Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Christchurch community stories told through mapping app

Community storytelling project, Our Stories, has partnered with the Christchurch City Council’s SmartView mapping app to bring local stories to life.

Our Stories is a community storytelling project that connects communities through storytelling. School children interview people who grew up in their community, with the stories recorded and then edited and mapped to locations.

The Our Stories app was launched in 2018 with a collection of Lyttelton-based stories.

Project director, Kris Herbert says the collaboration with SmartView is helping to expand the reach of the project.

SmartView is a great resource. It maps everything from drinking fountains to fruit trees. This partnership allows the app to now also deliver a layer of stories. As Our Stories Project expands, we hope to fill the whole city with beautiful memories of places,” Ms Herbert says.

SmartView was developed by Christchurch City Council’s Smart Christchurch programme, which looks at how technology can be used to make people’s lives easier and better. The web-based app pulls together real-time data from a range of public and private organisations to provide users with a wealth of information about what is happening around the city.

“Real-time data is a good story teller and people can learn a lot about Christchurch through using SmartView,’’ says Smart Christchurch Manager, Michael Healy.

“But data can’t capture people’s memories and experiences in the same way that a recorded interview with a local resident can.  We’re delighted to be involved in a project that is focusing on sharing local people’s stories in an easy, accessible way,’’ Mr Healy says.

The Lyttelton collection of stories includes memories of times when kids would swim in the drydock and roam the port. There are memories of the day the tank blew up and of gathering crabs at Rāpaki.  A favourite amongst the kids is the story of the Goat Man, who was said to haunt the cemetery. 

“Many of these stories had been lost from the common knowledge of the community,” Ms Herbert says. “They are not recorded anywhere else. Every community has stories to tell and working with schools to collect them delivers benefits for everyone.”

Our Stories Project is currently seeking funding to expand into more communities.

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