Blog Post #8

What’s The Story is a different type of learning experience than any other I’ve been part of. Instead of being told how to learn, we’re encouraged to find our own way to learn, and we get to learn in an environment of other motivated people.  We’re not told or “taught” the right way to do things, but rather asked questions to push us in the right direction. Over the past two-three months we’ve gone from a group of people who had just met to solid social action teams ready to pursue our stories.


In the beginning of the program, we wrote weekly blog posts responding to prompts; exploring social issues that interested us.  We also read and commented on other peoples’ posts. This formed the basis for the conversations that lead us to forming our social action teams.


At overnight #1, we were grouped based on similar topics that we focused on in our blog posts.  We presented the topic we had been focusing on and within our groups and discussed the ideas, asking questions and giving feedback.  Then, within our groups of similar interests, we tried to find common ground with our topics. Some groups had an easy time coming up with ideas that combined their topics, and some had a harder time finding common ground.  We made visual representations of our ideas, outlining them on poster paper and hanging them around the room. Everyone visited and read the outlines and decided whether to stay with their group or join a different one. Once the teams had been decided, they brainstormed ideas and tried to find a specific story within their topic to pursue.  


Between overnight #1 and overnight #2, the social action teams researched and refined the stories.  Inevitably, they changed to some extent. Coming back together at overnight #2, teams pitched their stories and received feedback to help them find the best way to gather information and target their audience. Another aspect was learning about the media kits and experimenting with sound and angle to prepare for interviews in the future, as the end product of our learning is a film that will make a social impact in the community.


My group specifically is focusing on body image and helping mothers and daughters have healing conversations around the subject. We’re trying to create a dialogue that can be a model for adults and kids everywhere as a way to talk about body image and the impact it has.  We want to provide a way for kids, especially girls, to have a positive body image in middle and high school, to carry with them through life. We always hear adults tell us, “it gets better,” and, “you stop caring so much,” but we want to find a way to show young people it can be easier now.  


Our group has come a long way from an idealistic vision of an end product to a plan for how we can create that product, and what specific next steps we can take. We compiled a lot of research throughout the last month and constantly re-evaluated and adjusted our topic during weekly conference calls. During this retreat, we assigned our media kits and we have an idea of people we can preliminarily interview.  We created a survey for our schools and we run a body positive Instagram page with 100+ followers so far. Our next steps are reaching out to people we want to interview and experimenting more with the media kits.


Working with my social action team is exciting and freeing in that it’s up to us what our next steps are and what we want our end product to be. It’s a different experience than learning in school, but I’m learning more than I ever could in a classroom.

Adelle MacDowell

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