Survivors in Motion - Digital Storytelling Workshop

Since last year’s tornados, the OU Writing Center has been working to find a way to put its services to use in the community recovery efforts.  The OU Writing Center’s campus mission is to help students, faculty, and staff with a wide variety of campus-related writing projects.  Beginning last July, the OU Writing Center has been offering three-day digital storytelling workshops to survivors, caregivers, and first responders of the May 2013 tornadoes.

Research shows writing is a powerful healing tool in helping people recover from disasters such as last year’s tornadoes.  After extensive training with the Center for Digital Storytelling (Berkeley, CA), the OU Writing Center developed a workshop that asks survivors, caregivers, and first responders of last year’s tornadoes to tell stories of their recovery experiences.

In July, workshop participants created stories that focused on objects, people, and experiences that played a role in their recovery experience so far.  One participant, Terri Bryant, used an piece of art she created from storm debris to tell the story of a man who appeared minutes after she emerged from her neighbor’s storm shelter to help her turn off a gas leak caused by the tornado hitting her home.

Digital storytelling combines narration, images, video, and sound to tell a story and convey a message.  Participants use their own images and video in conjunction with a story they write and record during the workshop to create  a 3-to-4 minute video to share with others as they wish.  Rachel Jackson, Community Project Developer for the OU Writing Center, says, “while the finished stories will be powerful, the process of putting the digital stories together is the most important part.”  

According to Jackson, “In writing about recovery, workshop participants experience recovery.  Creating these narratives supports participants’ recovery process.”  Jackson adds that all of the participants in the July workshop expressed surprise at how much the workshop helped them to discover a deeper sense of well-being as their recovery process continues.

OU Writing Center Director, Dr. Michele Eodice, says the workshop is an extension of the support OU provided for the recovery effort in the weeks after the May 2013 tornadoes hit.  “We know that recovery is a long-term process.  We want to create a space where people can write and share stories that celebrate their strength and resilience.”

he OU Writing Center will provide participants with a user account for a web-based video editing software they will use to create their digital stories.  Sponsors include OU Zarrow College of Social Work and the OU College of Architecture, Division of Regional and City Planning.  Food and beverages will also be provided.

The workshop – “Survivors in Motion” – will be held three Fridays in a row, November 7th, November 14th, and November 21st, from 1:00 – 6:00 p.m. at the Moore Library (225 S. Howard Ave.).

This workshop is free and open to members of the public.  Minors 16 and older can attend with parental consent.  Participants are asked to bring their own laptops or tablets.  A limited amount of laptops will be available for those who cannot bring their own.

Participants can register for the workshop by filling out the registration form at, or by contacting Rachel Jackson, Community Project Developer, OU Writing Center, with any questions – (405) 325-2936 or (405) 205-6048.