Community Stories

Wild Blue Yonder

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The Montford Point Marines of San Diego

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What’s your story, California?

As one of the most culturally diverse states in the nation, California’s fascinating history is woven from millions of personal narratives by the people who call this extraordinary place “home.” Community Stories (formerly the California Story Fund) is pleased to share some of these stories, in hopes that they may help us all find common ground, appreciate our differences, and learn to live well together.

Click HERE to see a list of past and present Community Stories projects.

Through 2014, as part of our War Comes Home initiative, Community Stories is focusing on veteran-related storytelling projects:

California War Letters Preservation Project
Chapman University, Orange
Project Director: John Benitz
Wartime letters provide a unique window into the hearts and minds of our warriors, their families, and communities. Focusing on California veterans, playwright John Benitz and historian Andrew Carroll are partnering with veteran organizations to collect, archive, and share letters online in text and audio formats, along with scholar-developed background materials. Related performance pieces share collected stories and encourage new community contributions. $10,000

Common Threads: The Veteran Experience in Central California
White Ash Broadcasting/Valley Public Radio, Fresno
Project Director: Joe Moore
This five-part radio documentary series promotes greater understanding by exploring the experiences of a multigenerational, multicultural group of Valley veterans. Multimedia content and two live on-air forums supplement the broadcasts and archives on the station’s website. Produced by Valley Public Radio in collaboration with the Central California War Veterans Oral History Project at CSU Fresno. $10,000

The EchoTheaterSuitcase Project
CounterPULSE, San Francisco
Project Director: Krista DeNio
This project provides opportunities for veterans and civilian communities to reflect on stories of war and its aftermath, through the use of interactive theater installations that help break through the cultural silence and bring diverse groups together for dialogue. Performances start in San Francisco and Davis (through fall 2015), and then expand into other parts of California. Recorded performances, stories from project participants, and community responses available online. $10,000

Echoes of War
Playhouse Arts, Arcata
Project Director: Jacqueline Dandeneau
Using a “storybus” (mobile recording studio) and other imaginative strategies, project staff work with local veteran, Native, and community organizations to collect and archive stories from Northcoast residents about the impact of war on their lives. Stories will be woven into a dramatic piece, with performances and discussions edited for broadcast on a local public radio station on Veterans Day 2015. $10,000

Healing the Wounds of War Through Community—A History of the Vietnam War Generation
Vietnam Veterans of California, Santa Rosa
Project Director: Peter Cameron
Documenting the compelling story of Vietnam veterans who created grassroots self-help social service organizations and “communities of care” to address the needs of returning servicemembers, this project shares the oral histories of a group of Northern California veterans who were instrumental in this national movement. Videotaped interviews and contextual materials can be accessed online and through public and campus-based programming. $10,000

Memories & Meaning: Fresno’s Veterans Day Parade
Fresno County Public Library, Fresno
Project Director: Nance Espinosa
Exploring the meaning and significance of the largest Veterans Day parade west of the Mississippi, this project gathers and records stories from 20 Fresno veterans of different eras, ethnicities, and backgrounds. The interactive website features video interviews, digital stories, texts and transcripts, background materials, and a platform for story-sharing and dialogue. $10,000

The Montford Point Marines of San Diego
San Diego Unified School District, San Diego
Project Director: Elneda Shannon
Through a school-community partnership organized by Project Ujima, students and their families will work with project staff and advisors to share stories from the first group of African-Americans to serve in the USMC. Digital storytelling and performances at schools, libraries, and other community settings will encourage greater awareness and understanding of the challenges and achievements of these California veterans. $9,986.35

Wild Blue Yonder
Riverside Art Museum, Riverside
Project Director: Drew Oberjuerge
The museum’s interactive multimedia exhibit raises community awareness by featuring the faces and voices of area veterans, drawing on interviews by author Susan Straight and photography by Douglass McCulloh. Supported by public programming activities and enhanced with additional online resources, the exhibit illuminates the life experiences of veterans, as well as the social and economic development of the region and state. $10,000

Planet Ord
University Corporation, CSU Monterey Bay, Seaside
Project Director: Enid Baxter Blader
Stories about Fort Ord, the largest decommissioned military base in the western United States, will be highlighted in this interactive exhibit at the Santa Cruz Museum of History and Art. Drawing on oral histories from more than 250 veteran and community narratives, the exhibit shares a rich but largely unknown history through audio and video recordings, visual art, maps, photographs, objects, archival material, and content contributed by visitors. Public programs and a website extend the project’s reach. $10,000

War Ink
Contra Costa County Library Jurisdiction, Pleasant Hill
Project Director: Chris Brown
Featuring images and stories from local veterans, this virtual interpretive exhibit of tattoo art offers veterans a means to reflect on their identity and experience and non-veterans a window into this culture. Supplemented with contextual material and resources to support veteran reintegration, this artistic exhibit will be launched on Veterans Day 2014. $10,000

Since 2003, California Humanities has supported approximately 400 story projects that have enabled communities to voice, record, and share histories—many previously untold or little known—through video, photography, murals, zines, documentary theater, audio projects, and more.

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