Formed in 2012, Community Story Collective specializes in community engaged arts activities with marginalized groups using participatory media and storytelling processes. As a collective, we have collaborated with other artists, and explored how different art forms intersect with digital storytelling to create new artistic possibilities. We have worked as Artists in Residence in locations such as hospitals, community health centres, libraries and non-profit organizations. These residencies enable us to spend more time in a community, and to gain a deeper understanding of the issues that matter to the people who live, work and play there. We have produced large archives of digital stories that offer a broad perspective of a community.
About the Artists
In 1998, Jennifer LaFontaine created a community media program at Central Neighbourhood House, a non-profit organization in Toronto. For ten years, she taught black and white photography and digital storytelling in the Women’s Program as a way for women to share about their community, highlight important social issues, and celebrate their strengths. The peer leadership programs she designed taught newcomer women from diverse cultural groups to co-facilitate multilingual, intercultural digital storytelling workshops. These programs enabled women to come together across diverse language and cultural differences, and find connections with each other. During this time, Jennifer was an artist in residence for six years with the Outing the Arts project, at the 519 Community Centre, using photography, digital storytelling and zine making with LGBTQ seniors. She also worked as an artist in residence at the Container Project, a community media lab in rural Jamaica.
Emmy (Emmanuelle) Pantin began designing and delivering community media workshops in the late 1990’s. As a youth, she helped launch Venus, a young women’s health zine, working with an editorial collective of teen girls. In 1998, Emmy attended the Gulf Islands Film and Television School Queer Youth Media Program. Since then, she has lead workshops for youth and adults about community radio, super 8 filmmaking and zine-writing. Emmy holds a bachelor’s degree from Trent University in Cultural Studies, with a focus on post-colonial theory. She developed community organizing skills as a tenant organizer, working with private and social housing tenants to improve their living conditions. In 2010, she facilitated the North Kipling Towers Storymapping Project, working with area youth to share the impact of Toronto’s Tower Renewal project on them and their community. After years of community radio production, Emmy holds a post-graduate certificate from Humber College in radio broadcasting.
With Jennifer’s strength in photography and Emmy’s in audio production, and their combined experiences in facilitation and design, popular education, and grassroots organizing, digital storytelling was the perfect medium for them to explore together. They joined an international community of people who use digital stories for community engagement. Digital storytelling was created as a participatory media workshop when video-editing capabilities first became accessible on personal computers about 20 years ago. Digital storytelling workshops offer a meaningful process for individuals to reflect on their own life experiences and to think creatively about how to represent those experiences through media arts and personal storytelling. Since 2008, Jennifer and Emmy have worked locally and nationally on digital storytelling projects with a broad spectrum of people who have shared stories about issues such as immigration, disability, violence, homophobia, climate change, and traditional indigenous knowledge.