Mixed Media Storytelling
by Dr. Sarah Marie Wiebe
for Reimagining Attawapiskat
a research project by Dr. Sarah Marie Wiebe | http://www.sarahmariewiebe.com/
The act of speaking about and representing communities involves language and imagery. Widely circulating discourses, both textually and visually, in turn shape public perception and awareness. Mixed Media Storytelling is a transmedia prism that utilizes a variety of digital communication formats to reframe asymmetrical narratives and restore balance in how we tell stories by inviting participant input at all stages of the collaborative storytelling process. It does so through iterative, ongoing dialogue and collaboration. Mixed Media Storytelling involves several multilayered components: a) interrogation of how mainstream media portrays specific communities during times of duress, b) dialogue with communities directly affected by these narrative portrayals in order to unearth what they reveal an what they obscure; and c) intervention on asymmetrical narratives with situated stories with the aim of speaking to a range of audiences and improving policy processes and outputs, though interactive and multimodal media platforms.
Cast in this prismatic light, citizens who are directly affected by media portrayals become agents of change in a deliberative process. Through Mixed Media Storytelling, citizens, researchers and project facilitators create opportunities for co-learning and co-creation of knowledge. This process creates a sense of community amongst involved parties while honouring the diverse voices and bodies of knowledge that affected citizens and communities bring to bear in order to improve injustices. As an academic-activist scholarly approach to community collaboration,
Mixed Media Storytelling is an intimate lens that examines the lives of those affected by power asymmetries in order to reframe discourses that circulate globally. Mixed Media Storytelling is both a lens and a process that creates space for diverse ways of knowing. As a co-production involving participants from a range of backgrounds, it is an approach that shares a responsibility to tell more nuanced, multifaceted and prismatic stories. By shedding light on the broader socio-economic and geopolitical environments that shape and inform the underlying conditions that affect communities with unique environmental concerns, Mixed Media Storytelling seeks social and ecological change. It does so by inviting multiple parties into a conversation about problem identification and resolution. As a multimodal avenue, this method highlights the ways in which those affected are experiencing and resisting public portrayals as well as sensing policies in their daily lives. By focusing on lived-experiences and multiple modes of expression through this multilayered method, Mixed Media Storytelling encourages a range of storytellers to become part of a conversation about how to interrupt power asymmetries in order to seek meaningful systemic ecological change locally and globally.