WHEN HIS WIFE WAS PREGNANT, Garrett Tiedemann read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone to her nightly. Now that their daughter, Ella, is 2, the curly haired blonde and her dad are nearly finished with the fourth book in the series. Ella requests “Potter,” and they snuggle up for their 10-page bedtime ritual.
The power of storytelling has been a personal and professional anchor for Tiedemann, an Eagan, Minnesota, native who founded the multimedia lab CyNar Pictures. Whether he’s admiring Dr. Seuss’ rollicking tales or Bob Dylan’s poetic lyrics, Tiedemann pays close attention to the way a narrative unfolds. He studied cinema and media culture at the University of Minnesota and directed dozens of music videos under his American Residue Records label.
Since last November, he’s been the fulltime digital media strategist for the Hilton Catholic Sisters project housed at St. Catherine. The three-year initiative is intended to raise awareness of women religious through National Catholic Sisters Week, oral histories, turn-key curricula and sisterstory.org, a dynamic website that Tiedemann maintains.
Though he didn’t have a traditional religious upbringing, Tiedemann admires Catholic sisters’ commitment to higher principles — passion over profit, journey over destination. Their lives have inspired him to reflect on his own impact.
“Your life can be important, not in some grand scheme,” he says, “but to one individual.”
Sharing photos of habited nuns on the website’s popular “Sisters of Influence” tab has been fun for Tiedemann, a young dad with an old soul and a prized 1920s wind-up record player. He is a self-taught accordion player, a head scratcher and a deep thinker who took two weeks to choose a ringtone for his iPhone (an excerpt from Thomas Newman’s American Beauty film soundtrack).
He bops around Coeur de Catherine with his Sony headphones and closely cropped beard, gripping a dark coffee mug and lost in his thoughts — why the Hunger Games sequel is better than the first movie, what makes Stephen Tobolowsky’s podcasts so entertaining. It’s all about the story.
“You take bare-bones facts and make a story out of them,” Tiedemann says. “That’s what Homer did with The Odyssey and The Illiad. You get something that transcends location and speaks to experience.”