We all have a story to tell. And that’s true. Our stories are closely intertwined with our human nature and according to Dr. Fischer we do perceive and experience life as a sequence of narratives that entail different characters, conflicts, a beginning, middle and end.  But why are stories and storytelling so important? Through narrative our brains can process more complex concepts, better understand our experiences, relate with other individuals, connect, mobilise and collaborate. Through stories we can better understand the world and compose our own perception. As Hannah Arendt pointed out, narratives reveal the meaning without making a mistake to identify.

If somebody posts on facebook and then someone else posts something related and so on, instantly those people co-create a story and also share it with a large audience. The concept of digital storytelling is not just a growing trend. It has a unique power that we will try to harness with the help of digital storytelling expert Cynthia Hellen, who will be hosting a digital storytelling interactive workshop for our community. A few days away from the workshop, Cynthia took the time to answer a few questions. Cynthia Hellen is a NYC based Peruvian-American, entrepreneur, writer, producer, director, and speaker. In her role as Founder and Chief Executive Officer, at SMPLCT Lab, she is involved in all aspects of the companys social and environmental impact. SMPLCT Lab is a for-profit R & D lab located in NY, New York, with a mission to create cross cultural collaboration between sectors; artists, designers, technologists, scholars, researches, policy-makers, and citizens worldwide.

Cynthia Hellen Headshot

Could you share with us some social enterprises or non profits that you have worked with?
In 2010, I worked with She’s the First, a US based nonprofit sponsoring girls education to create GIRLS WHO ROCK, annual concert in NYC connecting entertainment, technology and design communities to advocate for girls and education worldwide, while mentoring local student volunteers to be leaders. GIRLS WHO ROCK has been featured on glamour.com, The New York Daily News, The Huffington Post, seventeen.com, NBC New York, among other major media outlets, and has the honor of partnering with Internet Week New York.

In 2013, I worked with Beta-i, a Lisbon based non-profit association created in 2010, with the mission to improve entrepreneurship through 3 main acting principles: create and boost a  network of entrepreneurship, with global ambition and facilitate their access to investment, create space, services and products focused on startups. We launched Explorers Festival, a 3-day entrepreneurship festival in Lisbon, Portugal.

In 2015, I worked with Habitat Pro Association, is an advocacy organization whose intentions are to end the inequality of indigenous women and youth rights in Peru, and launched WISH 2016, an event bringing brilliant minds & organizations together to discuss indigenous issues and sustainability in regards to culture, youth and technology.

Do you have some concrete projects you have worked with that use the human centered design and are directed to people under/at the poverty line? Is there something we can use to promote it and give reference to it?
Although we cannot share much but yes we are currently working on a project with an international digital consulting agency, on a design thinking interactive event specially for low income communities. Check back at our SMPLCT Lab site for updates on this new project!


Do you have examples of crowdfunding campaigns that you were involved through SMPLCT Lab?

In 2015, I took part of, a campaign to crowd-create a book featuring research, stories and perspectives about women’s global participation in the innovation economy. Learn more: http://innovatingwomen.

We saw that you have been to other Impact Hubs too. How would you describe your Impact Hub experience?
I am currently speaking for a second year in a row at TechCamp Venezuela 2016 #TechCampVZLA2016 which is being hosted at Impact Hub Caracas. The hub is run by Claudia Valladares, who is a passionate social entrepreneur and an exceptional citizen working hard to inspired, support and promote social entrepreneurship in Venezuela. I am also connected with Impact Hub NYC, and have friend in Impact Hub RecifeImpact Hub SF, Impact Hub Boston, Impact Hub DC!

*The Universe is made of stories, not of atoms” is the opening line of Muriel Rukeyser’s poem “The Speed of Darkness” (1968) 

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