Here’s a bit about my story, Jennifer Thompson – Founder of Engaging Solutions.
After spending years in the film and television industry in Sydney, I moved to Canberra to collect oral histories for the National Film and Sound Archive. All of which was great fun and challenging work, but my desire to do more to help others was always bubbling just under the surface.
Watching our young child fight and win a battle with pneumococcal meningitis prompted a new perspective on life. This lead to my Bachelor of Community Education (community development & counselling) where I put Digital Storytelling to the test. I wanted to know “Can Digital Storytelling REALLY help?” and my finding was this:
“A digital storytelling project will lose its integrity and strength unless the basic principles of community development and counselling are maintained at all times.
Without best practice, digital storytelling is just another activity that has the potential to achieve little and harm some.”
I put myself through the process I would be asking others to go through – it was tough, empowering and therapeutic. In 2008 I completed the Digital Storytelling Facilitator training at Australian Centre of Moving Image (ACMI) which included making my own personal digital story – A mother’s reflection on the trauma of child illness and how important having your voice heard can be to the recovery process “The Power of Love and Being Heard”. This process helped (and continues to help) me immensely and thereby gives me the confidence in recommending this process for other individuals.
In 2010 I had the amazing opportunity to do my final year internship with UNHCR Regional Office in Canberra (ROC) where I reviewed their broader-community engagement including Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands. Again, digital storytelling came through as one of the primary recommendations regarding potential broader-community engagement on refugee issues. For a condensed version of my report go to this article in the UNHCR ROC 2011 Newsletter “Broader-Community Engagement as a Refugee Protection Tool” by Jennifer Thompson.
After graduating, I gained experience as a Project Officer and then Executive Officer with local sustainability not-for-profit organisation SEE-Change, which gave me the confidence to run my own organisation. This was a brief but profound experience for me and I will always be grateful for their ongoing support in my decision to follow my dream…
And so in 2011 Engaging Solutions was born!!
The response from the Canberra community has been overwhelming and their trust in my abilities has enabled individuals to share their story and thereby help organisations and government address issues such as self identity, self expression whilst living with a disability, social isolation, indigenous health, environmental sustainability, refugee training & employment.
“Strengths-based, change-from-below community development
is at the heart of every Engaging Solutions project:
ACCESS, EQUITY, RIGHTS & RESPONSIBILITY”
Recently, I added Memorial Videos to the list of services as it is an area I have been keen to explore through my personal witnessing of people’s anguish over not being able to articulate themselves in the intensely emotional atmosphere of funerals and memorial services.
“This has helped my grieving process. I have talked to counsellors, which helped a bit. But this really feels like it has changed my life in a way that I think the grief is not so raw now. Jennifer’s persistence and diligence made me go further than I would have done. To do it with others has been wonderful. Hearing their stories and them hearing mine has been beautiful.”
(Ron, Digital Storytelling Workshop Participant)
Engaging Solutions is an ethical business and I therefore endeavour to make ethical business decisions wherever possible. For example, I choose BankMECU for all banking, and Australian Ethical for my superannuation management. By the end of 2013 Engaging Solutions will be powered by the sun through solar panels and I drive a hybrid car (working my way towards an electric car!). To me, business sustainability includes work-life balance and so most of Engaging Solutions work is done during school hours, so I can spend quality time with my young family.
So if you haven’t already, please feel free to click on the WATCH STORIES page and (respectfully) view some of the stories I have had the privilege to facilitate.
If you like my approach to digital storytelling I’d love to get together to learn about your story – EVERYONE HAS STORIES!
To find out more about my approach head to the Digital Storytelling page.