community storytelling

Video Theme: Community Storytelling 


grandfather and grandson fishing 400px.jpg
Water connects us in many ways. Share a story about how it
connects you to something important. 


You already know that water is vital to our existence. We are all connected by water, yet experience it and connect wth it in different ways. Rivers are great life forces that sustain our iconic pacific northwest salmon, trout, and sturgeon, support wildlife and provide people a place to boat, float, splash, fish, and paddle.  They are used for shipping goods and some are even used as a source of drinking water.

As cities and towns grew, they built storm sewer systems to move stormwater off buildings, houses and roads as quickly as possible. Today, water that used to soak into the ground flows across hard surfaces and down storm drains along streets, altering our natural waterways and increasing pollution. Storm drains usually lead directly to the nearest stream, carrying oil, grease, dirt, metals, pesticides, litter and bits of plastic are picked up along the way. This pollution is bad news for the water bodies that we use for recreation. It’s also really bad for the fish and wildlife that need clean, cold water to survive. Imagine how you would feel if someone started dumping dirty water into your bathtub while you were using it!

The streams and lakes you connect with may change in your lifetime; maybe they already have. Through the power of storytelling, you can help bring awareness to these special places and the improtance of protecting them. 

Theme 2: Community Storytelling 

This category is an invitation to tell a story that expresses your cultural or personal connection to water. This can be different for everyone so use this category as an opportunity to tell a story based on your personal experience and from your unique perspective. Below are some suggestions to get you started including prompts to help cultivate ideas. If you're highlighting an organization, be sure to include a call to action and a website where people can learn more. 

A. Follow a prompt

Use storytelling to touch upon one of these themes that describes your personal connection to water. Be sure to include a call to action!

  • “why/how I’m a student for clean water”
  • “my cultural connection to water is...”  
  • “I love my local river/stream/lake because…”

B. Be the change - highlight a group working to protect our waterways

Create a video highlighting a group working to protect water in your community. Organizations like the Watershed Alliance, Columbia Springs, Friends of Trees, Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership and Clark Conservation District help engage people in water protection, clean ups, and tree plantings to protect surface and groundwater. You may have even participated in activities with one of these groups through school or volunteering. Be sure to contact the organization you choose before you make your video! Include a call to action in your video and a website where people can learn more.

Video Tips

  1. Do not use stock footage and photos--we want to see your own video. Using copyrighted footage, photos or music will disqualify your video!
  2. Use YouTube’s Audio Library to find music or use something you’ve created yourself. Your school district may have audio files you could use, such as Sound FX. DO NOT use copyrighted music or your video will be disqualified. Note: there are many YouTube channels claiming to have royalty/copyright-free music. DO NOT use them as the music copyrights can change later and disqualify your video.
  3. Clean your lens. Film in landscape, or horizontally, so your video is wider than it is tall. Hold your phone with two hands while filming. 
  4. Select your video recording quality settings to high quality, 24 to 30 frames per second, use 60 fps if you plan to slow down the video. Render your edited video to the highest quality as well. Finally, under your YouTube profile, go to settings and select the highest upload quality. 
  5. If using a free video editor, select one that does not watermark and will export to YouTube quality (minimum resolution of 720p). Your school may have video editing software or you can search YouTube for advice on best free mobile phone editors for IOS or Android.
  6. English and other languages:  You may narrate your video in English and use another language as subtitles or narrate in another language and subtitle in English. We encourage cultural perspectives!
  7. Song parodies:  Check out this educational parody of this original Mr. Sandman by the Chordettes for inspiration. Of course, you’d pick a more modern song!

Resources to help you make your best video!


Questions? Contact us.