown, The Horse and The Labour Day Parade. Take a look.

Made In Kitchener

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