Meeting in the Story Circle

 (3 to 5 days) 

Community Works introduced At the Heart of the Matter in spring, 2014. The storytelling approach we use is modelled after the one introduced by Story Center (formally known as Center for Digital Storytelling) over 26 years ago. Since then, it has found its way into many fields in North America and internationally. It has been used as a transformative resource by social service and health providers, educators, oral history researchers, and groups that are committed to building community and to social, environmental, and political change. 


This process has been particularly valuable for storytellers who have been silenced because of poverty, histories of violence and oppression, gender, age, disability, and membership in marginalized populations.


But it is for storytellers of all ages and from all backgrounds. For all of us carry stories: of joy and sorrow; of the challenges we have met or are in the process of addressing; of life transitions and decisive moments; of discovery and recovery; of displacement and resettlement; of injustices and of our efforts to heal ourselves and our world from injustice…..

PLEASE NOTE:  At the Heart of the Matter is not a video editing course. While we teach video software applications, the process is more closely connected to the oral storytelling tradition, participatory education, and communal art making.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF PROCESS:    In an At the Heart of the Matter workshop, Community Works facilitators offer:

  • a safe and respectful storytelling space where participants can take time to listen deeply to themselves and others, and where they can learn that it is most often our stories that best guide and nourish us - not the stories that come out of our media-saturated, consumer-driven world; 

  • tutorials on video editing tools used by participants to create short  (2-5 minutes) multi-media first person stories;

  • The process ends with a screening of the completed videos


DELIVERY OPTIONS:   Community Works offers two options for At the Heart of the Matter workshops:


  • Public workshops with open registration. These workshops are delivered over 3-4 days. Participants are invited to explore first person stories that are particularly meaningful to them, their families, and their cultural and geographic communities.


  • Workshops delivered through partnerships with agencies, organizations, faith-based groups, community groups, and First Nations. These workshops can be stand-alone offerings, or can be incorporated into larger projects that explore issues relevant to the group’s mandate.   


We provide start to finish project planning and development services, including assistance with community engagement strategies and fundraising through proposal development.

Animating images and adding music to digital stories.



My students’ story-telling experience with Community Works  opened up a whole new world for them! They felt an instant connection and sense of trust with the  workshop facilitators which led them to share stories that came from the depths of their hearts. The students’ greatest source of fulfillment from the workshop came from the feeling of “family” that they developed with fellow participants.  - Jaime Friesen-Pankratz, Head Teacher, Regional Connections Inc., Winkler, MB

It was a joy to witness how the process invited what I can only name ‘poetry’ to arise from undiscovered places within us and take shape in the world. It was like witnessing birth. Amazing!   - Amy Teakle, Spiritual Care Student (Winnipeg, MB.

What I enjoyed most is what I consider to be the most difficult part of digital storytelling - the process of " finding my story". Frances' dept of knowledge, experience, advise and method of instruction were incredibly helpful and inspiring. - Sarah Story, M.A. Student/ Archival Studies & History (Winnipeg, MB.)

Thank you for letting me experience first -hand that a supportive community can exist in this day and age. Robert and Frances provided a level of welcoming that I have found rare. The facilitators and the members of the group were genuine examples of how 'Community Works'. - Jen  (Winnipeg, MB.)

​What you did was very emotionally supportive without going into group therapy. You were both present and available for what participants needed. And gentle without being coddling. It felt as if everyone was 'in the right place at the right time' doing something important. - Janine Tougas, Coordinator, Conteurs du Manitoba, International Storytelling Festival (Winnipeg, MB.)

Frances did an excellent job of teasing out the real story... both in setting the right tone in the room, and in her questions and work with people individually. The hands on nature of the workshop -the fact that everyone had a completed project at the end - was very meaningful and important. -Liz James, Student (Saskatoon, SK.)

Why Community Works is guided by  Story Center's approach