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It’s been about 5 months since I last wrote, and I’m sensing a distinct shift, in The Stories of Us program, if not the entire Department of Imaginary Affairs. I’ve struggled to name the shift itself, but I can name the symptoms. 

  • Organizations have been approaching us to bring The Stories of Us to them – either via workshops or exhibits – as a change from us approaching them. 
  • During our Teacher Design Lab in January, there was an instance when, in a moment of ambiguity, two of the teachers with whom we had piloted our six-workshop storywriting series stepped in and took ownership, guiding their fellow teachers through The Stories of Us curriculum. These teachers have gone above and beyond in their commitment to bringing The Stories of Us resources into their classrooms and are driving our upcoming Teacher Training in a big way. 
  • We currently have three facilitators who we’ve trained implementing The Stories of Us curriculum with newcomer adults or youth at three organizations in Ottawa, Markham, and Toronto. Reading the stories that these newcomers are sharing, having not spent the 12+ hours in-person with them as they write, is a bit surreal. I haven’t laughed with them, cried with them, and/or struggled to find the right words to express life’s ups and downs with them. Reading the reflections that these facilitators share as they are implementing the workshops with their participants helps bridge that gap and feel a sense of distant connection. 

I think it’s safe to say, The Stories of Us is growing up.

It is a reflection of all of the people who have shaped it and it is entirely unique. It is developing a personality, it has opinions of its own, and it is deeply curious. It wants to try new things, and it has managed to attract a community of people who want to go exploring with it. 

The Stories of Us is growing up, and having been one of its early guardians/ caretakers/ glorified babysitters, I find myself simultaneously feeling pride and grief. I am grieving the ways my relationship to it is changing and I’m proud of the ways in which it is coming into its own. 

April 2020 marks the start of the final year of our current funding for The Stories of Us, and as we enter this third and final-in-some-ways year, I find myself sitting with these questions:

  • How might we invite and enable others to contribute to and shape what The Stories of Us becomes?
  • What tools, resources, and training might need to accompany this invitation?
  • How does one know when to let go and what and how much to let go of?

Beyond the funded three-year project, The Stories of Us represents work that is needed in the world – processing one’s journey, feeling, seen, and acknowledged in sharing it, and healing ourselves on our own terms and with our own words.

How might we set it up to carry forward this work in integrity with the core values upon which it was conceived?

Unsurprisingly, I don’t yet have answers, but trust that asking the questions will prompt the necessary responses in due time.

Until next time,

Mathura

Mathura Mahendren

Mathura Mahendren

Mathura is a design researcher by nurture, and a storyteller by nature. She holds a Bachelor of Health Sciences from McMaster University, and Masters of Design in Strategic Foresight and Innovation from the OCAD University.

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