Stories of Food, Food as Story

Stories of Food, Food as Story 2023 Workshop Series

A workshop series exploring how we share our stories through food traditions.

Window Seat launched a new community oral history and storytelling series in the winter of 2023 called Stories of Food, Food as Story. We welcomed ten community members into our cohort and three teaching artists who helped us design the series and led our creative nonfiction and visual journal workshops. Over the course of six weeks, we worked on short pieces of creative nonfiction and a group zine that were inspired by oral history interviews we did with family members, neighbors, and friends about a food tradition.

We shared a delicious meal prepared by local chefs as part of each session, were hosted in spaces that have special significance to our community’s collective story, and delighted in each others' stories. It was a nourishing way to spend these winter months!

For our group show, we invited our cohort and teaching artists to share their original artwork from the group zine and to record a reading of their short pieces of creative nonfiction. The stories were on display in the Window Seat Media office during spring Arts Walk 2023.

Thank You Collaborators!

2023 Cohort Members

Æ (Ash) Edmonds

Amber Huffstickler

Emma Rice

Hiroko Cassidy

Jocelyn Bonilla

Katie Rains

Maggie Post

Natalie Arenson

Paula Savok

Terry Vanderpham

Teaching Artists

Creative Nonfiction

Genevieve Canceko Chan

Folklore + Oral History

Elaine Vradenburgh

Meg Rosenberg

Visual Journal

Carrie Chema

Devon Damonte


ASHHO Cultural Community Center

The Liberation Collective

New Traditions


Chef Khurshida Begum


Terry Vanderpham

Special Guests

Anita de Boer, TUNaWERTH

Cristian Salazar, CIELO

Hiroko Cassidy, Brave Practice

Laurie O'Brien, Brave Practice

Peter de Boer, TUNaWERTH

Tim McLeod, Brave Practice

Wade Uyeda, GRuB


2023 Series Description

Workshop sessions guided participants through the process of:

  • Identifying a food tradition through which they can learn about their history or culture
  • Conducting oral history interviews to document the tradition
  • Using interview transcripts and memorabilia as source material to create a short piece of creative nonfiction, an audio story, or a visual journal
  • Reflecting and sharing stories through playback theatre

Whole Cohort Sessions

All participants took the following two sessions.

Stories of food, food as story

We tell stories through the food we grow, prepare, and preserve. Our foodways 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 & Meg Rosenberg, Window Seat Media

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. 

NOTE: Participants are encouraged to conduct their interviews within the two weeks following the session using a smartphone or similar device. Window Seat will provide support to participants who do not have access to such devices.

Led by Elaine Vradenburgh & Meg Rosenberg, Window Seat Media

Creative Branches - Breakout Sessions

Participants used oral history interviews and other source materials to create a final product of their choosing, and chose between one (or more) of the following sessions: visual journal, creative writing, or audio storytelling. 

Visual Journal

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 & Devon Damonte 

True Story: Venturing into creative nonfiction

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

Whole Cohort Sessions

Group reflection and celebration

Our final session was a potluck. Participants brought a food item to share that connects with their project, shared their creative products and reflected through playback theatre with Brave Practice.

Brave Practice Playback Theatre Collective Members: Meg Rosenberg, Hiroko Ishii Cassidy, Susana Bailén Acevedo, and Laurie Porter O'Brien

Instructor Bios

Genevieve Canceko Chan (she/her) 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.

 Carrie Chema 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, feminism and spirituality.

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 Devon Damonte 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.

 Elaine Vradenburgh (she/her) 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.

Meg Rosenberg (she/they) 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.

Brave Practice Playback Theatre Collective 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.