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Storytelling at Portland Youth Builders

Getting an opportunity to talk with others about a shared interest will give way to engaging conversation and a means for each party to get to know each other on a deeper level.

An opportunity to do just this presented itself recently to our employees, and the people we engaged with are the students at Portland Youth Builders (PYB). Founded in 1995, Portland Youth Builders is a nonprofit organization committed to providing long-term support for low-income youth.  Each year, they provide education, vocational training, and leadership development services for over 200 young people between the ages of 17 and 24 who have not completed high school and who face significant barriers to success. Four employees of HB Design went to PYB to work with their tech and media students.

The students in this class are learning Photoshop, InDesign, Pro Tools, and other industry-standard programs, in an agency-style environment. They serve clients in the small business community who pay the school for their creative services, and the students operate under the same circumstances as an agency—they have client meetings, presentations, and deadlines.

PYB asked that HB Design come and give a presentation about storytelling in media. Rather than a presentation, we chose to do a workshop instead and allow the students to share with us their use of storytelling. We had them break out into four groups. Each of us worked with our assigned group and provided a storytelling scenario. Each scenario was presented as a client coming to them to develop a campaign:

  • Safe sex
  • Quitting smoking
  • Tech free zones
  • Bullying

The next hour was spent brainstorming and outlining a campaign, followed by each group presenting their campaign. It was not only engaging and fun, but a truly insightful experience in learning how these groups of young people approach problem solving, storytelling, and collaboration.

We believe we all learned something from the experience whether it be something tactical like what it’s like working at a design agency or more esoteric like how every one of us brings something valuable to the table.

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