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Storytelling and Emotional Connection: Laura Lo Forti on Media That Matters

lofortiThe 2015 Media That Matters conference is right around the corner, so we decided to let our #MTMDC panelists to introduce themselves and explain in their own words how they engage with media that matters.

A Fourth Act’ co-founder and multimedia producer Laura Lo Forti will present the Harvis app on the Media Impact Tools Showcase.    

“I am the co-founder of A Fourth Act (www.afourthact.com), a studio that builds processes and digital tools to unleash the full potential of stories to spark civic engagement, turning passive audiences into communities.

I believe well-told stories establish an emotional connection with others, across distances and social boundaries, transporting us in a reality we might never experience personally. That sense of empathy has an incredible potential to shift our attitudes and behavior, and even ignite our commitment to a cause. The cumulative effect can influence public policy, ultimately contributing to systemic change.

As a  journalist and multimedia producer I spent a great amount of time exploring how to craft stories that evoke empathy and elevate the voices of underserved and under-represented communities. I was honored to collaborate with documentarian and “digital folk artist”  Brenda Ann Kenneally and co-founded The Raw File (www.therawfile.org). Her immersive approach to reporting and commitment to “people’s histories” inspired me to explore more participatory and inclusive ways of telling stories.

I became a “story midwife,” developing projects that support marginalized communities and vulnerable individuals in documenting and communicating their personal narratives through digital media. With ‘A Fourth Act,’ we build the missing piece, creating an engagement framework that blends technology and participatory practices to foster solution-oriented dialogues around stories for change .

Recently, we’ve been collaborating with multimedia producer and documentary filmmaker Tim Matsui on his multi-platform project Leaving The Life (www.leaving-the-life.com) on the issues of sexual exploitation and trafficking of children in the United States. We are using our app Harvis to capture stakeholders’ emotional response during screenings of his powerful stories, and to “harvest” their insights. On the “story midwifery” front, I have been leading a community-based oral history project, The Vanport Multimedia Project, that’s engaging hundreds of people in bringing to light a hidden chapter of Oregon’s past.

I look forward to sharing how Harvis gives us a snapshot of who is attending a screening, and allows us to learn what moments of a story impact them the most, and what experience and insights they bring into the theater. I hope to connect with storytellers and impact producers who are interested in exploring the potential of this tool for engagement and how it can strengthen their projects.”

Meet Laura and other innovative media makers at the Media That Matters conference this February. If you haven't signed up yet, visit the registration page.