July 27, 2019: It was a beautiful day, low wind and perfect temperature. Questa Library volunteers gathered early to set up for Questa Library Community Day, an annual event, which included a fundraiser book sale, community trunk sale, booths and lunch.
Questa Stories was among the community organizations present. Questa Stories co-creator, Claire Coté and volunteer, Judy Rutledge staffed the table. The focus was the newly acquired StoryBox provided to Questa Stories and Questa Library, through the Manitos Community Memory Gathering Project. StoryBox provides a selection of tools to “[p]air up, share stories through questions, prompts, and hear life experiences of people within your community” (Quoted from https://www.onestorycloser.org/). This was the first day we used StoryBox, became familiar with its contents and introduced it to community members. We set up the story prompts, Instax mini camera, and story sheets for people to write down their stories. When people approached the table we gave them a brief overview of the Questa Stories project and an invitation to share a story or memory.
What we noticed: People enjoyed reading and choosing a story prompt and looking at the StoryBox supplies. They also enjoyed learning how to use the Instax mini camera to take pictures on the spot and attach them to their stories. Because the event was low key and fairly quiet, we were able to have thoughtful interactions with those who came to our table. A couple of people were willing to take the time to think of a story and write it down on one of the story sheets provided. Others took the story sheets away to write stories later. As an added collection effort, we gave self-addressed envelopes with some, though we have yet to receive any stories back in the mail.
Outcomes and Archive Links:
As well as writing out their story most people also told it to us, or shared it with a loved one or friend at the event. In one case, a mother and son came over to the table and exchanged stories about memorable family trips. These were not written on story sheets from StoryBox, but their interaction was clearly inspired by the kit’s prompts.
Here is a story written down that day by Monica Ortega:
The stories collected at the Library Community Day were used as examples at later events where StoryBox was shared, and they were scanned and uploaded to the NMDigitalHeritage.org website in this collection: http://nmdigitalheritage.org/s/manitos/item-set/305
Organizer Notes: We tried to set up StoryBox at other events with less success, they were either too busy or too loud: two days at Questa Farmers Market (good exposure for the Questa Stories project, story sheets distributed, but no stories collected); afternoon at NeoRio Outdoor Art Event (one story collected, sheets and envelopes distributed); evening at Dia de los Muertos Event in Questa (Mariachi Questa played at this year’s event, which drew people’s attention). We also brought StoryBox with us for a visit to the Questa Quilting meeting and the Women’s Tea, where we lightly used some components.
We have found StoryBox to be a novel and concrete collection of nicely packaged tools that provide a tangible experience of a primarily digital project. The story prompts and question cubes are useful and the instant camera is fun and engaging. We found ourselves also building on these tools and creating our own similar versions as well.
Featured Image: Questa Library Community Day setting, photo courtesy of Questa Stories.