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It was "all about story" kind of day!

When I think of the work we do at Making Media That Matters, I believe that at its core is the commitment to create conditions for young women to unleash their pure brilliance. Yes, we teach them the skills and provide them with the tools. Yes, as Pumehana likes to say, we make the “space,” but it’s up to them to take the space. We - the facilitators - step back and exit. The students decide the hows, the whats, the whys. Sometimes it is a messy process (it is what I like to call “creative chaos”), but I also frequently remind us all to trust the process.

We began the session as usual, with a welcome and check-ins. As I was asking “How are you?” to each participant, the most common answer was “tired.” I was tired too, as it was quite an eventful and traumatic day (the day of the Dr. Blasey Ford hearing, which I followed from 4:30 am that morning). But then, we began with a fun game aimed at making up a story right there on the spot. In turn, each of us added a sentence to make up a collective moʻolelo. The outcome was quite hilarious. It was a great exercise in warming up the group to a session entirely dedicated to stories.

Once the story-game was over, it was time to read the movie pitches that each participant was asked to write (meaning, the stories they hoped would turn into films for our program). I collected them all, printed them anonymously, and posted them on the wall for everybody to read. We had about 13 stories organized as a “gallery walk.” Everybody took the time to read each of them (and were also trying to guess who wrote what story)! Next, each participant was asked to write on an index card the two story ideas that most excited them, along with their preferred filmmaking roles. Each of the mentors and instructors left the room, in order to remove themselves from controlling the decision-making power concerning what story was going to be produced. So, yes, we “trusted the process” and in less than one hour, stories to be produced were chosen and film crews were formed!

I find this one of the hardest parts of the program, because we want to facilitate these choices in the most fair and just way, but there is always room for mistakes. This time around, each participant shared an idea (or more) for a story to produce. And, whereas it seemed the best way to make sure everyone got the opportunity to share a story and had a story to tell, we also realized that we were not that prepared in addressing the potential disappointment of the writers whose stories were not going to be chosen. We have very limited resources and can produce only 3 films, so with 14 participants, 11 stories were about to be left untold. We (the staff) were a bit nervous as we waited to hear how it went.

From the students’ feedback, it seemed it went quite smoothly, and sounded like they welcomed it as an opportunity to develop leadership skills. Yet, we are still aware of how “new” we are to each other, and so we will continue to find other ways to gather how each felt about about the process. We shared that we are all learning how to move forward and that feedback is always appreciated. We are aware that it is not enough to say these statements; it is key to build relationships for open, honest, and trustworthy conversations.

The rest of the session was spent on working on the stories. So each crew found a spot to work comfortably and in no time this week session was over.

For our closing circle, Katie asked about Halloween and the funniest/best costume they had ever worn (if they celebrated the holiday). There were quite a few creative and funny ones that made everybody laugh loudly! My personal favorite was the “toilet” costume, in which one of our former students (now a mentor!) made herself into a toilet, and used the “bowl” as a means to gather all of her candy. :p As we all said goodbye, I saw (and felt) that the “tired” vibe that was prominent at the beginning of the session had entirely dissipated, and everyone left energetic and happy.

Grateful. Simply grateful of being able to witness and be part of another Making Media That Matters session.

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