Happy Holidays! I wanted to send you a short note during this busy time of year to say thank you for subscribing to my blog and being engaged readers!

I am sharing an article that I got published earlier this month about digital storytelling at our library. Local residents used photos and video-making software to create short films about a personal story. It was a fantastic experience to go to the premiere and watch these inspiring films. The community came together to listen and share, and we all grew from it.

Here’s to creating wonderful new stories this coming year! I am grateful for each and every one of you.

Stories enrich Peninsula narrative

By Rosa Kwon Easton | Posted: Thursday, December 15, 2016 7:00 am

PV Stories, a series of short films capturing the lives of 10 residents of the Peninsula and the South Bay, premiered earlier this month to an enthusiastic crowd of about 50 people — and more storytelling events and opportunities are in the works in the Palos Verdes Library District.

The Dec. 7 screening at the Peninsula Center Library Community Room featured digital filmmakers who also are longtime residents, community leaders and grandmothers. Topics ranged from gender roles and immigration, to discovering passion and environmental preservation.

Prior to the Dec. 7 screening, the filmmakers attended a two-day local workshop where they learned to use photos and video-making software to narrate their two- to three-minute videos.

“What was so special about it is that these were not young kids or people who grew up with technology,” said Monique Sugimoto, PVLD archivist and adult services librarian. “Everyone except one person was over 60 years old, probably more in their 70s. Everyone was there with their headphones, working with WeVideo and creating their own stories.”

Led by StoryCenter, a Berkeley-based digital storytelling organization, participants on the first day learned about the basics of digital storytelling, worked in groups to write their stories and narrated them. During the second day, they uploaded their audio and photographs, and decided what music to play, their titles, and how they wanted to present the materials.

In the film “Momma Ishibashi,” creator Naomi Hamachi described her mother as a picture bride from Japan who was also a pioneer and matriarch of the Ishibashi family. She lived with her husband in a small wood shack in Palos Verdes from the age of 16 to 36, raised seven children, worked in the fields and helped women deliver babies.

“When we talk about farming, we rarely hear a woman’s voice,” Sugimoto said. “This was a great opportunity to hear stories about a completely different side of our past.”

Wendy Stafford, a female colonel, created the film “Bridge” which emphasized empowering girls and the importance of looking beyond gender roles. In “Mentor to Mentor,” Diana McIntyre revealed her affinity for marine mammals and her work at the Point Vicente Interpretive Center.

Don Crocker, a local artist and a video participant, said that although he is not good with computers, he did enjoy “pulling together resources, a story of 250-300 words, and coming up with something.”

A fire burned down Crocker’s home near Ridgecrest in 1973, and as a result he became part of the Rolling Hills City Council and successfully fought to have a fireproof roofing ordinance passed. His short film “Beauty and the Beast” expressed the beauty of the Peninsula through some of his plein air paintings juxtaposed against the beast that is nature.

The PV Library District was one of 12 libraries in the state to offer this digital video program through the grant-funded California Listens project of the California State Library. The library district plans to use some of the new tools provided by this program to establish three possible projects in the future:

• SnapShot Stories: A half-day digital storytelling workshop with participants sharing a story around a single photo.

• The Listening Festival: A stand-up storytelling event with people taking the stage and sharing a story.

• The Listening Station: A “recording booth” designed with a special iPad to capture audio and video of two people in conversation.

Sugimoto hopes that all of these projects will be up and running soon.

PV Stories comes on the heels of the “Your Story is the Peninsula’s Story” project, in which residents’ photos and documents depicting life in PV were scanned into the library’s digital archives.

StoryCenter’s founder, Joe Lambert, said the PV Stories workshop was particularly successful because the PVLD is “one of the most forward thinking and engaged libraries in the State, inventing new types of engagement that is shifting the role of the library as a place which gathers passive information and knowledge in documents, to a role of listening and supporting the active voice of its citizens.”

PV Stories are now on the Library’s YouTube page at youtube.com/user/pvld/playlists and will be available on the library’s website at pvld.org. For more information or if you would like to become involved, contact Monique Sugimoto at 310-377-9584, ext 213 or [email protected].

Rosa Kwon Easton is an attorney and writer who lives in Rolling Hills Estates. Visit her blog and website at rosakwoneaston.com.