Homeless writers and artists create storyscapes art installations downtown

Posted on September 16, 2013

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Redacted from the Interactive Resource Center

The stories of homeless and at risk individuals are often silenced or not heard. Using their experiences of downtown to “re-map” Greensboro, IRC guests are taking their stories to the street.

storyscapes is a self-guided walking tour of place-based art and writings created by IRC community members. The stories will be installed at the locations where they occurred and the storyscapes map allows people to tour the installations. Maps will be available at the Interactive Resource Center, participating downtown businesses, and at http://gsodaycenter.org/.

“We’re not supposed to stay in our stories,” explains storyscapes writer Donna Harrelson, “stories are meant to reach others.” The project does exactly that. In addition to the personal aspects of this project, Dr. Emily Janke, Director of the Institute for Community and Economic Engagement at UNC-Greensboro, emphasizes the value of this project at a community level. “Exchanging ideas and sharing experiences are essential components of building vibrant and just communities.” She describes storyscapes as an “inspiring example” of how to “preserve, generate, and disseminate unique knowledge, and in this case, significant lived experiences of those whose voices are too often unheard.”

Kathleen Edwards, a PhD student in UNCG’s department of Educational Leadership and Cultural Foundations, collaborated with IRC guests on the storyscapes project and has been working with the IRC for more than three and a half years. Committed to community-engaged work in her research, teaching, and service, Edwards’ dissertation will incorporate community-engaged participatory research with IRC community members in the form of a second layer to this initial storyscapes project.

“The storyscapes project has been amazing to be a part of,” Edwards says, “while we’ve had a core group of committed writers and artists from the start, we’ve also been able to open up elements of the project to all of the guests at the IRC. For example, we had a mapping project in the dayroom where guests identified the downtown Greensboro locations that were meaningful to them. We also had a found art project day to decorate the acrylic holders that will hold the storyscapes maps and guests, staff, and volunteers moved in and out of that project through out the morning, some people creating an entire holder, and others adding a few trinkets here and there.”

storyscapes installations go up throughout downtown on September 20th, at 6:00pm. storyscapes locations include the Central Library, the Depot, the Interactive Resource Center, and locations along Elm Street.

Greensboro community members funded storyscapes during the Elsewhere Art Collaborative’s Partners in City, Neighbors in Community (PICNIC) event this past May. The Interactive Resource Center is a multi-service day center in downtown Greensboro assisting those who are experiencing homelessness. The IRC is located at 407 E. Washington Street, Greensboro, NC 27401.

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