Things We Love, December

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Happiest of holidays to you all! Every month, the staff at Echo each choose something from the storytelling zeitgeist that’s inspired or impressed. This month, the things we love include…

…the idea of transcribing Vancouver’s founding history

Image courtesy City of Vancouver Archives

Echo’s Story Director, John Burns, notes that in 2012, former Vancouver mayor Sam Sullivan went looking for information on David Oppenheimer, the city’s second mayor (1888-1891). But when he got to the city archives to read up on those years on council, Sullivan discovered that the original documents were deteriorating and the microfiche copies were hardly better. To secure the memory of the remarkable Oppenheimer, he made a commitment to have the council minutes from Vancouver’s first five years transcribed and put online. And so Transcribimus (“we transcribe”) was born: a crowd-sourced, global project in which contributors try to decipher 19th century handwriting, then type up our founding history. They’re already 80% through those first five years, and now chomping at the bit to keep going. Minutes weren’t typed until the 1920s, and volunteer transcribers are still welcome! As steady users of city archives across North America, we heartily endorse the improvement of civic documents in our own back yard.

…reminders of the creativity of childhood

“Imagination” by PermaGrinFilms from PermaGrin Films on Vimeo.

Elena Janssen, Echo’s Project Manager, describes “Imagination” by PermaGrin Films as an amazing stop motion video exploring the creativity of our childhoods:

As children, we viewed the world through the lenses of our imaginations. The carpet became lava, the shadows formed monsters, the family minivan was a spaceship. But the older we got, the more reality set in, and soon we forgot the magic our minds could create. We invite you to step back into your childhood and take a look through the lens once again. Creators Marc Donahue and Roth Rind take you on a journey through the mind of a 10 year old boy living in the 80’s and 90’s.

It takes several views to catch all the carefully animated background detail. You can also view some very cool behind-the-scenes material here.  

…this video story based on a magazine cover


Why, asked genius cartoonist Chris Ware (known for his graphic novels Jimmy Corrigan and The Smartest Kid on Earth along with the Acme Novelty Library series), shouldn’t the cover of the New Yorker serve–like the magazine itself–as the “primary venue for complex contemporary fiction around”? Ware teamed up with Ira Glass and the radio program “This American Life” to explore the question. The result, according to Shannon Emmerson, our Director of Content Strategy, “is a gorgeous experiment in storytelling form.”

…this heartbreaking window display

Most Christmas store displays are full of holiday cheer and jolly faces. This window, by the Ontario Association Interval and Transition Houses, draws attention to something much darker – the rise in domestic violence each holiday season. Passerby are solicited to donate to the organization via text message. Echo’s Senior Editor Jane Hope reflects that often domestic violence is invisible to us in our lives, but the powerful storytelling of this experiential piece underlines a horrifying reality.

…this meditative, almost hypnotic, monsoon video

Studio Manager Norma Larson is exactly right when she says, “The photos are good but the videos are amazing! Very meditative – almost hypnotic.” Arizona-based photographer Davo Laninga spends his summers chasing weather in Arizona’s annual monsoon season – and this is the result.

…puppy love

Purina is trying something new to promote their puppy chow product – an entire campaign focused on Puppyhood. In addition to a landing page dedicated to parenting a puppy, they’ve published a series of video shorts chronicling puppy Chloe and her dopey owner. Lead Generation Specialist Carly Olsten loved the newest episode, stating simply,”THIS. Great storytelling commercial!” We agree.

…the trick to beating Grandma at Scrabble

Contrary to popular belief that an extensive vocabulary is the key to Scrabble, Vox is here to tell us that memorizing these eight words will make all the difference. Community Engagement Manager Taryn Hardes says Scrabble is synonymous with the holidays in her family, so this trick will come in handy. “The proudest two moments of my life have been when I’ve beaten my grandmother at Scrabble. Keep in mind we play every time we see each other. Thank you Vox, for setting me up for success.”