Maps, Stories, Hijinks

Before heading to Cambodia in a week or so I wanted to share a work in progress.

Last year I started collaborating with Elise Pepple, a clever partner in hijinks, on a series of live storytelling events. Then Elise started talking about maps (which I love) and not just telling stories, but as she says, “making them.” When I try talk about making vs. telling sometimes it comes across as a tad too abstract and obscure, but read on.

Ellen and Elise

Ellen and Elise (photo by James Poulson)

The Other AK is an experiment in narrative tourism. It is a place-based audio map that aims to highlight local culture of Alaska. A lot of times maps show historical landmarks. Our mapping project includes stories that are universal and local. They might be from a newcomer or an old timer. The stories could be about taking a risk, going through a transformation, falling in love, experiencing racism, or struggling through a hard time.

Here is the map a local artist, Erin Matthes created for us. It is a series of paintings.



This is one of stories, from Peter from our live storytelling event, “In Sitka.”

peter0408 s

Cathy, shared a story of what it’s like to be a black woman in a mostly white, partially Alaska Native small town, and get her hair done

One of the things we did as part of thinking about the community was to consider not only what is here, but what isn’t. I collected wishes from locals for things they wished they could do here in Sitka, AK

Then Elise vicariously fulfilled some of the wishes. She visited a gallery in Maine, complete with a burning pineapple, drank espresso in a cafe and attempted to go maple sugaring. She brought back Dunkin Donuts coffee to Sitka and offered it to the community.

The next step in making wishes come true: throwing a surprise techno dance in Sitka.

130417 Other AK Techno KCAW S

We used social media and a visit to KCAW, Raven Radio to announce the party. Then the station played three songs and we had a quick dance.

130417 Other AK techno elise S

Tecnho Dance Party at Old Harbor Books (Photo by Melissa Danville)

Tecnho Dance Party
at Old Harbor Books
(Photo by Melissa Danville)

We’re going to create a website that combines stories with the map.

The project is made possible in part, so far, by a grant from the Alaska State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts to artchange, inc and by local support ranging from the tip jar at the local soda fountain to donations from the Rotary, the Grind and the Greater Sitka Arts Council.

Our experiment in Sitka is a pilot. We want to take this project, map, stories and hijinks to other communities.

~ by coldwetnormal on May 3, 2013.

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