People are made of stories. Places are full of them. Every single story is worth celebrating. The stories of our lives run through our identity like a red thread. We can see where we have been, and where we are going, through acknowledging and celebrating those threads and stories.
“The universe was made of stories not atoms” – Muriel Rukeyser
Hello, I am Cara. I am a Storyteller. Tell me a story so I may know you better and I will tell you mine. People are strangers until we say hello and hear a tale about them. When I was offered the chance to become Storyteller in Residence with Safe Harbour: Open Sea in Fittie I was honoured. Mixed with that was an acknowledgement that to do justice to the many layered stories of Fittie, and its residents, through time would not be an easy undertaking.
So what is a Storyteller in Residence?
First perhaps we should look at the importance of stories in community. Storytelling brings people together, it always has and always will. It could be argued that we are a narrative species. The way that we make sense of the world around us is to tell stories or imagine narratives around certain situations. Stories are the way people have learned, remembered, and communicated ever since we developed language, if not before. They help us to make sense of an uncertain world. In the past, or at least in an idealised version of the past, people would meet while undertaking community jobs and tell stories. Whether that was in the washhouse or on a fishing boat, as part of the RNLI, or in church. The sharing of folktales or gossip, led to a shared understanding of place and gave a sense of community cohesion. A storyteller coming into a community can help shine a light on some of these shared experiences and help illuminate the threads that bind us. In ancient times their role was a mix of historian, social commentator, and entertainer. Indeed it still is!
I have only been in post a couple of months and since then many significant national events have occurred. Queen Elizabeth II died, on the day I began my role. We are on to our third Prime Minister this year. Debates around climate change and the transition to net zero have been pushed around depending on the political and public mood. Putin’s war in Ukraine has caused untold suffering to millions and impacted on the cost of living and access to affordable food and fuel. All of these trickle down and have an impact on us all. Decisions closer to home such as the Beachfront development proposals cause anguish and frustration if our voices, our stories, are not heard. As Storyteller in Residence I aim to record these overarching events, alongside the personal stories of Fittie and its community. Building on the amazing work already undertaken by Victoria Fifield and the community development team in collecting stories, I hope to be able take a long view. Discerning the multi-layered narrative strands and weaving them together in a story to celebrate Fittie and its remarkable community.
“We tell ourselves in stories in order to live” Joan Didion
Cara Roberts One Nature Education
Image Credit: shutterstock 1043896330