The Third Thirty: A Community Storytelling Project

March 12, 2019
 The Third Thirty: A Community Storytelling Project

Do you love listening to people’s stories?  Are there individuals in our South Sound community (or beyond) who have great stories to share?  Join us as we continue to gather stories from community members between ages 60 and 90 as part of  "The Third Thirty:  A Community Storytelling Project."  

We will read, watch, and listen to wonderful stories, build our listening and interview skills, and gain the tools needed to interview/edit an oral history to share (with permission) at a public event at the end of the course.  You’ll have reading/viewing homework, and you’ll need access to a computer and a recording device (such as a Smartphone or tablet). Editing and technology help available!

This project is a partnership between Window Seat Media and Senior Services of South Puget Sound and is offer through Senior Services Lifelong Learning Program.


The Details

When: Thursdays, 11:30-1:30, April 11 - May 30
Where: Olympia Senior Center
How Much: $98 general public/$92 Senior Center members
To Register: Call 360.586.6181 or stop by the Olympia or Lacey Senior Center
​Instructor: Elaine Vradenburgh, Curator, Window Seat Media

Why this project?

The peer-to-peer nature of the project offers seniors in our community with an opportunity to explore and validate shared experience while gaining insights into the ways in which their particular histories and identities shape their outlook and circumstances during this time of life. Our first collection included stories from community members from different racial, ethnic, socio-economic, and religious backgrounds, as well as regional differences – from Olympia, to Algeria, to Detroit, to the segregated South, to Eastern Oregon.

As one course participant reflected, “People are interesting and different and the same.” The project amplifies the ways in which race, gender, religion and other forms of identity shape our lived experience. By focusing on a broad theme and carefully curating a public gathering to share the stories, we were able to explore and honor the complexity of experience with safety and respect – for our oral historians, their narrators, and the public who came to listen to the stories.

The Third Thirty also offers people leaving the workforce with an opportunity to sharpen and deepen transferrable skills while honoring people they admire in their community. One participant described her experience as “an exploration of a different kind of listening and a different type of interview. Through the specific class assignment and Elaine's expert coaching, I was able to produce a compelling narrative from an interview with someone I admire deeply." Moving forward, we are creating a more flexible curriculum to be more inclusive of people with different abilities, skills, and interests. The addition of teaching assistants – for classroom instruction and editing and technical help – will also help make the class more accessible.

The project is the first to document the lived experience of people in this age group who are living in the South Puget Sound region. We are not only building a collection of stories that people can access online to understand the unique challenges and gifts of this generation, but also a community of practice that is grounded in deep listening, asking transformative questions, and honoring the knowledge that comes from our lived experience. Through the process of both gathering and sharing stories of their peers, seniors have the opportunity to deepen their connection to each other and honor the life and work of their peers.