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Digital Storytelling - creating an archive of members’ lockdown experiences

Updated: Jan 5, 2021

For our July meeting, we welcomed our first online guest speaker, Dr Charlie Davis from the University of Nottingham. Charlie explored the potential for digital technologies to bring people together to share life stories. Stories provide emotional connections that can trigger a response in others. They also give us the chance to leave something behind about what it’s like to live through this point in history.

We recorded the first part of our meeting and you can listen here . Charlie kindly donated his speaker’s fee to Nottingham Children’s Hospital Big Appeal.

In the second part of the meeting, Charlie helped us explore how the Beeston WI blog and Zoom can be used to connect and find stories, in the process creating an archive for future generations.

We talked about the fear of not having anything worthwhile to say (not true, what’s mundane to one person is the most interesting to another!) and the possibility of sharing stories anonymously within a larger group, or in a more visual form. 

And we heard about some of the things you’ve been doing. Michelle’s got a shoe box of lockdown memories and Jenny’s kept a journal for the last 20 years that she hopes to share with her grandchildren. Nicky shared an article about the psychological impact of the pandemic (grief, worry & anxiety, relationships, loneliness and mental health). Carmel’s been forced to soak pulses because of supermarket shortages – an everyday happening perhaps, but a story with layers which sparked laughter and prompted stories from others. And if  - like me - you had no idea what Charlie meant when he said he’d condensed the curriculum into baking fifteens, here’s a recipe!

So far, we’ve had 6 brilliant contributions to our members' ‘covid-19 isolation experiences’ theme. Some found the writing process therapeutic and we hope the posts will become a valuable resource to look back on. However, it’s a big step to go from chatting over a glass of wine at our meetings to sharing personal stories and emotions on the web. Understandably not everyone feels comfortable with that. So members came up with some great ideas for things they’d like to do:

  • Create a composite story using photographs that capture members’ lockdown experience.

  • Share an anonymous extract from their diary, details of life events that couldn’t take place or have been put on hold, or a word/sentence of what lockdown’s meant. Collectively these capture the diversity of experience, positive and negative. They can also be turned into a wordcloud.

  • Create a visual representation of what lockdown’s been like (e.g. take photos, put them in PowerPoint, record a voice over, et voila you’ve got a video!)

  • Use the audio recording feature of Zoom to find and capture stories (Think Radio 4’s The Listening Project!)

As a WI, we’d love to have something to remember this period in history by. We don’t have a meeting in August, so it would be fantastic if you feel able to join in with one or more of the above!

If you have a photograph(s) that provides a snapshot of your life over the last few months, please send these to Likewise, any negative/positive words, or longer extracts. We’ll also gladly set up a zoom meeting for you in twos or threes if you’d like to record a conversation in Zoom. Remember -  all of these can use just your first name, or be completely anonymous if you’d prefer.

Thank you, Charlie, for sparking these ideas. We hope to share more stories here with you soon! 


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