Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Spirit of the Story: Interview with Audrey Robinson Favorito

Audrey Robinson Favorito is one of the advisers for the Downstream/Upstream project and also volunteered her education and video documentary experience to capture the feel of the Downstream Boat Tour in a video short called, “Downstream/Upstream Day 7: Riverboat Journey.”

Link to Video

JKB: Tell us about yourself.
ARF: I'm a freelance media producer interested in how young children relate to the natural world.  I enjoy helping children create stories, short videos, based on their experiences and their imagination. I've come to the Downstream/Upstream project with the goal of creating a short video documenting the spirit of the boat tour experience. 

JKB: What were your impressions of the boat tour?
ARF: Being on a Jonathon Padelford boat on the Mississippi River with exuberant young children was a festive occasion.  The children brought hand decorated bottles of tap water from their preschool faucets and ceremoniously poured the water over the edge of the boat at the place where the metro's treated water is returned to the Mississippi, completing their part of the urban water cycle. They sang, danced and asked many spirited questions of Padelford Captain Bob and Park Ranger Brian Goodspeed.  But mostly, they gleefully explored the boat and enjoyed the view with their friends.  Adults and children alike had smiles on their faces all morning long. The Mississippi captivated all of us!

JKB: Given your storytelling experience with young children, what are your observations about the Downstream/Upstream project?
ARF: One of the things I like best about this project is that the children and their teachers met and talked with people from their public works community. Equally important, the public works professionals got to meet the children and their teachers, affording them an opportunity to know them better too.  I think it's a rich experience for everyone involved.

In the past number of years, I've been fortunate enough to create video projects with preschool aged children at a St. Paul preschool following the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education.  An important focus of the Reggio Emilia philosophy is children, in collaboration with their parents and teachers, learn about their community through exploration and discovery.  Given that mission, the children and their teachers do things like walk to their neighborhood grocery store and interview the people who work there.  With the Reggio Emilia approach, a trip to the library isn't about simply checking out books, it's also about having a thoughtful exchange with the librarian, building a connected community.

JKB: What have you learned?
ARF: Through Downstream/Upstream, I've learned about the urban water cycle, right along with the children and their teachers! It's been a wonderful journey and I've much respect for the depth and scope of the project.

Audrey conducting an interview for the video
In working with storytelling and video, I've learned to honor the natural curiosity of young children, listen to their questions and support their interests and imagination.  Do your best to document their progress at the time they're creating their art and stories, because with children, the creative moment is often fleeting. The window of time you have to understand their connections and thinking is often short, so you need to be ready when it happens!

JKB: Thanks,  Audrey for your contributions and insights!

Audrey can be reached at