We hope you are all staying healthy inside your homes during this unprecedented time. The Kentucky Folklife Program, in partnership with WKU Folk Studies Program and the Kentucky Oral History Commission, is launching Connecting Across the Commonwealth in the Time of the Coronavirus, a project to engage with and document the experiences of Kentuckians as we are locked-down during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The centerpiece of this project is “virtual story circles” that provide a space for communities to connect and share their experiences when so many are isolated from one other. As folklorists, we want to document this time, but more importantly, we want to create a space for Kentuckians to connect with one another during this time of uncertainty.
What is a story circle? The KFP has begun this process by inviting 6 to 8 people to a facilitated space over ZOOM. Everyone involved is given a prompt and given the opportunity to speak briefly on that prompt. This ensures that every participant has an equitable chance to share their experiences. Afterward, everyone is given the chance to reflect on the intimate thoughts shared by others.
We hope that those who join story circles feel encouraged to host story circles of their own to create an ever-expanding web of Kentuckians sharing and collecting diverse stories in these spaces. Additionally, we hope that these story circles may lead the KFP staff to some one-on-one interviews that allow Kentuckians to document their experiences to the fullest.
We began by piloting this project with a group of WKU Folk Studies Alumni and will be growing it in the weeks to come through various community networks we have around the state. Currently, we are hosting these circles through our networks around the Commonwealth. Please keep an eye out, as we hope to bring these sharing sessions to as many diverse communities as we can. If you are interested in participating, you can email KFP Folklife Specialist Joel Chapman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can see a screenshot of our first story circle, held last week, below.