Community Story Circles: An Opportunity to Rethink the Epistemological Approach to Heritage Interpretive Planning

Lesley Curthoys, Brent Cuthbertson, Julie Clark


Storytelling is one way of sharing what it means to live in a particular place: its history, inhabitants, opportunities, challenges, rhythms, ways of life, and obligations to that place. This paper offers an exploration of the nature and significance of coming together to orally share place-based stories, within the context of environmental and cultural interpretation. The community story circle invites co-existence of diverse stories independent of time. Historic, near past, and in-the moment stories of place mingle and play in unexpected ways, offering textured insight into what it means to be in a particular place. While all forms of narrative inquiry are valuable for interpretive planning, our findings suggest that the synergy of the community story circle provides a depth and diversity that may not emerge with more individualistic narrative methods. Beyond interpretation, this mode of coming to know place offers possibilities for other forms of place-based education.

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