The National Catholic Sisters Project is a dynamic, ever-evolving initiative, and Garrett Tiedemann is the creative genius behind the scenes helping coordinate everything under its scope. His role as media director is wide ranging: He serves as head of all media strategy, production and promotion for every strand of NCSP, with a special focus on National Catholic Sisters Week and its supplementary storytelling project SisterStory.
He brings a diverse background to NCSP – including notable achievements in film, music and media literacy – that has helped elevate the project into a rich global platform that demystifies women religious. His expertise has also sparked the creation of unprecedented content about women religious now available in the public domain. “The more we have done with video and podcasting,” he observed, “the more communities have been inspired to do their own, and I see a lot more content in the world now in comparison with when the project started.”
In particular, his work as senior producer of multiple acclaimed SisterStory podcasts has gained traction. Students describe his impact as profound, sometimes leading to dramatic changes in their career paths.
“Garrett has had a great influence on all of the members of the SisterStory production team,” said Rocky Pierson, who has been involved in multiple podcasts and works as station manager of St. Catherine University’s online radio station. “His commitment to creating meaningful content has helped drive our education in production and lead to the development of many projects that I’m proud to have been part of.”
We wanted to give you a chance to get to know this talented man -- a father of two -- via Q&A.
What inspires you?
Music, film. People who use their talents to give back to the world and try to better it with their efforts.
When are you most creative?
Usually in the morning to lunch time. After that the days seems to derail.
What is your ideal work environment?
Either in my backyard or in my home studio because I have all the tools I need to accomplish whatever comes up and that’s where I am most inspired.
How do you find the time to pursue so many interesting, demanding projects, including producing, writing, filmmaking and composing?
I was taught to find the time. My mom worked in social justice her whole life, and what I observed was that if you believe in something then you find the time to make it happen.
There's no magic to it, it's just a constant ebb and flow that juggles responsibilities of work with family and everything sort of runs on auto-pilot. Leonard Bernstein is credited as saying, "To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan and not quite enough time."
How has becoming a dad influenced your work?
It’s fragmented it. Before kids my process was elongated and far more enveloped by whatever I was working on. Now the process is more in my head constantly so that when I have five minutes, I can sit down and get something done quickly.
What has it been like watching this project evolve and expand into NCSP, as it stands today?
The ripple effects are interesting. The more we have done with video and podcasting the more communities have been inspired to do their own, and I see a lot more content in the world now in comparison with when the project started.
Can you speak briefly to how you’re helping connect the five complementary programs of NCSP?
I am helping drive the digital representation and voice so if something needs to go on one of our sites or needs to be produced/released (video, audio, blog, etc.) I am helping with how that happens.
You’ve been an incredible mentor for college students involved in the project, especially Rocky Pierson and Pa Ying Vang, whose terrific podcasts wouldn’t have happened without your guidance. How did it feel to open up those creative channels for them?
There’s no greater joy than seeing the tangible effect you have on an individual. I am extremely proud of Pa Ying and Rocky. They have grown into incredible adults, and I am thankful to have been able to offer them something that changed their lives for the better and given them more tools for their post-college endeavors.
What do you enjoy most about Curve Riders?
I like the accessibility to history it provides and how it contextualizes abstract ideas into something relatable and present.
What do you appreciate most about Be Inspired?
It’s a tangible representation of the mini-grant program’s success and how different communities have been inspired to celebrate Catholic Sisters.
What advice would you give someone who wants to do more storytelling in order to animate her organization or business?
Don’t assume it’s easy. Do your homework. Pursue what is sustainable by your organization or business. Not every method works everywhere.
What’s currently on your night stand?
Listen to This by Alex Ross, Dawn of the New Everything: Encounters with Reality and Virtual Reality by Jaron Lanier and Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds by Adrienne Maree Brown.