Folklife Center banks on stories

Posted May 20, 2009, at 7:54 p.m.
Last modified March 20, 2011, at 6:38 a.m.

ORONO, Maine — First-person accounts of the lives of a coastal crab-picker, a logger, a Northern Maine bateau builder and newly arrived Hispanics in the Bangor area are a few of the colorful vignettes created when Maine residents are interviewed for Story Bank, an ongoing project by the Maine Folklife Center at the University of Maine and Cultural Resources Inc. of Rockport.

Hoping to help community groups add to the collection of first-person stories by learning to preserve cultural traditions in Maine before they vanish, the two nonprofits will co-sponsor a workshop to train others on perfecting methods of collecting, documenting and presenting local vignettes about past and present vocations that help define Maine.

A team of documentary specialists and folklorists will lead the second Story Bank Institute workshop, Tuesday through Friday, July 7-10, at the University of Maine. Participants will learn fieldwork techniques, audio and video recording, digital photography, archiving and developing public presentations.

The four-day institute will be held in the Bumps Room of the Memorial Union and Room 113 of the D.P Corbett Business Building.

Stories resulting from the workshop will be archived at the Folklife Center and possibly included at the Narrative Stage at this year’s American Folk Festival in Bangor in August.

Funded in part by a grant from the Maine Arts Commission, Story Bank Institute scholarships are available for a limited number for participants. Workshop fees otherwise will be $20 per day or $75 for all four days.

Local stories include personal experiences and local folklore, which can contribute to identifying a sense of place for people, according to Pauleena MacDougall, director of the Folklife Center. The term sense of place means many things to many people and usually involves what is considered a person’s place in a culture, community or some other environment, MacDougall said.

“All these little vignettes of Maine life are precious because they change over time,” she said. “We really want to try to get stories from everywhere in the state. We want people to talk about what it means to be from Maine.”

The workshop schedule is:

• Workshop I, 9 a.m.-noon Tuesday, July 7, Bumps Room, Identifying Themes/People, Jo Radner, Maine folklorist, and Peggy Yocom, folklorist at George Mason University and the Rangeley Lakes Logging Museum; workshop II, 1-4 p.m., Interviewing and Fieldwork, with Radner and Yocom, room 113, Donald P. Corbett Building, followed by a reception with storytelling presentations, 4:30-5:30 p.m., Donald P. Corbett Building atrium.

• Workshop III, 9 a.m.-noon, Wednesday, July 8, room 113, Donald P. Corbett Building. Archival Processing, MacDougall and Pamela Dean, Folklife Center archivist; workshop IV, 1-4 p.m., room 113, Donald P. Corbett Building, Audio Interviewing, Rob Rosenthal of the SALT Institute in Portland.

• Workshop V, 9 a.m.-noon Thursday, July 9, room 113, Donald P. Corbett Building, Fundamentals of Digital Photography, photographer and senior lecturer Bill Kuykendall of the University of Maine new media department; workshop VI, 1-4 p.m., room 113, Donald P. Corbett Building, Fundamentals of Digital Videography, with Jim Sharkey, a Brunswick school teacher and videographer.

• Workshop VII, 9 a.m.-12 p.m. Friday, July 10, room 113, Donald P. Corbett Building, Creating Public Programs, Kathleen Mundell, folklorist with Cultural Resources; workshop VIII, 1-4 p.m., room 113, Donald P. Corbett Building Project Planning and Grant Writing, MacDougall, followed by informal conversations, a wrap-up and evaluation.

To register or to obtain more information, call MacDougall, Maine Folklife Center, at 581-1848.

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