Hello CTC VISTAS. the Grand Rapids Community Media Center is involved with so many things, it is hard to keep track. Right now, I am in the editing process with my GLBT Digital Storytelling class. The kids are super cool. One girl is doing a documentary on her mother, a woman involved in the underground GLBT scene in the early 90s in GR. She has brought in footage from crazy fashion shows that her mom used to model at, and has done some interviews with her old lovers and friends. Her mom is a woman of wisdom, with a cigarette in one hand and a glass of wine in the other. This is turning into more of a documentary than a digital story, but I am totally ok with that. The student is enjoying the experience, learning about video, getting a story out there, and that is what is important. Other students are sticking to the original format, with topics like skateboarding and after school foam dagger fighting. Good stuff.

I have also starting working on a project with the Allegan County Mental Health Association. We are making a documentary on people with mental illnesses and trying to debunk the word "crazy". We have interviewed six people that are bi-polar and some who have dealt with schizophrenia. They are functioning in "normal" society just fine, and they are coming forth with their personal stories. It is awesome.

I am also working with the Mayor's Youth Council, a program where high school kids have a voice in the Grand Rapids community. We are following the kids through the interview process of getting on the council, and will continue to document events throughout the fall.

Kids from the summer programs are returning, and have taught them how to use Lunch Boxes, which are devices used for stop-motion animation.

Since the many churches of GR have a monopoly over our public access station, us gay ladies have decided to hop on the train. We are starting a queer tv show that will highlight issues on GLBT topics, and do movie and music reviews on GLBT culture.

Tomorrow we have a show at the theater called HipCool. It is a tribute to the Beat Generation where we will have poetry readings, experimental video, and live music. As the lighting director I have been setting the lights for the show, and have gather experimental video to project on various wall spaces.

So, overall the GRCMC has kept me busy and always learning. Soon I will be teaching a lighting class to youth and adults, and will begin an adult GLBT Digital Storytelling class.

Excited for the NAMAC conference, look out Texas, yeeha.

Comment from Kevin Palmer on September 22, 2007 - 11:04am

Hey Sarah! That GLBT documentary the girl is working on about her mother sounds awesome. Last year I remember a lot of digital stories students worked on in one of my after school programs would turn into documentaries by virtue of just putting in more time and passion. It's a weird line between documentary and digital story.

It's really good to hear GRCMC keeping you busy doing some awesome work. Is any of it online? It'd be great to check it out.

See you at NAMAC in Austin next month for a mini-VISTA reunion!

Comment from Elisha Durrant on September 26, 2007 - 11:45am

Do you have a site that the digital storytelling about GLBT is going to be posted? Here at Tincan we have what's called the Queer History Project as part of our online archive . We work with a local youth center for the GLBT community and I think they would be very interested in your project.

Comment from Morgan Sully on October 2, 2007 - 3:26pm

your work looks AWESOME. I'm slightly jealous. foam daggers, gay mamas and beat generation parties? sheesh. hip AND cool.

here's a link to the GLBT stories i helped with last year:

I also worked with a gay man with bi-polar - he hopes to start a digital storytelling group for glbt folks with depression:

have you thought of collaborating with the local churches? I know in rural communties, they can have a LOT of connecting power...

In SD (not that it's rural) we had SD Elements who worked regularly with us at the Center. In fact, they had their Sunday worship service at our center auditorium:

anyway, looking forward to seeing you at the NAMAC conference!