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The world is changing. The landscape of communication is evolving at an exponential rate, and digital media creation is riding at the head of the wave.
In the past few years, we've seen the transformation from long to extremely short-form digital content like that on Vine and Instagram, and we've experienced the rise and fall of numerous storytelling apps never to be seen or heard of again. But what remains constant underneath all the change in this digital age is the steady pulse of community storytelling.
Sharing stories is arguably the most ancient and long-lasting way of engaging and influencing emotions, values, judgments, and imaginations. But how can stories touch hearts and minds if they go unnoticed and unheard?
TechSoup's annual storytelling campaign was created to help nonprofits and social good organizations communicate differently, to build community, and to educate on how to tell powerful and effective stories for a global audience.
We were blown away by the global participation in this year's campaign. Without further ado, we're thrilled to announce the winners of TechSoup's Storymakers 2014 and to share some words on their behalf.
The winner of best story overall is "Hope House: Camp Counselor Tyron" by Stone Soup Films.
"We are beyond thrilled to accept the grand prize award for this year's 2014 Storymakers challenge. At Stone Soup Films, we are dedicated to shining a light on small organizations who are making an big impact in their communities and firmly believe in the power of digital storytelling to inspire action.
"In this short film, Hope House honored us by allowing our cameras into a maximum security prison to document their camp program reconnecting children with their incarcerated fathers. Big thanks to everyone at TechSoup — you truly are leading the way in the efforts to empower nonprofits to tell the stories worth telling," said Liz Norton, executive director of Stone Soup Films.
The winner of the digital storytelling award that promotes a youth cause or STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) is "Free Running in Baltimore" by Wide Angle Youth Media, created by Tyson Sanford-Griffin.
"'Free Running in Baltimore' was created in Wide Angle Youth Media's Mentoring Video Project Program, an advanced media production program for Baltimore city youth 14 to 20 years of age. Participants learn skills in digital storytelling, photography, video production, and audio production, and use these skills to tell powerful stories about the lives of young people.
"The film was developed by our youth participant, Tyson Sanford-Griffin, whose love of free running has been hampered by safety concerns in urban Baltimore. His story encourages audience members to make their own communities a safe place where people can feel free to go outside and run without inhibition.
"We are so excited to hear that this film has been chosen for Storymakers 2014 — your support helps youth voice be heard throughout the world. Through opportunities such as this one, we are able to help students become civic leaders in their communities and beyond — giving young people the platform to learn vital media education skills while telling powerful stories of their lives," remarked Sheila Wells, program director at Wide Angle Youth Media.
The winner of the super-short award for a story under 20 seconds goes to "Shine a Light on Avoidable Blindness" by Operation Eyesight (Canada).
"Imagine a world without light, without sight. When you are blind, it's like being in a dark hole.
"Operation Eyesight Universal is a Canada-based international development organization that works to prevent blindness in the developing world. We wanted to create a video that explains how tragic avoidable blindness can be, and we’re delighted to be recognized for our work in the 15-second storytelling category," stated Lynne Dulaney, director of communications at Operation Eyesight.
The winner of a digital story new to the TechSoup Storymakers challenge is "Dr. Mark Karnes" by Soddo Christian Hospital (Ethiopia).
Ken Amstutz, the president of St Luke's Health Care Foundation, shared with us that "this video was produced by Seth Demings, a filmmaker who visited the hospital in March 2014 and felt compelled to edit and tell some stories about what is happening in Soddo."
And the winner of the Storymakers 2014 audience choice award, voted on by the community, is "Where Manos Serves" by Manos Internacional.
"We are thrilled to have won the audience choice award for our video, 'Where Manos Serves.' While digital storytelling can be a daunting task, TechSoup's Storymakers workshop gave us the courage to actually sit down with hours of footage and photos to compile something that would briefly and meaningfully express our story.
"We wanted to show movement, and bring you, our viewers, to this remote area with us. We also aimed to show the contrast of the energy and colors inside of our community center and the outside slum area. And finally, we wanted to show the hope and progression that exists here in breaking the cycle of poverty through education.
"We came across footage of a rainbow on one of those stormy days in this mountainous region, and found that even that brief colorful sight amidst the dark clouds helped tell our story. We accept this award on behalf of the Manos Internacional board of directors, volunteers, and children.
"We are grateful to TechSoup for this opportunity, and for this award that most certainly will go a long way in the places we serve. We also would like to send a huge THANK YOU to all those who voted for our video, and to our supporters for believing in our cause! Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!" said Belinda Wells, volunteer vice president at Manos Internacional.
To these winners and all the other Storymakers 2014 participants, we're glad to have you in our community of storytellers.
Alexandra BezdikianInteractive Events and Video ProducerTechSoup Global@alebez
This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International License.