A Chorus of Storytellers at the first Monson Memories Workshop
A lively and lovely time was had at our rainy May workshop for the Monson Memories project! A dozen locals or folks with ties to Monson not only bonded about their formative experiences within the area, they were able to create new understandings of their shared history. Whether it was the kindly local hermits they saw at Poole’s General Store, the way a known Auntie kept her puritan-like house tidied, or where they were when someone had tragically fallen into one of the quarries, this workshop taught them how many stories are just sitting on the tips of their tongues.
One of the most interesting aspects of the workshop is how each individual remembered an event or a “character” from the past differently. This highlighted perhaps the most valuable aspect of this entire project: Taken as a whole, this chorus of storytellers comes together with their independent viewpoints to recreate a “true” history. Through this method, we get a more accurate version of Monson’s past and a better understanding of how this place shaped people.
Teacher and folklorist Peggy Yocom was amazing at helping participants remember stories through a series of exercises including generating “Life Maps,” utilizing direct or reported speech (stories participants had heard from older relatives), storytelling with story prompts (picked from a hat!), and talking about how stories contribute to the health of families and communities, binding people to their forebears.
Perhaps the most rewarding experience was when Yocom had participants pair off to discuss their stories. Participants didn’t read what they’d written, they told them out loud, reveling in the oral storytelling tradition. Not only was it an opportunity for the “teller” to practice hearing what they wanted to share, it created a connection to their class partner, mimicking the communal experience that lay at the heart of the Monson Memories project. In addition, after the story was told, the listener got an opportunity to respond or give feedback from a list of question prompts including “what do you want to know more about” and “what does the story make you think of.” This feedback was an important step in letting the Storytellers understand what “moments” to strengthen in their stories.
The photos tell the rest of the story: Many laughs, a lot of smiling, genuine connections made, and, most importantly, our storytellers got a lot of work done, drawing from our teachers’ amazing leadership.
This FREE four-hour workshop is being offered one more time this summer on August 28th. Register to attend on the Community Programs page.
As of August 12th there are plenty of workshop spots available!
Contact our Educational Coordinator, James Pullen, with any questions: