Digital Storytelling ds106 Week 1: Bootcamp


This is my first weekly summary, in response to ds106 Week One: Bootcamp. I’m in the first week of the ds106 syllabus and anyone who started the course on time is 10 weeks ahead of me. That’s the beauty of participating in this online Digital Storytelling course as it’s wide open to anyone and participants can pick their own timing.

This week’s media were inspring and thought provoking. Robert Hughes on the purpose of art and that meaning is created by individuals bridging a sense of history and an experience of the world. He articulated what we aspire to do on this blog. And Stephen Johnson on the recurring patterns and places where inspiration and innovation occur and the importance of connectedness: “chance favors the connected mind.” In John Cage’s Rules for Students and Teachers, rule #7 -“the only rule is work. If you work it will lead to something” – resonates with Ira Glass’ advice shared with Phonar students, “work hard, be prodigious.”

Here are my Daily Creates for this week:

tdc299 – Take a photo of something that represents how old you feel.

tdc233 – Show us your keychain and tell us a story about the keys and/or things you have on it.

Here are links to my posts on:

My revised About page is here.

In reflecting on the first week of ds106, what was hard was deciding to video myself and post it on YouTube, especially talking about my keys. This week’s assignment taught me rudiments of using iMovie and uploading to YouTube and embedding a tweet in a blog post. Mostly mechanics of the various sharing technologies and tools. I’m looking forward to becoming more familiar with them so that the tools aren’t in the way and are serving me better, so I can focus on storytelling.

Phonar Creative Workshop #4: A Personal Story

photo school-2293


Shattering glass disturbed me, but on that hot August night in Atlanta, I was lulled back to sleep by the humming air conditioner unit in the bedroom window. I was alone in our Midtown apartment across from PIedmont Park. My musician husband was out playing a gig and not due back until the dark hours of early morning.

Crashing glass again! Through the fog of sleep, I thought there’d been yet another car wreck on that busy road on a Friday night. More glass breaking, and now I’m wide awake.

I went to the sunporch off the bedroom to peer out toward the street, which I could barely see from my angle. I cranked open the window to look and hear the street noise.

More crashing sounds, and the shouts, “Fire! Get out!” I thought, no! the building next door is on fire! I pulled on jeans and grabbed my wallet and keys. I wonder why that was my natural instinct when I’m thinking someone else’s building is on fire?

I went to the front door and opened it. The stair landing was all dark – no lights at all. I took the time to lock the door, if you can believe that, and then I ran down the now smoky dark stairs. I burst out the door down below to find a crowd of people on the street and fire trucks battling the blaze on the first floor and then up and then bursting out through the third story roof and windows. I hadn’t heard the firemen pounding on my door earlier. I was the last one out of the building.

The fire had started on the floor below ours where a couple was running an illegal restaurant out of their apartment.

I sat on the hill across the road, watching the blaze. My partner finally battled through the roadblocks down the street and found me. We sipped coffee supplied by the Red Cross truck and thanked them for the fifty dollars they gave everyone to find someplace to stay the next night.

I thought of our wedding pictures and the box of handmade lace of my great grandmother’s.

On the second day after the fire, we went in to see what could be salvaged after the looters took what they wanted. Odd things were gone from our smoky water soaked rooms: an owl, stuffed and mounted, illegally, and left with us by a friend passing through. A leftover bottle of wine gone from the fridge.

The blender full of black smoky water remained, as did bookshelves full of art books with coated paper pages permanently glued shut. A light fixture crashed through the glass top table in the dining room. The piano full of water.

Most people lost everything. We were lucky – everyone was lucky. No one was hurt, no one lost lives. The blue sky and clouds showing through the roof a reminder that the stuff is of no significance. We began again, with fewer possessions to take care of and our lives ahead of us.

Phonar Creative Workshop #3: Unphotographable – “Confederate Intrenchments (sic)”

Cemetery gate

The assignment was to choose a subject from Michael David Murphy’s “Unphotographable.” I selected:

“This is a picture I did not take of a six-foot long tree limb as thick as an arm, crashing to the ground and missing my head by inches while I stood beside one of those official historical signs you see dotting former battlefields of the South, this one labeled “CONFEDERATE INTRENCHMENTS.”

For phonar #3, the visuals are photos I did take in the Appalachian foothills of Alabama of Confederate soldier graves in the stillness of the forest. Tree limbs crash down all the time. In the forest it’s possible to move beyond the “official historical signs” and find where real people lived and loved and fought for what seemed right, and went to dust.

Stanzas from “Lorena,” a song popular amongst soldiers in the Civil War – both North and South – sheds light on lives and loves lost when duty calls.

Oh, the years creep slowly by, Lorena,
The snow is on the ground again.
The sun’s low down the sky, Lorena,
The frost gleams where the flow’rs have been.
But the heart beats on as warmly now,
As when the summer days were nigh.
Oh, the sun can never dip so low
A-down affection’s cloudless sky.
A hundred months have passed, Lorena,
Since last I held that hand in mine,
And felt the pulse beat fast, Lorena,
Though mine beat faster far than thine.
A hundred months, ’twas flowery May,
When up the hilly slope we climbed,
To watch the dying of the day,
And hear the distant church bells chime.
Yes, these were words of thine, Lorena,
They burn within my memory yet;
They touched some tender chords, Lorena,
Which thrill and tremble with regret.
‘Twas not thy woman’s heart that spoke;
Thy heart was always true to me:
A duty, stern and pressing, broke
The tie which linked my soul with thee.
It matters little now, Lorena,
The past is in the eternal past
Our heads will soon lie low, Lorena,
Life’s tide is ebbing out so fast.
There is a Future! O, thank God!
Of life this is so small a part!
‘Tis dust to dust beneath the sod;
But there, up there, ’tis heart to heart.

Phonar Creative Workshop #1: Journey to Work in Another Time

road - untitled shoot-0865

The first Phonar assignment – actually a pre-task – was to “tell the story of your journey to school … If you don’t go to school, tell your journey to work, or to anywhere for that matter.”

My journey to work is a bit different. It’s not about a commute to a building or even a walk down the hall to virtual office. My journey to work – one of the many things that are my creative expression inspiration – takes a different road, into the past, exploring lives and work that went before. In pre-Civil War northern Alabama, in the Appalachian foothills, the place of work had no indoor plumbing. Water was drawn from dug wells. The smokehouse was smoking all through the winter. If the rains didn’t come – as they didn’t come this year all across the US – then the crops didn’t “make.” Every day spent at this old farm homestead property we are restoring is an adventure into the past, into discovery, and into understanding work and life as it was before.