>Living Cultural Storybases

>In recent weeks, I have been in contact with a woman who is doing work with preserving indigenous/minority cultures through using digital media. I think that it is wonderful what she is doing and I asked her if she would write something about her work for me to post here. What she has written is below:

My name is Robin Hansteen-Izora; I represent a new non-profit corporation called Living Cultural Storybases (LCS. LCS is a secular, non-governmental corporation founded by Paul Rankin, an inventor with Philips Corp. for over 25 years. Paul’s life long passion has been traveling to the remotest corners of the earth and getting to know the people who live there. The people he meets have unique languages, cultures and ways of living that are far different from the dominant American/European way of life. Paul realized that these people and their cultural heritage are both supremely important and under heavy attack by the activities and conduct of the Western world. In fact, one living language dies with its last speaker about every two weeks. This means words with unique definitions, perceptions of the world, their own intimations and humor are vanishing, never to be replaced. Paul recognized that something urgently had to be done to stop this loss of cultures and languages, and thus LCS was born.
LCS’s mission and purpose is to “nurture the oral heritage of minority cultures
in a digital world”. This means taking some of the tools from the digital age that have in many ways threatened minority cultures and turning them into tools to help these cultures survive, grow and flourish. At LCS we believe the stories people tell, the songs they sing, and the dances they dance are the backbone and strength of a society. By creating appropriate digital solutions to help tribal peoples nourish their traditional practices, we hope to help stop the devastating loss of so many unique and irreplaceable ways of life.
The project I am working on under LCS is called “digital story quilts”. A traditional family scrapbook tells a story using pictures, words, and embellishments as well as layout design. Its purpose is to preserve past memories for future generations and to communicate to the viewer not only the facts associated with an event, but the lessons learned and the principles and values of the creator. For many years I have created family scrapbooks that show pictures and tell stories about and for my family. These scrapbooks teach my children where they come from, who they are, what is important to us. My children look at them over and over again with pride and delight, and as they do so they are learning in essence our family culture.
In the same way, a Digital Story Quilt uses the best of digital technology to combine assets of cultural heritage in digital form – audio, video, images and text. The result is a living document created for a whole community that not only preserves, but provides a platform for dialogue and continued engagement in indigenous language and cultural traditions. As I envision it, the final product would be a giant quilt with each square telling a part of the story of a community.
I am still working on the funding aspect and beginning stages of this project and would be happy to speak with anyone interested in finding out more, or with leads to both Native communities, funders, and those willing to help! Please contact me at robin@izora.com. To find out more about LCS go to www.storybases.org.

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