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Pacific-Wide Storytelling Initiative Launched

July 11, 2016, 11:00 AM HST (Updated July 10, 2016, 8:25 AM) · 1 Comment
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Pacific Resources for Education and Learning has launched the Pacific Storytellers Cooperative, an Internet platform for place-based stories from all Pacific Islands to be shared with a global audience.

The multimedia effort embraces the Pacific storytelling heritage and brings it into the internet age. The goal is to encourage the next generation to take up the mantle of storytelling.

Pacific Storytellers Cooperative - Photo by Dan Lin Photography

Pacific Storytellers Cooperative – Photo by Dan Lin Photography

“This project seeks to find the nexus between oral traditions of our island communities and present-day modalities of communication, especially among youth of the Pacific,” said project Founder and Director Dan Lin, a senior research and policy specialist at PREL. “Storytelling is a very embedded part of Pacific culture and indigenous cultures generally. We want to encourage the younger generations to take up the mantle of telling stories and to take advantage of greater levels of connectivity and improved technical capacity—which exists even in remote places.”

Indigenous Pacific Islanders and residents are asked to submit any form of storytelling, including written stories, photos, videos, and poetry to Pacific Storytellers. A group of volunteers from across the region will serve as content curators and submissions will be edited for clarity and length.

“As long as someone is willing to tell a story, we’re willing to help them be heard,” Lin stated.

The project began when Lin, who is a regular contributor to National Geographic and the Associated Press, as well as a crew member on Hokulea’s Worldwide Voyage, saw a need for an accessible and inclusive digital storytelling platform.

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“Within the Pacific, indigenous communities are too used to someone else telling stories on their behalf,” he observed. “It’s time to reclaim the role of tellers of our own stories, which is critical for bridging the gaps between generations.”

Renowned Marshallese poet, activist, and Pacific Storytellers Cooperative collaborator Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner agreed with the cooperative’s importance in an email statement.

“This project sees the value in the art form, as well as in other mediums such as using film and social media, and I’m excited that we’ve been able to reach youth in the Marshall Islands, Guam and Saipan so far. I’m really looking forward to getting this project to other parts of the Pacific as well,” she said.

The Pacific Storytellers Cooperative is currently supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation to PREL. The Cooperative anticipates seeking additional funding sources within the coming year.

The project website is available at here.

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