Subscribe for 33¢ / day
Julian Hotel 02

Residents of the Hotel Julian, 150 SW Monroe Ave. in Corvallis, took part in a digital storytelling project. The results will be shown in a free screening, "Stories from the Hotel Julian," on Wednesday at the Darkside Cinema. 

The Resilience Project is giving community members who may not have other outlets the opportunity to share their experiences through short films they've created.

"The easiest way to describe it is digital storytelling, which I call folk art for the 21st century," says creative director Kriste York.

The group, which was recently started by York and Andrea Myhre, holds workshops that show participants how to write and produce these digital stories for themselves.

The Resilience Project collaborated with Willamette Neighborhood Housing Services for a project in which residents of the historic Hotel Julian in downtown Corvallis made their own digital stories about a place that was meaningful to them. The two groups received a grant from the Benton County Cultural Coalition to fund the project.

A free screening of these short films, titled "Stories from the Hotel Julian," will be held Wednesday at the Darkside Cinema.

Willamette Neighborhood Housing Services offers affordable housing to people who qualify as low-income, disabled or seniors in Linn and Benton counties.

York and Rebecka Weinsteiger, community engagement manager of Willamette Neighborhood Housing Services, met with residents at the Hotel Julian to see if there was interest in the project. The response they got was stronger than expected.

"Ever since I started working with them two years ago, it was clear to see this is a building full of artists," Weinsteger said.

Residents' interest grew after they saw previous examples of digital story projects York had done with students from College Hill High School and Linn-Benton Community College, where she teaches writing classes.

Two separate groups of residents met with York to formulate ideas for their stories about a place. Then each group participated in two writing sessions at the Julian and two sessions at a computer lab in the Benton Center earlier this year.

The participants chose what they wanted to do their stories on and learned how to do it with help from York along the way.

"It's a group process. At the end of the workshop, we get together and watch them," she said.

The short films include voice-over narration, still and digital images, illustrations, music and more. A lot of the recording and editing of these digital stories can be done with a cellphone.

So far, four Hotel Julian residents have submitted their films for Wednesday's screening, with more coming. York and Weinsteiger will also share stories they've created.

"I made a digital story that was about the bagel shop I used to hang out at in Humboldt County (California), because that was what I wanted to tell," York said.

Weinsteiger made a piece that honors the late Jeff Bradshaw, a Julian resident and well-known figure in downtown Corvallis. He died in December 2015. Bradshaw, who got around by using a wheelchair, was an advocate for the rights of people with disabilities, Weinsteiger said.

"I'm telling his story through newsletters he had written in the early '90s," she said.

Another story is about the Hotel Julian and the effect it's had on one young man's life, York said.

"It's really a beautiful story, and I don't know that he could get that story heard by the community in a different way," York added.

The goal for the Resilience Project is to become an official nonprofit by the end of summer. York and Myhre, who is executive director, are planning more community digital storytelling workshops, York said.

Audience members will be able to meet residents from the Julian at the screening, an aspect York has enjoyed the most about the project.

"I'm a resident of downtown, so it's been fun to meet other folks in the community and hear the stories they have to tell that are funny, heart-breaking and relatable," she said.

Subscribe to Breaking News

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.