The CRCI Story Circle was a collective storytelling process that developed from my engagement with the inmates at the Columbia River Correctional Institution, Portland. The process involved everyone sharing stories from their childhood while others took note of the words they found interesting in the narratives. Later, all these words were written on a whiteboard. Thereafter, each participants sitting in the circle selected one word and spontaneously told a story or a scene. The next person then selected another word and continued the story. this process was repeated until we used all the words from the whiteboard.
The project aimed at using stories as a way to create temporary space for community building, sharing, and listening. It was intended to allow participants to use imagination, and spontaneity to structure their thought process. It also reflected on their ability to respond within the given constraint.
At midnight I set by the sea with two aunties caressing sea foam and peeled boiled eggs. They went due north and found a grave of mangoes. After consuming them, they happened upon a legendary old cinema that was haunted by Bigfoot. The cinema was a gilded property that they entered and were reminded instantly of the good old days. This sleeping property was lit by orange street lamps, transforming it into a solarium. Suddenly they looked over to where there was a lake that they hadn’t noticed and saw an elephant dog-paddling towards them. So they began to sing a lullaby to the elephant in an abandoned shack next to the lake. Afterward, they headed down to a cobblestone path. After walking for a few minutes, they found an antique bathtub, which was abandoned and they had no clue what it was doing there. And then they met a stranger walking toward them. Suddenly they realized they were in Queenstown– a farm town where my grandmother lives. She likes paddling her bicycle in search of floppy-eared lizards. “It’s getting late, my dear,” her father used to tell her. “Don’t make me pinch you. I don’t want you to be late for dinner. Mother’s laid out the porcelain plates.” Just then Bigfoot came bounding in and proclaimed something about patriarchy. It was a really magical place. But it being close to 5am, grandmother passed out. Upon seeing her passed out, Bigfoot passed out but the two aunties were not the sort to carry him. Thereafter they had breakfast and then the place was bombarded by the delicious smell of ham and garlic. Needless to say, this attracted a swarm of snakes and a group of officers. The officers came in their truck. They had been wandering in the landscape for a few days, very hungry and the smell attracted them and reminded her that she is getting married now.