Storytellers for Good

Do you tell good stories? Tell stories for good.

The Storytellers for Good program (S4G) supports students with skills in digital media to produce stories about students, alumni, and faculty exploring social change at Brown.  

Storytellers are the voice of Brown’s social change community. Their stories can be found on Swearer Sparks, a new website launched in May 2014 to inspire and connect the social change community at Brown.

FEATURE: "Storytelling Initiative Receives Global Innovation Award," January 2015

Explore this page:

About the Program

Storytellers participate in weekly meetings in order to build skills and hear the feedback needed to produce their individual stories. The production of these stories includes research; storyboarding; interviewing; editing media through rounds of feedback; and producing a final piece for the web.

On finding a space to explore storytelling:

See video

In addition to regular peer critique of their work, Storytellers are also connected to a powerful network of alumni and professionals working in the fields of media, storytelling, and social impact. These professionals lead workshops and serve as mentors for students as they sharpen their narrative voice and technical skills in digital storytelling.

Through their work, student storytellers have the opportunity to build a multimedia portfolio; gain exposure to an audience of thousands; and work on a creative, supportive, and fast-paced team.

FEATURE: "Photo essay spotlights civic action" via Brown Daily Herald, October 2014

On their favorite stories:

See video

How to Apply

Applications will be judged on the following criteria:

  • Demonstration of technical skills (writing/journalism, video production, audio production, photography, illustration/animation, or other forms of digital storytelling) and/or the ability to identify and craft a strong narrative
  • Experience in non-academic writing skills strongly preferred, such as creative fiction and nonfiction, journalism, blogging, etc.
  • Curiosity and passion for connecting with others
  • Strong interest in the work of organizations and ventures with a social mission
  • Manages commitments gracefully with attention to accuracy, details, and deadlines

Expectations:

  • This is a semester- or year-long position with a firm 10-hour/week commitment, including weekly 1-2 hour meetings.

Previous involvement with the Swearer Center and ownership of technical equipment are not required.

Graduate students are welcome to apply.

Now accepting applications for the 2015-16 academic year. Apply here and submit materials by August 23, 2015.

Nominate a Story of Social Change

Do you know someone making a difference on campus or in the world? 

The Storytellers for Good program accepts nominations for stories about social change at Brown. We're looking for stories of all shapes and sizes, focused on social change work from a variety of perspective and disciplines. Anyone can nominate a student, alumnus, faculty, course, or organization/program and our student storytellers will explore the possibility of working with them to create an amazing digital story.

Click here to nominate. Stories are currently being collected for Summer and Fall 2015. 

Storytelling Speaker Series

Each semester, the Swearer Center hosts speakers and discussions on campus in order to explore the intersection of media, storytelling, and social impact. Register below!

Speakers

Sarah Koenig: Women in Radio
Monday, March 30, 4-5pm. Salomon 101.

 Sarah Koenig is a producer of This American Life and host of the new podcast, Serial. Koenig will be speaking about her career in radio and the power of storytelling. She began as a reporter for the East Hampton Star, then later went to work for the New York Times. In 2004, she started at This American Life and in October 2014, Serial, a spin off podcast she hosted was released and soon became the number one podcast on iTunes. Sponsored by Women's History Month and the Swearer Center for Public Service. 

Workshops

Ethical Storytelling with Allie Wollner '10
Friday, February 20, 2-3:30pm. Swearer Center for Public Service (25 George Street).

What does ethical storytelling mean to you? What does it look like? How does it sound? This workshop will explore the ethicalquestions that arise when shaping narratives out of truth, fact, and other people's stories. Misrepresentation, oversimplification, cultural appropriation, power dynamics, assumption--we will discuss how to navigate issues like these with integrity, and open up a dialogue about crafting narratives that are honest, informed, and empathetic. Allie Wollner '10 is an educator and creative nonfiction writer pursuing her MFA in creative nonfiction at Ohio State University. Much of Allie's creative work focuses on San Quentin State Prison, where she has taught both academic and creative writing since 2011. Space is limited; please register here. 

The Moth @ Brown
Workshops: February 26-27; Performance: February 28, 7:30pm, 

The Moth is delighted to be bringing a free 2-day workshop to Brown University! The workshop will teach the fundamentals of live storytelling over two days – February 26th and 27th. On Saturday, February 28th, participants can test out their new skills by throwing their name in the hat to tell a five-minute story on the theme TRANSFORMATION at a live Moth StorySLAM on campus. Registration for the workshop is extremely limited and opens at 8pm on Wednesday, February 18; click here. The StorySLAM is open all.

Personal Memoir as Documentary Storytelling with Filmmaker Debbie Goodstein ‘84 
Wednesday, April 22, 2015, 6-7pm. Swearer Center for Public Service (25 George Street).

How do you turn your personal stories into a documentary with a public audience? Sometimes our most compelling stories come from personal experience, yet they also come with considerable challenges. We will discuss how to navigate this process, the power of story structure, and the personally transformative experience of making personal stories public. Debbie Goodstein ‘84 is a writer/producer/director who is best known for the films "Voices from the Attic,” which tells the story of her family’s experience hiding in an attic for two years during the Holocaust, and “Mighty Fine” - a semi-autobiographical narrative feature. She is currently working on a sequel to "Voices" which will be distributed throughout Europe as a part of a special selection by the Berlin Film Festival. Space is limited; please register here.

Current Storytellers

Yelena Bide '15. Yelena grew up in Swaziland, where she attended the United World College of Southern Africa. A Canadian-Béninoise with a love for languages, Yelena studies International Relations and is writing her honors thesis on the Chilean student movement, examining how social movements can generate radical political change. At Brown, she has worked with BRYTE as the program's head coordinator and as travel editor for Vagabond, a student publication. She is obsessed with podcasts and BBC radio, and is excited to produce stories about social change happening on Brown's campus and beyond. Mentor: Jen Galvin '95, Film. 

Isabel DeBre '18. Isabel grew up in Los Angeles. A freshman at Brown, she plans to concentrate in Literary Arts and International Relations, and to unite her love of storytelling with her interests in world affairs. Isabel’s fiction and poetry have been featured in several literary magazines, and she has been recognized by the National Young Arts Foundation and the National Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. For several years, she has been writing articles on global human rights for Care2.com, an online community dedicated to social justice causes. She has also worked for Human Rights Watch, and the International Rescue Committee’s Refugee Resettlement department in Los Angeles. As a Storyteller for Good, she believes that ethical stories represent the ideal agent of social change, and she’s so excited to contribute to this discourse at Brown. Mentor: Alessandra Wollner '10, Writing

Stefania Gomez '17. Stefania was raised on Chicago’s South Side, where she was lucky enough to be involved in Chicago’s spoken word and activism scene. She auditioned and formed a team of poets at her high school and competed in Louder Than A Bomb, the world’s largest teen spoken word festival. During her first year at LTAB, she individually placed in the top ten poets in the state. LTAB made clear to Stefania that creating a platform to centralize and amplify marginalized or underrepresented narratives is radical and important work, and is what she wants to spend her life doing. She is excited to be starting this work with Storytellers for Good. At Brown, she is concentrating in Literary Arts and Ethnic Studies and also produces audio stories with Brown Student Radio and Now Here ThisMentor: Megan Hall '04, Radio.

Sophie McKibben '16. Sophie grew up in rural Vermont, where she spent her time cross-country skiing, running a national literary magazine for kids, and organizing community-based services for military families. After spending a semester working on an organic farm, and another learning about government in D.C., Sophie finished high school at Red Cross Nordic United World College in Flekke, Norway, where she was one of two Americans and lived on a fjord. At Brown, Sophie has worked with the BRYTE program, co-directing BRYTE Summer Camp, a 6-week academic enrichment summer program in Providence for refugee youth. She has also worked as a storyteller, highlighting the voices of those engaged in social justice work. Mentor: Caitie Whelan '06, Writing

Liza Yeager '17. Liza started high school in her hometown, Corvallis, Oregon, and finished at the United World College in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina. During the two years she spent in Mostar, she co-led a student radio show focused on social activism and organized a citywide English tutoring program. At Brown, Liza will probably concentrate in Development Studies and will definitely continue exploring how storytelling can be used for social impact. She is also involved with the Brown University Mediation Project (BUMP) and Space in Prisons for Art and Creative Expression (SPACE).  Mentor: Rachel Hulin '00, Photography

Meet our past storytellers.

Become a Story Mentor

During the program, students have the chance to connect for an hour each month with a mentor working in the field of digital storytelling.

If you are interested in becoming a mentor, please email Alexandra_Braunstein@brown.edu to learn more.