This storytelling system taps the ordinary power of phones to circulate important DC stories and voices on neighborhood change. It is part of the “Right to the City” exhibition at the Anacostia Community Museum.
Callers will hear DC residents describe how they fought for their neighborhoods, and saw their neighborhoods change — drawing on oral histories gathered by the Smithsonian. Elevating authentic voices is especially valuable right now, as DC faces intense pressures of gentrification, and again undergoes major changes.
For the community museum, this system is a way to reach beyond museum walls, and offer access to DC residents — from home, or even from the street. Additional outreach will include several DC branch libraries, including with maps and the new Humanities Truck from American University.
This is also a participatory system. Over the next two years, the hotline will gather new voices and evolve, including to distribute multimedia from the exhibit.
Rather than focus on the internet, we believe an audio and transmedia system for public space and personal phones may have special uses to circulate stories that matter for DC neighborhoods. The hotline comes out of research at American University on neighborhood storytelling systems.