Before founding Digital Legacy Productions—a company that uses digital storytelling to capture the unique stories of older adults on film in a way that showcases their insights, histories, family traditions, and memories—Jocelyn Vieth completed SFU Gerontology’s Post Baccalaureate Diploma program in 2012.
Vieth came to the program to further her knowledge of the aging population having worked part-time in a retirement residence while she was completing her undergraduate degree in Sociology and Communications at Wilfrid Laurier University. She says Gerontology’s unique program allowed her to engage in graduate level research and reading while “nurturing her passion for the aging journeys of older adults.”
She recalls that particular courses with faculty members like Dr. Barbara Mitchell or adjunct instructor Dan Levitt (Executive Director at Tabor Village Assisted Living Community) challenged her to think through both the theory and practice of gerontological research; Vieth delved into such topics as the complicated intergenerational dynamics of family and aging, how aging and environmental design are applied to business models, or how students can “think outside the box” and apply entrepreneurial skills to the field in order to meet the needs of the aging population. “The program encouraged me to seek out methods to improve and enhance the social aspects of growing older,” she says, “and I found my niche in focusing on the emotional side of aging, a place in which I could make older adults feel celebrated.”
Vieth attributes the idea of founding Digital Legacy Productions to both the training she received in Gerontology and to strong relationships with her grandparents: “I’m close to my Oma and Opa (both sets of grandparents, actually) and moving away from them to study in Vancouver was difficult. Many people these days find themselves in a dynamic where they’re not geographically close to their elders and while we’re aided by technology and we can connect that way, we’re also very aware that they’re not going to live forever. I found myself searching for ways to cherish these connections.”
The idea for her company crystalized, Vieth recalls, while observing her grandparents interact and tell stories in their kitchen during a visit back home. “I was sitting in my Oma and Opa's kitchen as they prepared dinner, observing the exchange of subtle interactions and listening to their well-versed anecdotes.” Vieth says witnessing these moments made her want to record them, preserving the memory so that she could watch it whenever she missed them. This personal drive to capture the lives of her grandparents on film forms the basis of Vieth’s vision for her company: “to provide a personalized platform for older individuals to encapsulate their memories on film.”
In addition to producing videos for those who want to preserve memories of loved ones on film, Vieth has also captured the stories and memories of older adults for such community projects as The Veterans Project, the City of Vancouver and Trout Lake Community Center’s Big Band Dance for 55+, and legacy videos in The Aging Dialogues: Sharing Wisdom, Preserving Our Legacies. She is also working on a community project to capture the story of ASK Friendship Centre in Vancouver.
-Written by the Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences
Published in November 2016