Caravan Project and its archive of stories at Product and systems design and engineer school, Syros
Caravan project was invented to participate as ” the most innovative organisation in new media and storytelling in Greece today” to the digital conference in Syros, organised by the department of Aegean university, Product and systems design and engineer school.
❝Sometimes we are storytellers, other times we are spectators of storytelling. We create and search for stories because they form an imaginary line we rely on in order to move on. Our thought takes shape through narratives. Our life is interwoven with the stories and corresponds to them. Storytelling emerges from a primordial need of the spectator to witness the fact which is considered as the object of his prayer. We tell our story daily in order to put our experiences into coherent meanings, to overcome our isolation and to reunite with the world and our fellow human beings. If we don’t articulate our own narrative, as someone has said, someone else will do it for us. If society doesn’t arrive at a collective storytelling, another story will be imposed by others.
The creation of caravanproject.org aims not only to effectively highlight the cultural work of our activity, but also to constitute a turning point of interaction and, furthermore, to enable a narrative repository, an interactive platform of multimedia narration, a space of an ever widening ecosystem of education, cooperation, coordination and feedback.
Our goal was to establish a common resource of tokens of our cultural inheritance which would be organically enriched over time. For this purpose, we prioritized the creation of a story archive. We aspire that this will be a reference point contributing to the maintenance of creation and participation within the local societies and inspiring the diffusion and the management of stories through their effective collection and storage.
Anyone who is interested is given the possibility to deposit human stories they have documented, through both their interaction with the exhibition space and the Caravan Project narrative seminars, as well as via the internet, thus contributing to the enhancement of narratives across Greece. Besides being openly, publicly accessible, these stories will gradually and systematically become a very useful tool through which other groups as well, cultural, educational or not, will be able to develop their own activities in the future.
In the Caravan Project’s story workshop, we wish to motivate the local societies for the documentation and preservation of human stories. For this purpose, in each visited place, we offer basic skills, tools and practices for their documentation to groups of adults, through seminars of creative storytelling.The participants create stories in cooperation with the creators of the Caravan Project, based on specific storyboards and through various accessible technologies, such as digital storytelling. The production of stories and their deposition in the story bank is our final objective.
The educational seminars are held in the Caravan Project’s space, set in each location. Their duration is six (6) days, bringing together one group of thirty (30) participants. They are addressed to people of all ages, social classes and colors, therefore assuring the pluralism of voices
Narration and myth exist prior to writing and are a core element of thought and culture. In every culture, the narration of stories holds a special position as the tissue connecting the collective subconscious is woven by them. The Celts used to say that only storytellers could become teachers and, in India, storytelling was of a ritualistic nature, as through it people could approach the divine. In ancient Greece, the role of myth was to awaken people, to unravel the darkness which hinders their inner vision and to help them see things as they really are. The Aborigines believed that stories are equivalent to a revival of common experiences and to the Indian tribes of North America oral storytelling would assure the continuation of their tradition.
The stories act as bridges, designed to help us overcome our isolation and to reunite with the world and our fellow human beings. We invent stories, we read stories and we hear stories. Our life is interwoven with and corresponds to them. Our thought takes shape through narratives. We evolved though stories and narratives jointly built, using them from the earliest years of our life to put our experiences into coherent meanings and to bequeath the collective identity, the wisdom and the experience to the next generation which will be able to build on these values and to walk through life.
Stories smooth the filaments that join people’s souls together in an indiscernible way, consolidating the indissoluble unity of human behaviors. They forge the family connections between people and act as a means of redefinition of the individual identity. Through storytelling, each one of us is given the possibility to sink into the world of the other, to feel his passions and his weaknesses, the powers that form his psyche and, participating to this revealing experience, to return to himself. This empathy not only reinforces the bonds with the other and with the community giving substance to humanity, but also acts as an experience of self-awareness, as an insight into the essence of human existence. We cannot be if we don’t become the other, we can see ourselves only through our immersion in the world of the other. Our emotions would be slippery if they didn’t find answers in another human being, our passions would be withered if they didn’t enchant other souls too, our worries would remain suspended if they didn’t define someone else as well. We mentally carry inside us the stories of people we know and they mold us, dribbling down our unconscious, as the water molds the stone.
Sharing human stories essentially entails sharing knowledge and experiences, which itself involves the storyteller’s commitment to the listener in a deeper form of communication focusing on the mental and spiritual richness of human existence. By grafting our lives with stories, we keep myth alive and we feed man’s primordial need to lend a meaning to his life.
The logic of stories is closer to the logic of poetry which doesn’t lead us to clear conclusions or to unquestioning convictions. It only stirs the imagination, cultivates inner understanding and makes it more important than rationalization. Only stories can make truth from lies or find the secret pathway to the core of life. Stories connect with the voices of deeply hidden emotions, recollecting the things we cannot say, the things that cannot be expressed but groan inside the burrow of our soul. They take our hand and lead us to the hidden hatch, where no flower grows without a fertile soil, where victories reside in the defeats and discordance cohere into melody. They “force” us to experience life as an entity where every note sounds clearly, where no arcade is sealed and no conviction prevails. They are always paradoxical and mystifying to some extent, as life is too. The language of logical arguments and proofs is the language of self-restraint, whereas the language of poetry, of stories and myths is the language of dreamers. They provide a continuation of our experiences and assure us that imagination is more powerful than knowledge, that myth is more necessary that reality, that dreams themselves are more essential that their interpretation.
When architects want to support an unstable arch, they add weight below it to strengthen the joints of its parts… this is what stories do too in times of crisis… they strengthen separate joints of our soul. “Sometimes we need stories more than food to stay alive”, Karen Dietz said, acknowledging the therapeutic property of stories that preserve this piece inside people which makes them radiate human energy, learn to endure what cannot be escaped, stand on their feet again after a disaster and fight again to lend a meaning to their lives.
We are interested in stories that make allusions, that do not instruct, stories that reveal the greatness in defeat, man’s transcendence before what threatens to define him, stories that lead to transformation and that avoid being emotional but stay close to the dark side which shapes us.
The Caravan Project collects stories that highlight various social dynamics (racism, diversity, self-definition, solidarity etc.) and that actively help form a communication framework on major issues of our times. So, through human experience as it is documented in our stories, the public is given the possibility to discuss about modern social dynamics, thus widening its point of view on issues related to its reality. Through personal narratives, the public witnesses various aspects of the human existence as these take shape in each social environment. At the same time, they create the preconditions for a more productive-empirical connection of the public with the social reality which surrounds it. It is not a passive receiver of poor information, but is transfigured into an active observer, sharpening its social consciousness. Sharing human stories, as the Caravan Project sees it, entails sharing life-experiences, that is, learning by doing, in an animate and direct way.