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Stories of Food, Food as Story

January 28, 2023
Olympia & Tumwater

Stories of food, food as story is a 4-session project-based workshop to explore our history and cultural heritage through food traditions. Local teaching artists will guide participants through the process of:

  • Identifying a food tradition through which they can learn about their history or culture
  • Conducting an oral history interview(s) to document the tradition
  • Using interview transcripts and memorabilia as source material as inspiration to create a short piece of creative nonfiction and/or a visual journal

Sessions will include a meal that highlights a food tradition in our community. This workshop is for anyone interested in tools and a structured process to connect with their loved ones, their culture or their community, and explore their story through food. No previous experience is necessary to participate! Students may earn ILC credit. 

Limit to 15 participants. This is to create a small-group cohort model.


This series is funded in part by an American Historical Association Grant. We encourage those who are able to make a contribution to support our ability to make this accessible to all. 

Suggested donation: $5 to $500


SESSION 1: Saturday, January 28, 2023 

Session 1 provides all participants with a common framework and tools to use for their creative projects. 

Foodways: An Introduction


We tell stories through the food we grow, prepare, and preserve. Our foodways can express who we are and what matters most. In this session, we’ll consider our history and cultural heritage within the context of food traditions, identify what we most want to understand about our history from a particular food tradition and from whom, and draft a simple project plan. Led by Elaine Vradenburgh, Window Seat Media.

Catered lunch at 12:00pm

The art of the interview: tips, techniques, and tools to preserve our foodways


This session will focus on the art of the oral history interview. We’ll practice our listening skills, consider how to spark memories and make a meaningful connection, learn recording techniques and technology, and explore ethical considerations of recording other peoples’ stories. We will spend some time brainstorming who to interview and developing interview  questions. Led by Elaine Vradenburgh & Meg Rosenberg, Window Seat Media

Session 2: Saturday, February 11, 2023

Participants can choose to take one or both of the following. All participants are invited to stay for the catered lunch.

True Story: Venturing into creative nonfiction, Part 1


We all have stories we want to tell, about our lives, our families, things we have seen and things that happen in the world around us. How can we tell those stories compellingly? In this two-part workshop, we will focus on the form of short creative nonfiction to help us tell "true" stories that resonate with an audience. We will work on in-class exercises and prompts to help generate ideas. Through supportive and constructive workshop discussions, we will hone our ear in finding the "voice" of a story and explore different paths a story can take. By the end of the workshop, each participant will have a working manuscript of a short prose piece that may also be the germ of something bigger. Led by Genevieve Canceko Chan.

Catered lunch at 12:00pm

Visual Journal, Part 1


How do the materials we choose to keep, the ephemera gathered over the courses of our lives, help shape how we think about our experiences, relationships, and memories? In this two-part workshop, participants will create a visual journal that uses practices of art-making (collage, drawing, rubbing, writing, watercolor, alternative photographic processes, etc.) to reflect and expand on their personal and/or familial histories. We will create work together during making sessions and then participate in sharing and discussions of our artwork. The workshop will culminate in a collaborative zine booklet that will feature journaling work from each workshop participant. Led by Carrie Chema and Devon Demante  

Session 3: Saturday, February 25, 2023

Participants further refine their projects they started during session 2 in this session.

True Story: Venturing into creative nonfiction, Part 2


Catered lunch at 12:00pm

Visual Journal, Part 2


Session 4: Saturday, March 11, 2023

Group reflection and celebration


Our final session will be a potluck. Participants are encouraged to bring a food item to share that connects with their project. We will also share our creative products and reflect through playback theatre with Brave Practice. 

Meet the Teaching Artists!

Genevieve Canceko Chan (she/her)

Genevieve loves food, nature and storytelling. As a first generation Filipina American, she remembers her parents trying hard to assimilate homeland memories and traditions with American ways of life, especially at mealtime. This meant embutido (Filipino meatloaf) and garlic fried rice served alongside turkey and mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving. A writer by trade, she continues to be amazed by how sharing food/cooking meals can connect disparate people and how stories featuring food can reveal so much about a character's values and dreams. Professionally she has used her writing to be the primary storyteller for nonprofits, arts organizations, higher education institutions, and early education advocacy groups. She holds a B.A. in English and creative writing from Stanford University and an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Michigan.

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Carrie Chema (she/her)

Carrie is an artist and educator who recently relocated to Olympia, Washington after living primarily on the East Coast. She teaches photography at Evergreen State College and maintains an active art practice. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art from Georgetown University and a Master of Fine Arts in photography and digital media from the University of Miami. Her work spans media that includes photography, embroidery, weaving, painting, illustration, book-making and more and, is engaged with issues of environmental consciousness, gender and spirituality.

Devon Damonte (he/him)

Devon is an artist and educator whose practice includes printmaking, rubbings, direct animation filmmaking, book arts, paper crafts, handmade washi tapes, photography, and drawing. Damonte studied at San Francisco State University and The Evergreen State College, and is an active member of Olympia's Community Print. Devon's animation works have screened at PS1 Contemporary Arts Center in New York, the deCordova Museum in Lincoln, MA; the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Lisbon, Portugal; Views From the Avant Garde at New York Film Festival, and REDCAT at Disney Hall in Los Angeles. He currently teaches a summer experimental animation intensive at Evergreen, and has taught workshops, lectured and screened his work at venues including Harvard University, Ottawa International Animation Festival, the Rhode Island School of Design, and McMurdo Station, Antarctica.

Meg Rosenberg (she/they)

Meg is the Community Weaver at Window Seat. They are a queer non-binary womxn artist, educator, and community organizer. Meg’s passion is for people and the connections between us. They are deeply invested in the local South Sound community and building dialogue that sparks equitable social change. Meg gets to organize their dream youth-centered community storytelling program, Brave Practice, through Window Seat. They have also been a member of the Heartsparkle Players Playback Theatre Ensemble since 2017. Meg holds a BA in Theatre Arts from Kalamazoo College (Kalamazoo, MI), an MPA in organizational development and social change from The Evergreen State College (Olympia, WA), and studied theatre and interdisciplinary arts throughout middle and high school at Vancouver School of Arts and Academics (Vancouver, WA). Meg brings a background in education, organiztional development, equity work, and storytelling. They live in Olympia, WA (Land of the Nisqually, Coast Salish, Squaxin Island, Cowlitz, and Chehalis People) with their life partner, Chaney, and an adorable lesbian menagerie of pets.

Elaine Vradenburgh (she/her)

Elaine is the Memory Activist + Founder of Window Seat Media. She is an oral historian, multimedia storyteller and educator and the mother of two children. She feels most at home as an interviewer, editor, and curator, and loves facilitating learning communities. Elaine is fed by conversation, and craves time alone. Oral history offers her, an introvert by nature, an opportunity to connect with people and try to make sense of the complexity and contradictions of the human experience. It is an honor and a gift to have the opportunity to sit with others, to ask them questions about their lives, and then to share a bit of their truth and wisdom with others. She holds a B.A. in cultural and community studies from The Evergreen State College and a Masters from the University of Oregon in Interdisciplinary Studies: Folklore, Anthropology, and Journalism. Elaine also teaches in the MPA Program at Evergreen.

Brave Practice Playback Theatre Collective

Left to right: Meg Rosenberg, Hiroko Ishii Cassidy, Laurie Porter O’Brian, and Susana Bailén Acevedo.

Brave Practice is a collective of theatre artists in the South Sound who use Playback Theatre and other storytelling methods to foster connection and belonging in community. As a community engagement program of Window Seat, we aim to be a community resource for storytelling, community dialogue, civic engagement, and social change. Playback Theatre is an original form of interactive and improvisational theatre where people tell true stories from their lives and others enact them on the spot using music, dialogue, metaphor, and movement. Our mission is to use theatre as a way to practice bravery in community through deep listening and storytelling so that each individual is more prepared to be courageous in their everyday life.