Neighbor Jamie Courville has always been interested in storytelling, particularly in the stories that don’t often get told. But working in commercial film often didn’t allow her to tell those stories, so she started looking for other ways to work in storytelling.
After a film collective creating short films based on the Magnetic Fields’ 69 Love Songs fizzled out, Jamie turned to audio, first recording a friend talk about their motorcycle accident.
“Something about voice really captivated me,” says Jamie. So she continued to explore audio storytelling, particularly first person stories.
A few years ago a friend of Jamie’s was diagnosed with cancer. She told Jamie that she didn’t want to go back to the ICU because it felt so lonely. Jamie thought that other people’s cancer stories might be comforting for her friend to listen to, so she started collecting.
“Nobody talks about disease and dying well,” explains Jamie. “People feel uncomfortable about it, they don’t know what to say and there becomes this huge disconnect.”
This collection of stories became Squirrels Stories. Jamie named the project Squirrels Stories because a linguist once said that “squirrels” was one of the hardest words in the English language to pronounce, and these were some of the hardest stories to tell.
Having collected a number of stories, Jamie decided it was time to share them with others. She is hosting a listening event at the Central Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library on Tuesday evening. She plans to play some of the audio portraits she’s created and followed by a discussion with some of the people featured in the stories.
“I just want other people to hear these stories,” says Jamie. “When you hear about other people’s experiences, your view opens up a bit.”
She knows that the stories are tough to listen to and is curious to see how the listening event goes, but “ultimately, it’s about connection.”
The Squirrels Stories listening event is at the Info Commons in the Central branch of the Brooklyn Public Library on Tuesday, July 21st at 7pm.