From September to December 2015, Emmy and Jennifer were artists in residence at the Don Mills Library. The residency was funded the the Toronto Arts Council‘s Artists in the Library strategic initiatives funding. Creating digital stories in a group that gathered together continuously over many weeks and shared personal insights about their lives helped to create bonds and in some instances, new friendships between community members.
One participant said; “It sounds so simple: story telling! But through this story telling, I was able to look into ‘part of my past life’ and did a bit of reflecting. It was a great experience. It was also wonderful to be able to see and hear other people’s personal stories and the reflections were heart warming, stimulating and encouraging. Through the patient guidance of Emmy I could now share ‘my story’ to my family and friends.”
At the close of the program, the library held a Digital Story Festival to enable a screening of all stories created. It was very well attended by participants, family, friends and interested members in the community. The Festival opened with a participant speaking about her experience creating her digital story and how she hoped to use her story, and the life experiences it reflected, as an educational tool for others.
The presence of the Artists in the Library program afforded a unique opportunity for a deeply personal enrichment of participants that would not normally be available in a short library program. The workshops created a space for both personal reflection and communal growth through shared experience of personal storytelling. A final exhibition of the digital stories positively impacted and strengthened communal bonds.