Mary Foltz, David Fine, Sarah Stanlick, Juan Palacio Moreno, Elijah Ohrt, and Meg Kelly (Lehigh University)
During the summer of 2015, a group of Lehigh University undergraduate students designed a digital story-telling project that invited community members to narrate stories about the city in which the University is situated. With a specific focus upon countering stereotypes about the South Side of Bethlehem, PA, undergraduate students interviewed multiple community members and small business owners and edited film footage to produce over one hundred short clips that celebrate our local community. Ultimately, students created a youtube channel, called “The Bethlehem Unbound Storytelling Project,” for edited interviews that focus on two different types of community stories. One part of the channel houses residents’ favorite memories of Bethlehem while another section offers interviews with local business owners about the history of their stores and their thoughts about the community. “Using Digital Storytelling to Bridge the Town-Gown Divide” will discuss successful collaboration between faculty, staff, students, and community members during the creation of this project and will address how the medium selected for the project gives voice to marginalized community members thereby countering a trend to overlook the diverse voices of our city. First, we will explore the value of student-driven project design and the import of ensuring that a collaborative project maintains a focus on reciprocity by creating a digital archive that is of use to both the local and University community. Second, we will discuss the specific formal choices made in the creation of our digital stories that give community members ownership of their narratives.