OPEN HOUSE: Please join us in celebrating our new digiSTORY Academy!

We are happy to announce the opening of our new classroom in the Connecting for Good facilities at 3210 Michigan Avenue in Kansas City, Missouri 64109. Come to our open house celebration on Wednesday, November 30th between 5:00 and 7:30 p.m.   Come and enjoy refreshments while you see examples of the types of equipment, projects and materials we offer in our digital storytelling workshops. Program leaders and partners will share comments at 5:30 about this new expansion of our digital storytelling programming in Kansas City.

Bring the family! We’re located on the second floor. Plenty of well-lighted parking is available on the west side of the Linwood Area Ministry Place (LAMP) building.

digiSTORY KC to Launch digiSTORY Academy

digistory__logo--roundOn November 28, 2016, the Digital Storytelling Center of Kansas City will open its new digiSTORY Academy in the Connecting for Good facility at 3210 Michigan Avenue in Kansas City, Missouri. “This is an exciting and significant step for digiSTORY KC…“ says Ron Green, Executive Director “… because we no longer are dependent on other non-profit programs to provide the equipment and space we need to offer our digital storytelling workshops to kids in KC’s urban core.”

connectingforgoodTom Esselman, CEO of KC’s Connecting for Good, approached the digiSTORY KC organization about collaborating to offer digital storytelling workshops in its space at the facility. “Connecting For Good is expanding its programs for digital education, careers, and life skills in the urban core. We welcome digiSTORY as an exciting partner in the expansion of the beautiful LAMP campus.”


A key mission of digiSTORY KC is “to inspire and educate the next generation of digital storytellers.” Although we’re starting with just one classroom, we will now be able to offer after-school, evening, Saturday and week-long summer workshops,” says Green. We invite the public to join us for our Open House on Wednesday, November 30th from 5:00 – 7:30 p.m. Visitors may drop in any time during that period. Comments from the Executive Director, key partners and the board of directors will be shared at 5:30.

The program launch will include four workshops: two targeted for kids and two targeted for teens and adults:

“We are being very aggressive about this launch,” points out Ron Green. “We are actively seeking to expand our volunteer base to help us meet a demanding schedule of workshops. We also are falling short of the equipment and materials needed to function at the level of quality we desire for our workshops. Donations could never be more timely for our organization than right now. We believe that our leap of faith to move the program forward will be alleviated by the demand we have heard from parents for after-school programs that are fun for kids yet meet their needs for enhanced digital literacy.”

During digiSTORY KC’s first two years, it focused primarily on serving kids in KC’s urban core through partnerships with organizations like Operation Breakthrough. The board of directors recently voted to implement a new strategy that now encourages collaboration between underserved kids from the urban core with kids from outside of the urban core. The goal is to help kids from different cultural backgrounds to collaborate on projects that will help them appreciate the talent and innovation of their fellow team members. “Digital media is one of the most collaborative industries around,” cites Green. “Just look at a movie’s credits and you’ll get a sense of how dependent the production is on talented people working together effectively. By encouraging kids from within and outside of KC’s urban core to work together, we hope not only to bridge KC’s “digital divide” but also its “cultural divide.”

Because digiSTORY is a relatively new non-profit organization, winning funding support from area firms and foundations has been a challenge. digiSTORY KC hopes to meet workshop program expenses by charging modest workshop fees for those who can afford to pay them while waiving fees for those from families facing financial hardships.

“By offering our expanded workshop program, we hope to meet two key goals for our digiKIDS KC program: 1) to enhance the digital literacy of area kids, and 2) to introduce kids to STEAM-based career opportunities in digital media. These careers can provide rewarding professions while helping to fill the future needs of Kansas City’s robust digital storytelling industry.

Digital Fun at Maker Faire KC 2016


digiSTORY KC was part of the fun at Maker Faire KC 2016.  We hosted a booth in the “Stage to Screen” section on the lower floor of Union Station. We provided hands-on experience for those interested in adding an action sequence to our Claymation animation.  Lots of kids of all ages joined in on the ongoing production.  See the results for each day’s compilation on our YouTube Channel at these links:

Saturday, June 25th:

Sunday, June 26th:


We also demonstrated 3D virtual reality through Google Cardboard viewers.

Many booth visitors expressed interest in participating in future workshops hosted by digiSTORY KC’s digiKIDS program.  Public workshops on digital storytelling topics will be offered for kids later this year.  Watch our events page for information on when these workshops will be available.  If you would like to be added to our distribution list for these public workshops for kids, contact Ron Green, our Executive Director, at

MakerFaireKCLogo copy

Every Child is an Artist!

Jeff Daly helps kids embrace their natural creativity–and he encourages teachers to nurture that creativity. When Jeff speaks with kids, he asks them to raise their hands if they are artists. For Kindergarten classes, all of the kids raise their hands. By the third grade about half raise their hands. By the fifth grade a smattering of hands will go up.

Jeff contends “…it is crucial to encourage kids to create. They find their way in the world by expressing themselves and interacting with others. Early in life we are showered with blocks, crayons and finger-paints to stimulate our imagination.  As we grow older, people become more critical of our actions and start making suggestions on how we should behave.   Play is then viewed as a childish activity rather than an important part of the innovative process.”

Cartoonist Jeff Daly will use illustrations and animation to highlight these insights in his upcoming talk “Every Child is an Artist!.”  Jeff worked as a Writer/Artist at Hallmark Cards for 38 years.  He created an award-winning animated short, gave creative talks at Kaleidoscope and grade schools, coached his daughter’s soccer teams and mentored students in the Study Buddy program at Longfellow Elementary School.  His message shares how important confidence and self-esteem are to good performance.

Storytelling combines all forms of self-expression: literature, performing and visual arts. Using animation, Jeff will discuss how to inspire students to use their imagination and gain self-esteem through storytelling.


Thursday, June 9th

5:30 – 6:30 p.m.

Think Big Coworking

1712 Main, Kansas City, MO 64108


REGISTER to attend this free event


We Have a New Look

Welcome to our new website! As our organization grows and evolves, so must our face to the world. We are excited to launch our newly revised website along with our new logo and visual identity.

We greatly appreciate the web wizardry of Chris Boyle who generously designed and developed our new site for us. We needed a site that was appealing and user-friendly yet simpler for us to manage. Chris came through for us in a big way. He has a growing new business in website development. Check out his site at

digistory__logo--taglineWe are also excited to introduce our new logo and visual identity. Charlie O’Shields, Executive Creative Director of Venn49, generously created and designed our new logo, color palette and program-specific logos. We like the simplicity of digiSTORY Kansas City and the opportunity to add new cities to our base logo as our scope grows beyond Kansas City.

digistory__logo--freddyCharlie also conceived our new “Fast Freddie” character—the circle with the fast-forward icons that become eyeballs for an animated character. We want to be a “fast forward” organization—one that looks to the future and helps lead the way to progress in the ever-emerging space of digital storytelling. “Fast Freddie” will also serve as our new favicon. Do you have an idea for an interesting way to animate Fast Freddie? We encourage our animator friends to develop clever animation segments and submit them for use on our website.

We encourage you to subscribe to RSS feeds from our website. Stay up-to-date on what’s happening with digiSTORY KC programs, workshops and related conferences. Join in on our blog conversations on all aspects of digital storytelling and its fascinating growth. Exciting things are happening for digital storytelling in Kansas City. Join us in accelerating fast-forward growth in Kansas City and beyond.


Maker Matters

It was time for a new digital storytelling workshop and the kids were coming in to get settled before starting time.  This was our first workshop outside of Kansas City’s urban core.  This particular workshop was being held in a middle class, suburban/rural community.  Access to digital devices, wifi and cool apps is normally a big barrier in the neighborhoods where we offer our workshops.  In this case, the kids who showed up were digitally savvy and in some cases economically privileged.  One young man brought an expensive laptop and popped open a fairly sophisticated audio editing application.  He was working on a music video.  Others were talking about cool apps and using the lingo from the world of wifi wonders.

Immediately I began second-guessing my plans for opening the workshop—to have the kids create their own flip books and thaumatropes to demonstrate how rapidly moving single image frames create the illusion of movement.  It usually is a great way to drive home the fundamentals of frames and frame-rates for animation.  Surely these kids were too sophisticated to start with such a childish activity.  How could I adjust for these kids who seemed obviously too mature for that!?!

It was too late to make dramatic changes at this point, so I plowed ahead with having the kids cut out and create the spinning thaumatropes and the flip books.

I was astonished at the result.  They leaped into the exercise with the energy of Santa’s little workshop elves.  They reveled in a flurry of activities: cutting—shaping—stringing—fastening. They took great delight in seeing their crafted objects come to life.  These were toys that were centuries old, yet they still somehow fascinated today’s savvy digikids.

I was embarrassed that I had overlooked one of the most fundamental drivers of our KCdigiKids program—we create makers.   Sure, we focus on making them digital story makers, but it’s still all about makers.  Making stuff matters!  We give kids the opportunity to imagine, to create—to produce.  Nothing locks in learning like making a concept active and tangible.  There’s a reason we call our learning sessions “workshops” and not “classes”—we get kids actively engaged in creating something they can share with pride to others.

Our KCdigiKids workshops are fun!  They need to be.  Whether it’s flip books or video game apps, we are teaching kids to be makers in a world that is constantly changing its technology.  Today these projects may seem like just a fun way to amuse kids, but it’s how we prepare them for tomorrow that really matters.  Our ever-changing technology will dramatically alter what skills and knowledge these kids will need when they grow up.  Our job as educational makers is to be certain they are ready to flourish in that world.

Disney’s Laugh-O-Gram Studio: Future Location of KCdigiSTORY Center

The Digital Storytelling Center of Kansas City has been working with several Kansas City organizations to develop a plan that would renovate Walt Disney’s Laugh-O-Gram Films building at 31st & Forest. The historically restored building would feature four program areas:

  • Welcome Center
  • Museum of Animation
  • Flex Center
  • Co-working Office Space

Under this plan, the KCdigiSTORY Center’s offices would be located in the co-working office space and digital storytelling courses would be offered in the flex center. The co-working office space would be shared with new start-ups in digital media as part of a new media incubator program.

Walt Disney rented the west end of the second story of this building when he started his Laugh-O-Grams Film business in 1922. Here he hired several staff members whom he trained in animation. The experience that he and his staff gained in animation there helped them to become the founding animators of many of the leading animation studios that still dominate the animation scene today.

The building is owned by the Thank You Walt Disney organization, a non-profit group that has restored the crumbling exterior, replaced the roof and repaired floors. Thank You Walt Disney has worked with the BNIM architects, KCdigiSTORY Center, Mid-America Regional Council (MARC), KCEDC and others to identify solutions for renovating the building and making it a museum and digital media innovation center. MARC secured an EDA Planning Grant that provided funding to conduct a feasibility study for renovating the building and offering programs that would expand KC’s growing digital storytelling industry. The report from that study, Re-Imagine: Laugh-O-Gram Center for Animation & Innovation, provides several recommendations for achieving those goals.

Principals from this Laugh-O-Gram initiative recently met with the City of Kansas City, Missouri to secure their support for tax incentives and other support for the redevelopment of this building and the surrounding area. Plans are underway to secure an EDA Public Works grant and to start a capital campaign to secure the funding needed to renovate the building and equip it for programming. The development timeline projects that the building could be open to the public as early as the first quarter of 2018.

Stakeholders Help Set Vision for KCdigiSTORY Center

The Diastole Scholars Center was the setting for a visioning event conducted by KCdigiSTORY Center in April with thirty-two key stakeholders. Four key stakeholder groups were formed to help the Center clarify priorities: economic and workforce development (KCdigiLeaders), youth & non-profit (KCdigiKids), post-secondary educators (KCdigiProfs) and media professionals (KCdigiPros).

Executive Director, Ron Green, provided an update on programs and strategic direction for the KC digiSTORY Center. Jeremy Knoll, architect from BNIM, provided an overview of the EDA Planning Grant funded feasibility report for renovating the Laugh-O-Gram Studios building at 31st & Forest.

Each of the four breakout groups provided feedback on KC digiSTORY Center strategies and helped establish priority programs. Here are some key recommendations from their sessions:

  • Establish strong brand messaging & communication
  • Get in on the ground floor of KC’s new KC Rising and Lumina development programs
  • Work with community colleges to develop fast track programs to entry-level positions
  • Act now to implement cornerstone professional development programs for KCdigiPros
  • Grow the digiSTORY conference
  • Deliver curriculum & digital media educational content support for K-12 and after-school programs
  • Establish a regional media training educational network: coordinate with local firms to learn their needs for media specialization and certification

The recommendations from this session are being incorporated into KC digiSTORY Center’s four-year plan. This plan will help the Center achieve levels of annual growth and progress that will enable it to offer full programming in January of 2018 when the Laugh-O-Gram building is projected to open its doors to the public.

Welcome to Your World, Alina

I’m thrilled to have a new granddaughter–Alina.  Here’s a link to my video message to her.  I can’t help it–I’m a digital storyteller.

Welcome to Our World, Alina

How Michael Hauge Helped Hallmark with Scriptwriting

It’s 2010 and a skunkworks team of Hallmark managers and directors have started to meet in the Hallmark Café to thwart an imminent talent gap. Except for Hallmark’s editors in their book division, most writers had very little experience writing stories. Their stock in trade had been the creation of expressive sentiments reflecting the emotional needs of people sending greeting cards for a wide range of occasions and sending situations. Now e-greetings were catching on big-time and story development became much more important to the skill sets required of Hallmark writers and editors. Hallmark Licensing was also jumping into the story development fray by launching network television specials such as Hoops & YoYo Ruin Christmas and Jingle All the Way.

Writing and Editorial Managers recognized that they needed to provide some quality training in story development. Who did they turn to? Michael Hauge, a seasoned Hollywood script consultant who had worked as a script consultant to Will Smith and who had consulted on scores of Hollywood movie hits–movies like The Karate Kid, Masters of the Universe, I Am Legend, Hancock, and many more. So they hired Michael to come in and offer workshops to the writers on story structure and development. The result for the writers was superb. Though most had some story development training, Michael gave them a solid story structure model, the Michael Hauge Six Stage Plot Structure model, which helped them understand the key story stages and turning points that make stories compelling.

The KCdigiSTORY Center is making an updated version of this story development workshop available to those in the Kansas City area who want to improve their story development skills. What’s great about Michael’s workshop is that it gives writers what they need to know about story structure and development whether they are writing a movie script or a 30-second video story for social media. Michael Hauge’s Story Mastery Workshop will be held on Wednesday, October 28th from 9:00 – 5:00 in the Google Fiber Space at 1814 Westport Road, Kansas City, Missouri 64111. Registration is available at this link:

The cost for the one-day workshop is $220 plus EventBrite fees. Discounts are available to members of Kansas City professional organizations such as the ASBPE, Kansas City Women in Film & Television, KC-Independent Filmmakers Coalition, Cinema KC, and the Kansas City Film Society.