NPC 7/12/13 Featured Presentation: Sami Petersen of SHIFT Scoliosis


For the July 12th, 2013 NonProfit Commons meeting we featured Sami Petersen (SHIFTscoliosis in SL), who presented on her personal journey, her organization’s mission and the power of digital storytelling. Sami was diagnosed with scoliosis at the age of 11, underwent spinal fusion surgery at the age of 15, and now at the age of 16, is the founder of the nonprofit SHIFT Scoliosis. Her experience inspired her to give back to the scoliosis community and help others, while spreading awareness and educating others about the condition. She started SHIFT Scoliosis in order to make those goals come true. SHIFT Scoliosis’ video won for the Best in Health category in the 2013 TechSoup Digital Storytelling Contest.

    •    Sami’s scoliosis story:




Below is an edited transcript of the presentation and you can read the full transcript at:


           Buffy Beale: Cheering loudly!

           alebez: yaaaaaaaay! sami!

           Gentle Heron: Welcome Sami

           Zinnia Zauber: Rah Sami!


Sami Petersen (SHIFTscoliosis): Thank you so much:)


           Joyce Bettencourt (Rhiannon Chatnoir): welcome Sami and start when you are ready!


Sami Petersen (SHIFTscoliosis): Imagine being a child who has been living in a body that is changing & hurting & slowing you down. You can’t play like the other kids. You can’t stop it from changing. Your parents worry. People stare & laugh at you. Doctors offer to help you and your parents agree to treatment. This is all so new. It is scary! You play with your fingers & shiver. Will it be okay??


SHIFT Scoliosis believes every person is beautiful and perfect just the way they are regardless of whether or not they have health problems. Our goals are to provide information and support for individuals and families who are impacted by scoliosis. Our second goal is to provide education to those not touched by scoliosis to create a strong and supportive world community. By promoting knowledge of scoliosis and how it impacts those who are affected, we hope to encourage a better understanding of this condition which changes the lives of so many.


SHIFT Scoliosis has launched SHIFT image, a project which will aim to promote the self-esteem of people who have scoliosis by capturing beautiful, professional pictures of them. SHIFT image will also create personalized videos of individuals’ journeys with scoliosis. Photography and video images create a more objective concrete way to see an individual for who they really are. Because we believe that comfort and support should be given to everyone regardless of economic status. We are giving concrete comfort items to children and their families who live in impoverished conditions and who have limited access to healthcare. SHIFT started this project to help bring comfort to our families during the stressful times each of us endures on our scoliosis journey.


As part of our mission, we want to reach out around the world to educate and support. So for each worry stone that we sell, another stone will be given to an impoverished family dealing with scoliosis. This will be a family helping family connection and another way to build a global community. We also plan to launch a parent education campaign to promote parental awareness of early scoliosis signs through educational materials and outreach. SHIFT scoliosis acknowledges the importance of school screenings and seeks to support the movement to make sure school screenings continue to happen.


We want to SHIFT the way that scoliosis is currently viewed and show the world, and especially people with scoliosis, how beautiful life with this condition can be. Let’s join together for this effort because we are all united by this condition. Scoliosis doesn’t pick favorites because it is universal. Only together we can shift the way the world sees scoliosis! So that is our mission. 


Now I want to tell you about me and why I started SHIFT. SHIFT stands for Support, help and instruction for transformation. I started SHIFT shortly after my spinal fusion surgery to correct my 60 degree scoliosis curve. Scoliosis is a side to side curve in the spine. It affects 2-3 out of every 100 people, but only a tiny fraction of those progress to the point of needing surgery. I was diagnosed with scoliosis at age 11 during a school screening. At the time I was a very competitive swimmer and wasn’t going to let scoliosis get in the way of my goals and dreams of becoming an Olympic swimmer.


Over the next few years my scoliosis got worse and worse, and I became unable to swim at the age of 13 because my back pain was too severe. At 14 I was put into a back brace, which I wore for the next year and a half. Despite wearing it 24 hours a day; seven days a week, my curve continued to progress. In addition to pain, I suffered from embarrassment because of my curve. I didn’t want to tell anyone about my scoliosis because the stereotypical look of those with scoliosis. I hid the fact I had scoliosis for years, but finally decided that I wanted to share. I wanted to change the way that scoliosis is looked at, because there is nothing to be embarrassed about.


Despite all our efforts to control the progression of my curve, surgery was the only option left. I was not very nervous, more excited about how much better I would feel after my operation. I was beyond joyous that finally, after years of having so many health problems, I was going to feel better!


Shortly before my surgery I started a blog to document the progress I had made through recovery, but more importantly to show the world that scoliosis is not something to be embarrassed about and surly isn’t something to hide. Within just a few days I already had hundreds of followers and overwhelming support from people all over the world. I had people from all over who were asking me questions about scoliosis, telling me how grateful they were that I was sharing, and some even telling me that I was the first person that they told about their own curves.


On September 12th, 2012, I underwent full spinal fusion surgery to correct my curve. I went to an amazing hospital in NYC and was fused from T3-L4 and spent 6 days in the intensive care unit, and two additional days in the regular hospital. I felt so lucky to have such amazing help and support from my family. We live three hours away from the hospital and even with it being hard to not have the comforts of home; they were all there for me. We are a team! I also felt so lucky to have such an amazing surgeon and for all the other doctors, nurses and staff who helped correct my curve from 60-9 degrees, and who made my recovery go so smoothly.


After my surgery I felt so much better in countless ways. The whole experience inspired me to help other people like me who are dealing with scoliosis. I decided that I wanted to take it a step further than just blogging and that is when SHIFT was born. Since then I have already made some really amazing accomplishments and met a few of my many goals. I made a video of my scoliosis journey – documented through pictures. It is about 7 minutes long, so I am not sure if everyone has time to watch it right now, but here is the link to that 🙂

As part of my tech soup digital story telling contest entry, I collected photos from kids and adults all around the world who also have scoliosis. The pictures in this promotional video include those from Canada, South Africa, Poland, United Kingdom, Australia and the USA. I put them all together to show that scoliosis is universal and can affect anyone of any age, but also that even with scoliosis, people are still just as beautiful, perfect and strong as they would be without the condition. Here is the link to the video that won Best In Health for the storytelling contest:


           James at Lloud (lloud.laffer) is watching and admiring this videos!

           Joyce Bettencourt (Rhiannon Chatnoir): what was that process like, collecting other’s stories? and must have been powerful having others share.


Sami Petersen (SHIFTscoliosis): It was amazing to collect their stories and photos. To see the transformation in these people who had gone through so much was just remarkable


           James at Lloud (lloud.laffer): Wow, the videos are so effective.

           alebezhiya everyone. and i’m so amazed at sami’s story.

           Leko Littlebird: Beautiful videos, so inspirational. Thank you so very much for sharing


Sami Petersen (SHIFTscoliosis): Thank you so much!


           Joyce Bettencourt (Rhiannon Chatnoir): and as a btw, that is the video you entered into the TechSoup Digital Storytelling challenge, yes?


Sami Petersen (SHIFTscoliosis): Yes the second one is 🙂


           Beth Ghostraven: storytelling is such an effective way of sharing information!

           alebez: We screened her story at the Awards Ceremony and Gala at the end of May.

           Joyce Bettencourt (Rhiannon Chatnoir): she won an award within the Health category for it.. and thanks to Ale (alebez) here today who helped organize and even hosted the real world awards ceremony

           Beth Ghostraven: Sami, yours is a great example of that


[09:40] Sami Petersen (SHIFTscoliosis): thank you so much everyone!


           Gentle Heron: Thank you for sharing your story Sami.

           James at Lloud (lloud.laffer): Stories are our culture and community.

           Beth Ghostraven applauds loudly!

           Frans Charming applauds

           Eme Capalini: Great job presenting too!

           Zotarah Shepherd: Wow Thank you Sami.


Sami Petersen (SHIFTscoliosis): At SHIFT we have lots of opportunities for volunteering 🙂 Right now we have a project called snuggles for scoliosis where we are trying to raise money to send pillowpets to children in other countries who are going through surgeries


           James at Lloud (lloud.laffer): Can I ask – what video software did you use?


Sami Petersen (SHIFTscoliosis): I used microsoft movie maker


           James at Lloud (lloud.laffer): Oh excellent! A personal and low cost software. What a great example for everyone.

           Joyce Bettencourt (Rhiannon Chatnoir): your story is great in showing how one person sharing their story can not only empower themselves, but help others to do the same 🙂

           Tava Longfall: Thank you for coming Sami


Sami Petersen (SHIFTscoliosis): Thank you all for having me today! Feel free to ask me any questions- I am more than happy to answer:)


           Gentle Heron: QUESTION- How do spinal fusions work with your physical growth? Didn’t you get taller after the fusion?


Sami Petersen (SHIFTscoliosis): I got three inches taller after my surgery because height I had gained grew into the side to side curve in my spine. I tell people I had the fastest growth spurt ever- 3 inches in 6 1/2 hours!


           Gentle Heron: I meant growth from child to adult, though.


[09:47] Sami Petersen (SHIFTscoliosis): For children who are not done growing, they wait to do fusion because the fusion would limit their growth. They use braces or growing rods. Growing rods are rods that are placed into the spine and every 6-8 months they are adjusted as the child grows


           Joyce Bettencourt (Rhiannon Chatnoir): so with your fusion surgery, they expected your growth in height was over


Sami Petersen (SHIFTscoliosis): Yes. I was done growing before my surgery so it wont make a difference for my overall height 🙂


           Oronoque Westland: Your talk made me think of all the parents who yell at their kids to sit up straight…possibly yelling at kids with undiagnosed conditions

           Beth Ghostraven: oh, good point, Oro!


Sami Petersen (SHIFTscoliosis): Yes, very true! Diagnosis at an early age is so important! Speaking of early diagnosis I made this to help people learn the signs of early scoliosis:


           James at Lloud (lloud.laffer): Sami, do you think you will make more videos?


Sami Petersen (SHIFTscoliosis): Absolutely!


           Joyce Bettencourt (Rhiannon Chatnoir): great to hear!

           James at Lloud (lloud.laffer): That’s great – SHIFT could provide a Youtube channel for the scoliosis community.


Sami Petersen (SHIFTscoliosis): That is a great idea! We have a channel, SHIFT scoliosis, and already have some followers on there. 🙂


           Joyce Bettencourt (Rhiannon Chatnoir): any advice for others wanting to add videos and digital storytelling into helping with their nonprofits or other programs?


Sami Petersen (SHIFTscoliosis): Yes – I think that when you make the video you have to imagine how you want it and then just have fun.


           Zotarah Shepherd: Does the fusion surgery mean that when you are elderly you will not have to worry about a tiwsted spine like many other old folks – like my mother – have?


Sami Petersen (SHIFTscoliosis): @Zotarah– yes. Now that my spine is fused I wont have to worry about it curving at all in the future


           Zotarah Shepherd: Thanks Sami, I am glad for your future and amazing way you lift people now. You are so brave.

           Zinnia Zauber: This is wonderful! Thank you Sami!

           Tori Landau: Sami, you are an inspiration!


Sami Petersen (SHIFTscoliosis): Aw thank you so much! 🙂 You are too kind!


           Joyce Bettencourt (Rhiannon Chatnoir): and any last advice for those wanting to add video and storytelling to their projects?


Sami Petersen (SHIFTscoliosis): I think that having fun and staying positive is so important. I practiced a lot too before I made any real videos for SHIFT that way I was comfortable with the software. That helped a lot


           Glitteractica Cookie: thanks again

           Glitteractica Cookie: gotta run folks, bye all

           Joyce Bettencourt (Rhiannon Chatnoir): take care Glitter

           [Zinnia Zauber: Bye Glitter


Sami Petersen (SHIFTscoliosis): By Glitter! Thanks!


           Joyce Bettencourt (Rhiannon Chatnoir): Sami It was great having you present today – let’s all thank her!

           Chayenn: thank you great presentation

           James at Lloud (lloud.laffer): thanks!

           Beth Ghostraven: .-‘`’-. APPLAUSE APPLAUSE .-‘`’-.

           Tava Longfall: Thanks for coming Sami

           Gentle Heron: Thanks Sami. Well done and best wishes.

           Beth Ghostraven: Thanks, Sami!

           jacmacaire Humby: Bravo!!!

           Zotarah Shepherd: Thank you so much Sami. You are inspiring! All the best.

           Frans Charming applauds

           Zinnia Zauber: Thank you Sami!

           alebez: Thanks, everyone! And thanks, Sami! You were great.

           Leko Littlebird: Thank you

           Zotarah Shepherd applaudes wildly.

           alebez: That was great, Sami. Thanks for joining us today.

           Oronoque Westland: Great presentation


Sami Petersen (SHIFTscoliosis): Thank you all so much for having me! Thank you so much everyone 🙂  You can visit my website at 🙂 and follow us on facebook at



If you took pictures during the event, please share them on our Facebook group: or G+ Community:, please tag them #NPSL and tag your avatars in any photos posted!

Written by: Rhiannon Chatnoir

TechSoup’s 2013 Digital Storytelling Awards Gala

Are you a techie or do-gooder interested in digital storytelling, online community, emerging technologies, or all of the above? You definitely won’t want to miss TechSoup’s 4th annual Digital Storytelling Screening and Awards Party on Tuesday, May 28 at 7pm PDT / SLT.

The event will feature a screening of top story submissions with an awards ceremony for the winners! Digital Storytelling videos came in from all around the world and even some from NPC community members.

Join us virtually at NonProfit Commons in Second Life, where we will get together for a mixed reality drive-in event, complete with our own red carpet and pixel popcorn!

Bring your favorite virtual vehicle or grab a seat in one of our’s, dress red-carpet snazzy and come ready to chat storytelling, have fun and network!

We will be streaming live the event from San Francisco and our virtual event and avatars will be up on the screen at the real event. And, If you will be in San Francisco, you can register to attend in person the red carpet event at PARISOMA!  More info on the live event:

You can also watch the awards ceremony live streamed online ( and follow the action on Twitter, hashtag: #tsdigs

Come Celebrate Community Storytelling!

Written by: Rhiannon Chatnoir

Masterminding Your Machinima Story for the April 12th NonProfit Commons Meeting

Join us this Friday, April 12th at Nonprofit Commons in Second Life to learn how machinima can enhance storytelling. Opal Lei returns to NPC to briefly talk about the process of creating machinima and to facilitate a mastermind group session, where you can exchange feedback about how to incorporate machinima in your organization or project’s storytelling.

Please note that Opal’s presentation will be partly in voice and partly in text, and feature a brainstorming session, so come ready to participate. Bring your ideas for the current TechSoup Digital Storytelling ( challenge, whether you have them already fleshed out or not. Or just what you want to express in your machinima video. Get ideas, feedback, references, links, resources, and information from everyone in the group.

Prior to the meeting, please prepare a short paragraph that describes your organization and its goal, and another short paragraph about what your goals are for your video (i.e.: fundraising, awareness, documentation) and your vision for it (if you already have one).



Opal Lei’s first machinima is a 30-second ad for her Mer Betta brand in 2010. Turning down an offer from a friend to produce it for her for a mere US$50, she chose to learn the basics of machinima filming in Second Life to create her own ad and immersed herself in a new form of creative expression. She helped film and edit MODA Primetime fashion shows and eventually taught machinima to new models at the MODA Modeling School. In 2012, she started two machinima series: “Talk, Like Dim Sum,” a talk show that is a follow-up to her book, and “Splo On The Go,” short clips which document the exhibits at the Splo Museum in SL.


Join us in Second Life!


Nonprofit Commons Weekly Meeting

Friday, April 12th, 8:30 AM PDT / SLT

Plush Nonprofit Commons Amphitheater 



  • 8:30 am Introductions
  • 8:40 am TechSoup Announcements
  • 8:45 am Mentors Central: Jeroen Frans (Frans Charming in SL) 
  • 8:55 am *Featured Presentation: Opal Lei – Masterminding Your Machinima Story
  • 9:45 am Open Mic / Announcements

* Please note, the featured presentation will be partly in voice and partly in text. Please arrive early (8:00 AM PDT) if you need any help setting up Second Life so you can use voice.

The mission of the Nonprofit Commons in Second Life is to create a community for nonprofits to explore and learn about virtual worlds, foster connections, and discover the many ways in which nonprofits might utilize the unique environment of Second Life to achieve their missions.

Written by: Rhiannon Chatnoir

Tiny Stories

A blog post told in short video tales by friends and colleagues….thanks for your TSDIGS submissions and we hope to see you at the NPC Screening Party on 2/23 at 7PM on Aloft Nonprofit Commons! The drive-in opens soon…..
glitter gets them ready!
Here’s a little story from my friends at HitRecord, inspiration for me to continue making tiny stories.

I created a little machinima teaser story for Ethelred at Neenah Historical Society as part of the ongoing Stories of Impact series, looking at Common Ground and how we’ve all come together here at Nonprofit Commons.

As we welcome Rik Riel to join the Nonprofit Commons team as Community Manager we’ll have many great stories to share this year! Look for reasons to wear roller skates and the Veri Oddfellow/Rik Riel danceoff that will hopefully go down in 2011.

If you created a one minute video for the TechSoup Digital Storytelling Challenge you may want to consider entering it into these public festivals:

* TED:

* FILMINUTE: @filminute

We travel around the world for stories and today we were shooting in the Egypt sim as people were VOTING:
Egypt - shutting down the internet

Weighty words from people who cannot access grids, it can happen anywhere. Thanks for sharing your stories here at the Nonprofit Commons. Here’s a last story from The Love Foundation on Plush:

Written by: InKenzo

Digital Storytelling Methods: Time & Resources Needed?

We have thousands of new digital storytellers joining us for TweetChats, webinars and events with TSDIGS Digital Storytelling Challenge this month and many questions have been coming in! You can view some of the forum questions from last week here and chime in with your own questions anytime this week.

One of the most common questions is how much time will it take to produce your first digital story. This varies wildly depending on the people, the team, the equipment availability and how you tend to work so I can only tell you my personal experience with various platforms, in order from least amount of time needed to most amount of time and resources to produce your one minute story.

Time, software and other elements needed are mentioned here….feel free to ask questions and leave comments using the #TSDIGS tag so we can address them in events this week or join today’s TweetChat at 11AM PST.

FLIP CAMERA: Less than one hour total time needed $$
Requires: Flip camera with the flip upload/edit software, time to cut your clips and put them in order, add a quick title card at beginning and end. Can be online to YouTube in an hour from first shooting footage if your shots are simple and require little editing. This is not a tool that looks extremely professional (HD camera lacks broadcast-quality sound and editing options) but this will get you online quickly to be more prolific. Similar tools exist for mobile phones and some platforms have video editing apps available at low cost.

XTRANORMAL, MOVIESTORM & ANIMOTO: One hour to produce a short animated video $
I have primarily used XTRANORMAL but there are many tools that allow you to make quick online movies using your existing images, content or script. With XTRANORMAL I spent a few minutes scripting it out, blocked out movements and animation prompts and did a few iterations in under an hour, uploading it to YouTube at the hour mark. This media works well for humor or for making complex ideas simple.

FLICKR PHOTO COLLECTION: 2-5 hours to produce a 5 photo slide set $
Plan to spend more time curating, fixing, adding text or watermarks in Photoshop and cleaning up your images prior to upload. Taking photos is fairly easy and straightforward but the greatest artists in this arena work with their raw material and help it tell the story more vividly through juxtaposition, composition, additional text & descriptions along with tags and online tools for telling the details of your story, like geolocation and the people featured in your photos.

MACHINIMA: 6-15 hours to produce a short animated/mixed media short video $$
My practice with machinima was to shoot it live using IShowUHD in Second Life and get the energy of what’s happening in the moment (like improv), not overscripting but making sure all characters know what to expect and what questions to answer in their voiceovers. I record VO separately using Audio Hijack and edit pieces together, aiming to have projects take me less than a day’s worth of work, or a few hours spread out over a week. Well produced shorts by Draxtor take more time and more attention to post-production after your shoot.

DIY HD VIDEO: 4-48 hours to produce a short live action video $$$
This wildly varies based on time scripting, how many scenes, how complicated of an edit, are you waiting for special pieces like voiceover or music from someone who is hard to reach? I need at least an hour to polish a short script, an hour to shoot and an hour to edit for upload as minimum but expect that your first video story may take a few afternoons: one day for scripting, one day for shooting the essentials, at least one or two for editing and iterations with room for pickup shots and photoshopping art for title cards. If you will be editing and showing a rough cut to your team prior to uploading a final cut plan for an extra day or two for rewrites and changes as you find your voice.

ANIMATION: 3-555 hours to produce a short animated video featurette $$-$$$$$
Depending on the software you are using and the complexity of your content this can be done in an afternoon or can be produced by dozens of people over the course of weeks. Googledocs, Photoshop and other non-traditional animation tools can make animation available to everyday users without paying for expensive 3D programs like Maya, while AfterEffects and common animation tools for video are more expensive than most DIY solutions and require a professional-level user to make high quality content.

PRODUCED HD VIDEO FOR BROADCAST: 14 days – 90 days with a professional production company $$$$$
Most large nonprofits hire companies that act as production studios for their PSAs and broadcast-ready content. A professional producer/writer/director team will want to meet with your nonprofit team for at least 3-5 sessions where script, shooting details and iterations will be discussed. This is very difficult to pull off in a short amount of time unless there is a focused team that understands tight TV schedules with quick turnaround needs.

Are you curious about other methods, platforms, software or digital storytelling tools? Leave us a comment here so we’re able to share the resources most needed for your team! Remember to enter by January 31st to join the TSDIGS Digital Storytelling Challenge in 2011.

Written by: InKenzo

Looking Back & Looking Forward

As we tip forward into a new year and #TSDIGS Digital Storytelling Event it’s a great time to celebrate what’s working in our virtual community, learn a few lessons and set intention for the coming year together. What were some of the highlights of our time together at NPC this past year?

1.Preferred Family Healthcare receives a grant for $865,000 for virtual addiction therapy services and PopSci features Coughran and Brena this month. Lesson learned: dream big and have metrics to back yourself up!

2.Virtual Haiti Relief teams raise thousands through virtual events in partnership with NPC and other charitable avatars. Lesson: build partnerships early, before disaster strikes, so you’re ready to leap into action together.

3.TechSoup trainings, webinars and events draw thousands of nonprofit leaders to learn about new platforms, tools and opportunities to grow. Lesson: keep providing easy opportunities to learn new tools and the community grows in appreciation.

4.NPCGames, a special working group for nonprofits interested in developing games, grew to include dozens of specialists working across sectors to grow causebuilding options for play. Lesson: Nonprofit leaders can be gamers too and we need both mindsets to develop meaningful play experiences.

5.GreenTech initiatives take hold in many organizations, reducing energy and resource costs while encouraging use of cloud and virtual platforms as an alternative to travel. Lesson: promoting efficient virtual teamwork helps reduce operation cost for some nonprofits.

6.Stories of Impact machinima videos joined our YouTube page featuring some of the best NPC leaders in action. Lesson: Telling stories through interactive media helps our community grow outside of the virtual world.

7.After four years of @techsoup weekly Friday meetings in Second Life we maxed out our sim with 99 guests to hear Lindens talk about bringing teens and adults together in the new mixed grid. Lesson: never underestimate how many people will appear when the right guest shows up!

Looking forward, how can we take our best assets and build stronger virtual communities for nonprofits?

1.Integrating youth and adults in one virtual place will allow for many new educational and volunteer opportunities along with a potential infusion of young energy

2.ReactionGrid, OSGrid and various open sims are available at low cost to nonprofits, making it accessible for organizations to own their own servers or create larger simulation experiences

3.Building bridges between worlds, hypergrid tours and cross-sector partnerships will be even more important as we connect beyond Nonprofit Commons in Second Life

4.Educational experiences, museums and nonprofits that create immersion experiences in virtual space will find participation growing, especially as user content is featured in galleries and exhibition halls around the world

5.Embracing young, saavy programmers who are excited to help their favorite causes will be the tipping point for many organizations looking to grow and try new endeavors

6.Invite more gamechangers and respected leaders from various sectors to help us open new doors, dream big and make new connections across the grids

7.Playfulness and fun storytelling elements connect people over time and grow a sticky network of engaged leaders. Be intentional about designing play that offers various ways to plug in and random people will find you and get involved!

So on this 1/11/11 it is our hope as the avatars of Nonprofit Commons that you are taking time to do something new, build a bridge and be the best you can be. Never settle for the status quo when you can be extraordinary – every avatar at NPC embodies this in some way and together we create a community that is unique in its resilience, a pillar in the ever-shifting 3D web world. Being that pillar requires all of us to live out the commitments we’ve made to our people, to volunteerism within NPC and to continually reach out beyond ourselves and represent alteratives to the rigidness of our real world. Each of us has learned to craft our own experience, choose our own adventure and share some piece of that through photos, machinima, blogs and tweets. Keep sharing and remember that we create this experience every day together and we choose how to make the most of it!

Special thanks to the leaders at Nonprofit Commons for their hard work along with Rik Riel, Rhiannon Chatnoir and Pathfinder for their amazing blog writing looking ahead to 2011 in virtual engagement.

Written by: InKenzo

TSDIGS Event Followup Interview with Buffy Beale!


genesis Zhangsun: Hey Buffy!
Buffy Beale: Hi Hi HI
genesis Zhangsun: so this is Bridges! The colors match your outfit, in a good way!
Buffy Beale: lol sorry it took so long to get together
Buffy Beale: I tend to lean towards bright and cheery 🙂
Buffy Beale: so this is our office, I purposely built it not to look like real life
Buffy Beale: but kind of dreamy
Buffy Beale: and bright to attract visitors
genesis Zhangsun: yes indeed it really does get the imagination going 🙂
genesis Zhangsun: I definitely appreciate the effort to keep it from looking like a real world office
genesis Zhangsun: so how has your experience been like with NPC?
Buffy Beale: life changing
Buffy Beale: yes in that I have connected with like-minded people from all over the globe
Buffy Beale: and we share a common interest in the good in life for all
Buffy Beale: becasue we meet every week, I see some of these avatars more than I did when I worked
Buffy Beale: (I retired early yay!)
genesis Zhangsun: congrats!
Buffy Beale: so have built friendships I never would have imagined
Buffy Beale: but more to the point is the awareness for my nonprofit, Bridges
Buffy Beale: the opportunity to tell our story has been just amazing
genesis Zhangsun: so what types of outlets for raising awareness for your organization have you had access to through NPC?
Buffy Beale: many
Buffy Beale: first of all, we all get to tell about our nonprofits at the weekly meeting, one each week
Buffy Beale: then was the publicity about us joining, two years ago, had a 1/2 page spread in our newspaper as well as the Cdn Fundraiser online zine
Buffy Beale: and a few other lessor publications
Buffy Beale: then I connected with 4 other nonprofits for a joint project we’re working on for homeless called “Transitions, A Place for Dreams”
Buffy Beale: where two of our Bridges students will be able to take a university course on business skills
Buffy Beale: once we get the funding that is
genesis Zhangsun: wonderful! The TechSoup Digital Storytelling event must have also been another great outlet, especially considering your honorable mention award! Congratulations
Buffy Beale: yes!
Buffy Beale: I am still dancing on a cloud for that
Buffy Beale: two reasons, personally a real validation that I am creative, I’ve been feeling a little blue these past few months, a 25 yr breakup in process so needed the boost
Buffy Beale: but best of all, the link to our web site on the TechSoup community page
Buffy Beale: that is something
Buffy Beale: and it just felt good to be in the winners circle with all those wonderful orgs as well
Buffy Beale: I felt so excited and proud, and for those who have never tried second life it’s hard to explain
Buffy Beale: how thrilling it was to have my friends there cheer for me
Buffy Beale: when the announcement came
Buffy Beale: I may of well have been standing accepting an oscar or something 🙂
genesis Zhangsun: 🙂
genesis Zhangsun: that is so great! Could you tell me a little bit about how you got introduced to the event and became inspired to contribute?
Buffy Beale: sure
Buffy Beale: I’m on the NPC management team, and at one of our phone conferences, Susan brought it up
Buffy Beale: she was so excited about it, and I couldn’t help but be as well
Buffy Beale: then came the announcement at our weekly meeting
Buffy Beale: and I realized it wasn’t about the prizes, it was about learning how to use this as a tool for Bridges Communication strategy
Buffy Beale: so I decided right then to submit something
Buffy Beale: I attended all the webinars, and learned so much
Buffy Beale: especially some of the ways to get the word out
Buffy Beale: I couldn’t use GoldMail because I’m on a Mac, but that was my first choice to try
Buffy Beale: then they had a full session on Machinima, which I’ve always been interested in
Buffy Beale: InKenzo and Rhiannan and one of my favs, Drax
Buffy Beale: shared their knowlege and offered to help and answer questions
genesis Zhangsun: Could you say a little bit more about why digital storytelling seemed like a compelling way to tell your story?
Buffy Beale: sure
Buffy Beale: I think it’s the new way to reach an audience
Buffy Beale: and is important to practice having it simple and to the point
Buffy Beale: and because we are a very small nonprofit, but have huge potential to go global I can see this will help us in the future
Buffy Beale: because the audience we will reach will spare the 60 secs to learn about us
Buffy Beale: but it does take practice, unless of course you hire a pro
Buffy Beale: which the normal nonprofit cant afford
Buffy Beale: so its just the new way and keeping current to reach the next generation I believe
Buffy Beale: the ones who don’t read newspapers or magazines, but pour over the Internet
Buffy Beale: this make sense?
genesis Zhangsun: which is pretty much everyone 🙂
Buffy Beale: everyone under 30 for sure
genesis Zhangsun: yes absolutely, so what tools were your favorites?
Buffy Beale: I would have loved to try the machinima and will do for my next one
Buffy Beale: but I didn’t have the right tools, or the time to learn them so decided on the photos
Buffy Beale: after realizing GoldMail wouldn’t work for me
Buffy Beale: but I really liked the challenge to keep it within 5 photos to tell our story
Buffy Beale: that is hard to do, how to explain we train women who have been abused? but keep a positive message
Buffy Beale: so I think my fav tool right now is the photo challenge
Buffy Beale: because it’s easier to tell the story in moving images perhaps, but the photo’s give food for thought
genesis Zhangsun: so you used flickr to upload your pictures and share them?
Buffy Beale: yes, I had a flickr account but didn’t use it much
Buffy Beale: I also opened a YouTube account and practiced uploading a video before I realized I wouldn’t have time
Buffy Beale: and the main message I got from the training were to understand who my audience will be, and what message I want to leave them with
Buffy Beale: I wrote up a simple storyline, and sent it to the board for their approval
Buffy Beale: one agreement I made about being in SL was all communication would be approved
Buffy Beale: which is standard for us anyways
Buffy Beale: but we are restricted in what we can post, student photos etc
genesis Zhangsun: so in your case your audience is women who have been abused, is that correct or is there a broader audience? and what would you say was the message you wanted to convey?
Buffy Beale: Yes, I chose to speak to potential clients and the message was they can have help to change their life by graduating from our program
Buffy Beale: I say potential because we have a line-up, but are hoping to get our on-line program up and running again, which gives us unlimited space almost
Buffy Beale: funny enough, I worked for hours doing a powerpoint slide presentation type
Buffy Beale: using words, no photos
Buffy Beale: thats when I realized, lol, it’s not about the words, it’s about the image
genesis Zhangsun: well the pictures clearly did the job, a picture is worth a thousand words right? And I think you definitely were able to get your message across amazingly in 5 shots
genesis Zhangsun: (for readers)
Buffy Beale: yes I think it helped having a ‘theme’
Buffy Beale: so there I was, two days before deadline
Buffy Beale: and was coming up with a blank because as I said we can only post limited photos
Buffy Beale: so I decided to grab some of the photos here in our office
Buffy Beale: the students or the classroom, and was just going to put them together to get something in
Buffy Beale: when a light went off
Buffy Beale: hahaha
Buffy Beale: I could build a ‘set’ and take SL photos
Buffy Beale: and the rest just came easy
genesis Zhangsun: the event as you know took place on several different platforms
genesis Zhangsun: webinars, the TS Forums, twitter in reporting the action, and Second Life for the mixed reality finale, it also utilized tools as we have mentioned like flickr, youtube, picasa, real talk, goldmail, adobe, photobucket, shutterfly, machinima, snapfish, and tinypic
genesis Zhangsun: how did you feel these different mediums and tools worked together in making this event useful/interesting for participants
genesis Zhangsun: particularly the SL mixed media event where you were awarded your prize from inworld!
Buffy Beale: I think using a variation of platforms was critical to the success factor
Buffy Beale: not everyone uses second life, so that was only good for those who are here
Buffy Beale: the webinairs were so valuable especially the ability to ask questions in real time to the presentors
Buffy Beale: and the presentations were all so well done and informative, I’m so happy I attended
Buffy Beale: and the idea to use photos or a video expanded the potential submissions I believe
Buffy Beale: not everyone us comfortable making a movie, but most have use of a dig camera
Buffy Beale: so that was important as well to include the smaller orgs
Buffy Beale: the mixed reality event was not new to me, but I think it really came across to the folks attending in real life
Buffy Beale: that there is a whole world in here, of very dedicated people
Buffy Beale: and it was in my mind, a very successful competition
Buffy Beale: in that I learned so much about other orgs I’ve never heard about
Buffy Beale: and they mine
Buffy Beale: and I think next year will be somehting to really look forward to
genesis Zhangsun: what was one organization that you had never really heard about before and connected with through the Challenge?
Buffy Beale: thats a tough one, I think Kramden for sure
genesis Zhangsun: either directly or with the message of the org
genesis Zhangsun: Yes they were wonderful!
Buffy Beale: my favourite was the Pelican one
Buffy Beale: yes thats it sorry forgot the name
Buffy Beale: the other was the global how to create peace message
genesis Zhangsun: connecting students with computers and other digital technology
Buffy Beale: yes
genesis Zhangsun: oh yes that was wonderful too
Buffy Beale: but there were so many both amateur and professionally done that were amazing
genesis Zhangsun: and in the end 56 Flickr stories, 47 YouTube/Goldmail, For a grand total of 103 stories
Buffy Beale: I believe we must stay current with technology if we are to reach the next generation
genesis Zhangsun: in general too those users have short attention spans, so a 60 second video or a five photo spread is really all people will take the time to look at
Buffy Beale: yes and really, it is sufficient although I had my doubts in the beginning I dont have any now
genesis Zhangsun: haha that came off sounding harsh that facebook users have short attention spans 🙂
Buffy Beale: nooo they do 🙂 anyone on the internet now does
genesis Zhangsun: what I mean is that in general in this age we are all bombarded with information so it really does count how well the information is presented
genesis Zhangsun: yes exactly
Buffy Beale: started with the remote control capability on the tv 🙂
genesis Zhangsun: well wonderful Buffy!
genesis Zhangsun: thanks!
Buffy Beale: my pleasure for sure
Buffy Beale: one last thing
genesis Zhangsun: oh sure
Buffy Beale: when I said the NPC changed my life, it is true
Buffy Beale: I joined SL to investigate for an org I worked for, and almost left given the seedy side
Buffy Beale: and little interest from my org (provincial government)
Buffy Beale: then happened upon someone with techsoup group
Buffy Beale: and wrote a thank you note, they have saved Bridges
Buffy Beale: we train women to return to work, imagine trying that on old software
Buffy Beale: and then Glitter invited me to join the nPC which was just starting
Buffy Beale: I convinced the board we should try it (believing it could be the future)
Buffy Beale: and it has been so rewarding for Bridges, and for me
Buffy Beale: thats it, just a huge thank you to Susan and Megan and the team at TechSoup for this opportunity
Buffy Beale: I learned recently U of Texas bought 50 sims and will soon offer real classes
Buffy Beale: and I know
Buffy Beale: Bridges Online program will have a place here someday too
Buffy Beale: and it’s becasue of TechSoup that this will be possible
Buffy Beale: 🙂
genesis Zhangsun: 🙂
genesis Zhangsun: that is such a great story Buffy
genesis Zhangsun: thanks for sharing it with me

Written by: Genesis

Digital Storytelling Challenge Awardees Announced!

On October 21, we held our Digital Storytelling Challenge Awards Party here at TechSoup headquarters in San Francisco.

We screened highlights from the more than 100 video, image, and GoldMail submissions and celebrated the great work nonprofits and libraries are doing to tell their unique and important stories. These stories help convey the work they do, advance their missions, and highlight the communities they’re working within by giving a visual (and sometimes audio) story to help supporters connect with their mission and values.

If you missed the party, here’s the full line up of our awardees:

  • First Place: Kramden in 60 sec by the Kramden Institute awarded a Flip Video camera.
  • Second Place: Dragonfly Forest by Dragonfly Forest awarded Adobe Audition software and a Flickr Pro account
  • Third Place: Tabor Kalaka 2009 by The Community Foundation of Odorheiu Secuiesc awarded Adobe Production software.
  • Fourth Place: 30 Ways to Create Peace by Legacy International/Global Youth Village awarded a GoldMail Synergy account.

Honorable Mentions were awarded a Philips MP3 player:

  • MBYC Youtube edition by Mojave Basin Youth Corps
  • Faith in Practice TSDigs by Faith In Practice
  • Bridges Digital Storytelling by Bridges for Women

Thanks to all of the organizations and libraries who took part in the challenge by sharing their digital stories and a special thanks to our partners who supported the whole series of digital storytelling events and resources throughout the month. Learn more about the full series of resources here and join us in recognizing the support of these organizations in making it possible to highlight amazing digital stories from social benefit workers around the world:

  • Adobe
  • BAVC
  • Center for Digital Storytelling
  • Flickr
  • Flip Video
  • GoldMail
  • Lights. Camera. Help.
  • ReadyTalk
  • That’s Not Cool
  • See 3 Communications
  • Streetside Stories
  • Youth Radio
  • YouTube
  • Amoration (Second Life producer)

And special thanks to many staff and volunteers at TechSoup who had a hand in making the full Digital Storytelling Online Event a success!

Written by: Beth J. Bates

TechSoup Global’s free Digital Storytelling Online Event and Community Challenge, September 30-Oct. 21.

Every organization has a story to tell. But yours doesn’t have to be a bland, corporate-sounding video or canned sound bite. Even with limited resources, time, or skills, your nonprofit can tell a compelling story that captures the importance and impact of your cause — and we’ve got an event that will show you how!

Mark your calendars for TechSoup Global’s Digital Storytelling Online Event! This free event will take place across three separate platforms: webinars, forums and the virtual world of Second Life. The webinar portion will take place over two days: Wednesday, September 30th and Thursday, October 1st. The Digital Storytelling Online Event’s discussions will occur in the TechSoup forums with expert hosts from the webinars. You’ll have the opportunity to ask questions and engage on a deeper level with the event hosts.

Visit the event webpage. Register to receive email announcements about the event.

How Can You Participate?

There are a number of ways that you can engage in the free Digital Storytelling Event. You are welcome to join any or all avenues listed below:

* Join a webinar
* Enter the Challenge by creating a story, and be in the running to win one of our many fabulous prizes including: a Flip Video camera, Adobe software, mp3 players and more!
* Engage with the experts in the TechSoup Forums
* Follow the action on Twitter #tsdigs
* Attend the Challenge Screening and Awards party at TechSoup Headquarters in San Francisco or from Second Life

What do we mean by Digital Storytelling?

According to Wikipedia, “Digital Storytelling refers to using digital tools so that ordinary people can tell their own real-life stories.” Nonprofits are among the storytellers who are using digital tools to tell compelling stories, showcase their work, engage their constituents, and spread awareness.

At our Digital Storytelling Event, our nonprofit partners and partner companies providing digital storytelling tools will show you step-by-step how to tell your story as a captivating, sensory, visual, and audio experience and showcase inspiring nonprofit case studies to demonstrate the power of digital storytelling in engaging your audience. Whether you’re a nonprofit video veteran or you’re just starting to share your mission through online images and audio, the Digital Storytelling Event will provide you with information about the latest digital storytelling tools and how to acquire them at a discounted nonprofit rate through our TechSoup Stock program.
Event Schedule:

9/30: Event Day 1 – TechSoup Forums,event discussions, and expert webinars

10/1: Event Day 2 – TechSoup Forums event discussions and “How to Create a Digital Story” webinar

10/1: Digital Storytelling Challenge kickoff

10/1-10/16: Digital Storytelling Challenge submission period. Expert digital storytelling hosts will be available in the TechSoup forums to answer your questions

10/19-10/20: Challenge Submissions Judging

10/21: Winners announced and movie screening party in the virtual world of Second Life and live from San Francisco at the TechSoup headquarters

Our Partners
We are thrilled to be partnering with some of the most knowledgeable and cutting edge nonprofits and companies in the digital storytelling realm. The following partners have confirmed participation in the event:

* Adobe
* BayCat
* Center for Digital Storytelling
* Flickr
* FlipVideo
* GoldMail
* Lights Camera Help
* Randal Moss, TWMDC
* ReadyTalk
* That’s Not Cool
* See 3 Communications
* StreetsideStories
* Witness
* Youth Radio
* YouTube

How to Stay Informed and Contact Us:
Stay tuned on the event website, register to receive email announcements about the event, and follow the action on Twitter #tsdigs. If you would like to get in touch directly feel free to reach out to the TechSoup Team:

Written by: Genesis