Syllabus

Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 1 session / week, 3 hours / session

Overview

This workshop explores the potential of media technology and the Internet to enhance communication and transform city design and community development in inner-city neighborhoods. The class introduces a variety of methods for describing or representing a place and its residents, for simulating actions and changes, for presenting visions of the future, and for engaging multiple actors in the process of envisioning change and guiding action. Students will engage one neighborhood, meet real people working on real projects, put theory into practice, and reflect on insights gained in the process.

This year the course will examine what it means to be an urban designer/planner and how to create a digital teaching tool (using digital storytelling) that supports others in learning about the relationship between design and planning professionals, on the one hand, and members of the communities they serve, on the other. What is the nature of the knowledge that resides in a community and how can designers and planners learn about, tap, and use that knowledge? What is the relationship between community organizing and urban design and planning? What are the relationships between you as a professional, the place(s) in which you work, and the values and care you bring to that work?

We will explore these themes in the context of Camfield Estates in Lower Roxbury, MA and its participation in the US Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) Demonstration Disposition Project. There have been many stories written about Camfield Estates' participation in the Demonstration Disposition project, for it has been widely regarded as a model of success. There are two stories that have not yet been told, however: the story of the residents who organized the community and the story of the architects and planners who participated in the project. This course will use digital storytelling to reconstruct and connect these two stories.

Course Format

The course meets once a week in workshop sessions at MIT. The three-hour class is normally divided into three parts: reflection (discussion based on journal writing from the previous week), presentation (discussion of material relevant to themes of the class and/or discussion of student work), and lab (skill-building activities).

Work-in-progress will be presented and discussed in class. Completed digital stories will be screened and discussed with invited guests. Also planned are a series of public screenings during the spring semester.

Course Requirements

Work for the semester will be evaluated in four ways: participation in class discsussion (15% of final grade); a journal, to be turned in weekly via email (15%); proposal for digital story on Camfield Estates (10%); digital story on Camfield Estates (30%); personal digital story (30%). There will be no final exam. Ongoing work and final projects will be posted online. It is very important to submit assignments on time, including weekly journals, since class discussion and labs are based on student work. There will be no extensions without prior, written, consent of the instructors. Late submissions will receive a reduction in grade.

Prior experience with Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Premiere is not a prerequisite for this class. While labs do include an introduction to the skills needed for the class, you are responsible for preparing for labs beforehand by working through relevant sections of The Digital Storytelling Cookbook (www.storycenter.org/cookbook.html) and getting as far as you can on your own. After the first few classes, the labs will serve primarily as trouble-shooting sessions supporting the ongoing work of the class.

Students are responsible for completing the required reading prior to class on the relevant date.

Schedule of Classes and Assignments

Lec # Topics Details
1 Stories and their Significance for Communities, Designers, and Planners

Presentation: The Power of Digital Storytelling

Lab: Overview of Premiere and file management

Reading: Digital Storytelling Cookbook (www.storycenter.org/cookbook.html); review entire text; at the minimum, read pp. 1-24.

Next Week's Assignment: What do you hope to offer communities as a designer/planner?

On Being a Designer/Planner and Working with Communities
2 Telling Your Story in Words and Images

Reflection: Discussion of themes that emerged in the journals

Presentation: Storyboards: integrating words and images

Lab: Photoshop, image scanning, file management

Reading: Digital Storytelling Cookbook (www.storycenter.org/cookbook.html); review pp. 25-39. You might find it helpful to bring a copy to class.

Due in Class: First draft of story on being a designer/planner. Bring text to class (the equivalent of a 3-minute script) and at least one image suitable for scanning.

Next Week's Assignment: Working version of rough cut of your digital story for in-class screening and discussion.

3  

Lab: An introduction to Adobe Premiere will be scheduled during the second-week of September. This will cover what you need to know in order to complete the first draft of your digital story and prepare it for screening in the last-week of September. Prepare for the lab by working through the steps on pages 42-72 and 87-94 in the Digital Storytelling Cookbook. Get as far as you can on your own. Scan your images and make a digital recording of your script and prior to the lab and bring the digital files with you.

4 Screening: On Being a Designer/Planner Personal Stories

Reflection: Discussion of themes that emerged in the journals

Presentation: In-class screening of personal digital stories

Due in Class: Working rough cut of your digital story with audio track and images. The rough cut should include synchronization of audio track and images, but need not include transitions (fade-in/fade-out, etc.) between images.

Camfield Estates: Organizing and Planning a Community
5 Field Trip to Camfield Estates (date to be confirmed)

Presentations: Camfield Estates and the Demonstration Disposition Project, Views from Residents, Planners and Observers

Readings: Camfield Estates packet

Next Week's Assignment: one-page concept paper on the planning story in the larger Camfield Estates story.

Residents and Designers/Planners: Telling the Story of Designing and Planning Camfield Estates
6  

Presentation and Reflection: What is the relationship between community organizing and community design and planning? Discussion of concept papers on Camfield Estates story and themes that emerged in the journals.

Lab: Identify stories, form groups and develop plan to produce storyboards for each episode of the digital story on planning lessons from the Camfield Estates experience

Readings: Camfield Estates packet; Professionalization of the Client and To Fight Swimming Against the Current

Due in Class: One page concept paper on the planning story in the Camfield Estates story.

Next Week's Assignment: Revised script and work plan for personal story.

7 Planning/Designing Camfield Estates: What Story(ies) Should Be Told?

Due this week: Revised script and work plan for personal story and list of needs (sound track, images, etc.). Submit via email by October.

Next Week's Assignment: Story board for each episode of the Camfield Estates story (presented in PowerPoint or other presentation software); each episode ca. 3 minutes.

8 Planning/Designing Camfield Estates: Telling the Stories

Presentation and reflection: Presentation and discussion of story boards for each episode with outside guest. How does each episode change in relation to the others?

Lab: Developing production schedule and project timeline for creating the digital stories

Readings: Camfield Estates packet; Digital Storytelling Cookbook, review storyboards, pp. 25-28.

Due in Class: Storyboards for each episode. Work plan and list of needs (images, sound track, other) for each episode.

Next Week's Assignment: Final script, selected images, and revised storyboards for each episode.

9 Camfield Estates: Telling the Stories and Putting them Together

Reflection: Discussion of themes that emerged in the journals

Presentation: Work-in-progress.

Lab: Troubleshooting, review of skills necessary for production.

Due in Class: Script, selected images, and revised storyboards for each episode

Next Week's Assignment: Final script and remaining images.

10 Camfield Estates: Is There a Larger Story?

Reflection: On the relationship between the personal stories and the Camfield Estates story(ies). Discussion of themes that emerged in the journals.

Presentation: Presentation of final script and images, discussion of transitions, and identification of gaps.

Lab: Troubleshooting, review of skills needed for production

Due: Final script and remaining images. Bring revised storyboards.

Next Week's Assignment: Record audio track and produce rough cut of Camfield Estates episodes. Integrate audio and images in Premiere timeline.

11 Lab Session

Lab: This will cover additional skills needed to produce the final versions of your digital stories and prepare them for screening.

Due this week: Submit final script and story board for individual personal stories by second week of November. Individual meetings will be scheduled during the second-third weeks of November to discuss personal stories . Plan to work on your personal story in the coming weeks and to complete a full, working version with audio, images, transitions for screening in first week of December.

12 Production Workshop for Camfield Estates Story

Reflection: Discussion of themes emerged in the journals

Presentation: Screening of rough cut of Camfield Estates episodes.

Lab: Troubleshooting, transitions, and special effects

Due in Class: Rough cut of Camfield Estates episodes with audio and images integrated in Premiere timeline, including some transitions and special effects.

Next Week's Assignment: Full working version of Camfield Estates story with image transitions and special effects.

13 Preview: "Camfield Estates: Designers/Planners and Community"

Reflection: Discussion of themes that emerged in the journals

Presentation: In-class screening of Camfield Estates digital story drafts

Lab: Troubleshooting, production, revisions, and refinements

Due in Class: Full working version of Camfield Estates story

Next Week's Assignment: Final version of Camfield Estates story

14 Screening: Camfield Estates: Designers/Planners and Community

Presentation and Reflection: Screening and discussion of final Camfield Estates digital story

Due in Class: Final version of Camfield Estates digital story

Next Week's Assignment: Full working version of individual story

On Being a Designer/Planner and Working with Communities
15 Preview Screening: Reflections on Being a Designer/Planner

Presentation and Reflection: Screening and discussion of personal digital stories

Due in Class: Full working version of your personal digital story, with audio, images, transitions

Next Week's Assignment: Final revisions to your personal digital story

16 Reflections on Being a Designer/Planner

Due: Final personal digital story

Final journal reflecting on the semester

Epilogue
Ongoing Stories and Their Significance for Communities, Designers, and Planners

Presentation and Reflection: Public screenings with opportunities for conversations between storytellers and audiences will be held during the spring 2003 semester, and final stories will be posted on MIT's Center for Reflective Community Practice web site.