Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Using location to mark a story

My husband, J, is currently reading on storytelling as he works on his Industrial Design thesis. The other day, he told me of an essay on Apache storytelling.

There's a certain type of Apache story that deals with morality lessons. Each of these stories starts and ends with a place name - so envision the story opening and closing with "This happened at White Pine Ridge". The places in the stories are from nearby, ones that the audience - and the intended recipient of the lesson - know well.

By marking the story with a place, it is locked in memory. The story and the place become intertwined, so that whenever someone goes by the place, the story comes to mind.

I had not thought of this when first developing my story idea, at least not consciously, but tagging the stories to the neighborhoods they come from will do more than help people to understand they have common threads across different parts of the city. It will provide an identity for that place, a tie to it. People could get more vested in community efforts that cross neighborhood lines, and then perhaps more stories will be shared and more bonds formed, all categorized by a place.

When my brothers and I were younger, we moved several times. Since then, we've often used the house we were in as a reference point for placing a story in time. J and I also do that with our past apartments. Place as a means to mark story then isn't hugely new, but formalizing it might be, and using it to help people in the community connect could be a whole new adventure.

***Don't forget to VOTE for Neighborhood Stories in the Stories for GOOD contest so that I can bring these connections to Rochester!***

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