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Philip B. Stafford
Center on Aging and Community

Last modified: Thursday, May 8, 2008

Indiana University, Bloomington community to take part in International Day for Sharing Life Stories

May 8, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Residents of the Bloomington area will have multiple opportunities to share and savor stories next week in connection with the International Day for Sharing Life Stories, a worldwide celebration scheduled for May 16.

Local activities include weeklong exhibits and displays on themes related to community, memory and story circles, roundtables and exercises designed to facilitate the sharing of memories and the telling of stories.

Philip Stafford

Philip Stafford

"We want to gather stories and involve people in the experience of sharing stories," said Philip B. Stafford, director of the Center on Aging and Community, which is convening the Bloomington activities. The center is part of the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community, a research, education and service center affiliated with Indiana University Bloomington.

The International Day of Sharing Life Stories is a project of the Museum of the Person, which operates in Brazil, Portugal, the United States and Canada, and the California-based Center for Digital Storytelling. Organizers see the sharing of life stories as a critical part of the democratic process and a way to promote projects that make a difference in neighborhoods, communities and societies.

May 16 marks the 96th birthday of the celebrated American storyteller and interviewer Studs Terkel and the retirement party of British oral historian Paul Thompson. Approximately 100 organizations in 20 countries have endorsed the International Day of Sharing Life Stories and are planning activities around the celebration.

In Bloomington, exhibits from oral history projects will be displayed at locations across the community. Several activities will be coordinated with the Senior Expo, which will take place 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Bloomington/Monroe County Convention Center, 302 S. College Ave. Students in IU's Masters in Immervise Mediated Environments (MIME) new media program are helping with digital story sharing.

Exhibits related to the International Day for Sharing Life Stories include:

  • La Cara Latina de Bloomington: Celebration of Latino culture in Bloomington through photographs and printed word; May 12-16 at La Casa, 715 E. Seventh St.
  • Picturing My World: Photographs of subjects of personal significance to people with disabilities; May 16, Senior Expo.
  • Memory of the Square: Photos, posters and memorabilia to evoke the evolution of the town square in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Monroe County Courthouse; May 16, Senior Expo.
  • Memory of Third Street Park: Photos and posters from a 2003 ethnographic study by high-school and middle-school students of Bloomington's Third Street Park; May 16, Senior Expo.
  • Banneker Center History Project: Photos and exhibits from a 2006 oral history by Bloomington High School North students on Bloomington's one-time "colored school;" May 16, Senior Expo.
  • VETS: Voicing Experiences in Service: Photos, posters and other student work from an Indiana Institute on Disability and Community project in which students from Indiana, Maryland and Vermont collect and share stories from veterans; May 16, Senior Expo.
  • Thoughts, Things, and Theories … What is Culture?" Exhibit on themes of universal needs and life stages, including replicas of a 1967 Bloomington ranch house and a multi-generational family compound from Nigeria; on display throughout the week at Mathers Museum of World Cultures, 416 N. Indiana Ave.
  • Botanica: A Pharmacy for the Soul: Curator Selina Morales re-creates a botanica, a store selling Afro-Caribbean religious items, much like one owned by her grandmother from 1985-91; on display throughout the week at Mathers Museum of World Cultures, 416 N. Indiana Ave.

Storytelling activities will include:

  • Story circles and six-word memoirs: Participants will join roundtables for memory games using prompts, photos and artifacts; May 16, Senior Expo.
  • Cold War memories: Video production students from Batchelor Middle School in Bloomington will record memories; May 16, Senior Expo.
  • Memories of Monroe County Childhood: Growing up in the '40s; 1 p.m. on May 17, Monroe County History Center, 202 E. Sixth St.
  • Global telephone call: International students are invited to call home and collect stories to share; May 16.
  • The Crestmont story: Residents will take part in a neighborhood mapmaking and design workshop with Bloomington artist Joe LaMantia; May 17.
  • Meadowood Health Pavilion Story Booth: Videographer MaryEllen May will record stories and memories for production of a DVD to celebrate the lives of storytellers; May 12.

For more information about worldwide activities related to International Day for Sharing Life Stories, see For information about local events, contact Philip B. Stafford at 812-855-2163 or