Announcing our 2019 Wildland Fire Digital Storytelling Micro-grant Winners!

The American Wildfire Experience is proud to introduce the following twelve talented wildland firefighters — winners of our inaugural Wildland Fire Digital Storytelling Micro-grant cycle.  Chosen from among many talented applicants, our selectees represent a cross-section of U.S. and Canadian wildland firefighters intent on telling the story of wildland fire in creative, authentic, insightful and compelling ways.

Our digital storytelling grants are intended to help these wildland fire content creators/creatives–firefighters who are already creating and sharing their photography, videography, and/or writing with the broader wildland fire community–share their experience with fire on an even larger scale.  Each applicant was asked to create a project proposal that would help to tell the story of fire in an interesting and compelling way, and we are excited to see what they produce this season.  Click on the images below to read a short bio, synopsis of their proposed project, and examples of their current and previous work!

What is digital storytelling?

At The American Wildfire Experience, we define digital storytelling as the process of coupling personal stories with broader public issues (like wildland fire) by leveraging digital technology and media to showcase stories and the storytellers. We consider digital storytelling to be a process of community building and an integral part of educating the public about wildland fire.

Digital storytelling can take many shapes – such as a thoughtful series of photographs with creative captions posted on Instagram, a short video with interviews, fireline footage, and/or narration shot on your smartphone and shared on Vimeo, or a blog-post that showcases writing and artwork from the fireline. These are just a few examples of digital storytelling that wildland firefighters are creating every season. Put simply, at The American Wildfire Experience, we want to encourage and promote quality wildland fire storytelling that helps influence public perceptions about wildland fire and shines a light on our human experience with fire.

What are Micro-grants?

Micro-grants are simply small grants in terms of funding amount.  In our case, we offered $500.00 grants with the hope that these grants would encourage thoughtful wildland fire storytelling by active content creators on social media, improve the production value of our grantee’s creative works by providing digital storytelling equipment/tools, and will begin to build a cadre of wildland firefighters developing engaging content well aligned with AWE’s mission.

The 2019 grants were made possible through the generous support of MYSTERY RANCH (sponsoring five grants), WATERAX (sponsoring four grants focused on Canadian wildland fire storytellers), and private sponsorship of Peter and Jane Carpenter (two grants) and Bethany Hannah (one grant).  If you are interested in sponsoring our 2020 grant cycle, please reach out and we’ll set up a time to chat!

Get involved:

If you are a wildland fire digital storyteller (e.g., love to capture the story of fire through fireline photography, film, or writing), we intend to offer another micro-grant cycle for the 2020 fire year, with applications opening this winter.  If you’d like to apply, we encourage you to tag us in your social media posts this fire season using the hashtags: #wildfireexperience, #AWEfirestories, #thesmokeygeneration, and #lifeonthefireline to shine a spotlight on your work.

Another way to get involved is just to start sharing the story of wildland fire in a responsible and creative way through your normal outlets — when you post images on social media, take the time to describe what’s going on, what the fire is doing to improve or harm the landscape within which its burning, what you have to do in order to complete your assignment/task/etc.  Take the time to compose photographs and videos that show different sides of the same story to bring awareness to the nuances and complexities of wildland fire.  Showcase the human element – the camaraderie, the joys, the shared misery, the hardships, and the triumphs.  Telling your story is important and powerful — become a champion of the story of fire and you’ll have a far-reaching impact on how the public perceives what we do as wildland firefighters (and why it’s important).  Have a safe and creative fire season!

2019 Micro-grant donors include:

Private Sponsors:

Peter and Jane Carpenter
Bethany Hannah