Storytelling consumes me and I’m lucky I can make a living doing it. One of the reasons I love it so much is that it brings me to people and people to me - which is why I’m so proud to be part of a little event called Rain City Chronicles. It’s an ongoing series that asks a variety of Vancouverites to pick a story inspired by a theme and tell it in under seven minutes to an audience. Our first event’s theme was “firsts.” It was a special night that proved to us, and everyone who attended, that there is a real hunger for this kind of community celebration. Our second event takes place next Monday, March 29 at The Western Front and the theme is “luck.”
I talked to my co-organizers, Karen Pinchin and Lizzy Karp, about how our wonderful little event came to be and where we see it going.
Me: This is the first time I’m interviewing more than one person for this column. This is my first threesome! We’ve come together to talk about Rain City. What should we let people know?
Lizzy Karp: Rain City is the magical brainchild of us three. It was born at a freelance meeting and we just decided that it would be and we’d make it work and from that moment on, we just started working on it. We found a venue for our first one, which was on December 1 of last year at Little Mountain gallery and we got our friends and acquaintances to come tell stories about a first that had happened to them. And it was fantastic. It was great.
Karen Pinchin: It wouldn’t be unfair to say it was a raging success.
Me: A triumph.
LK: It was triumphant. And lots of strangers came up to me after the event and said “This is amazing. You have to let us know when the next one is.”
KP: Meanwhile, we were feeling insecure and looking around for validation that this was something the community wanted.
Me: And boy were we validated!
LK: I think people really want to hear good stories and hear them live. We get our media all over the place all the time; we’re bombarded with reality TV and hoaxes and we’re really desperate for good stories. That’s why the Moth podcast, which we loosely based this idea off of, is so popular. And why people are so excited about this idea when we mention it to them.
Me: Where do we see this going?
KP: Our dream venue is The Cultch, so if any one from The Cultch is reading this, please get in touch.
Me: Who are some storytellers we hope take part in future events? Mine is the assistant at my dentist’s office. She’s so smiley and happy and I’m sure she has some good stories.
LK: The mayor! Gregor Robertson. That is my goal for the next year. He’s got to have some good stories.
KP: It’d be really nice to have someone we see a lot of but don’t get to see much of their actual life. One thing that I was thinking about today is that we have some really big names on our bill, but you’re not going to see the “big” parts of these people. You’re going to see the little parts, vignettes, and I think that’s a lot more important. I think it will be really refreshing to see people who may have name recognition but to see a part of them that’s more personal and more meaningful. I’m totally stoked.
Me: Me too.
LK: Me three.
Me: I like that it’s something that if someone stumbled upon it, they wouldn’t be disappointed. There’s something for everyone.
KP: It’s not some cliché, scenester thing. We want to be the antithesis of that.
LK: It’s scene-less. The experience is why you come. You can read about it, or hear the live recording, which is great, but it’s all about being in the room and leaving with your friends and dissecting the stories and wanting to know more about people. It brings out the stories from your life.
Me: I was so impressed with the first one, how people stood around for half an hour after and related to the stories they had just heard and that went on to something else. It was really cool.
KP: That’s how you build community. That’s how you build social engagement. That’s how you build democracy. It’s starting that dialogue and setting it loose.
Me: Yeah! Let’s all high five!
If this doesn’t entice you to attend the next Rain City Chronicles event, maybe the lineup will. It takes place at The Western Front, 303 East 8th Avenue on March 29 at 7 p.m. Our guests include:
Actor Nadiya Chettiar
Comedian, activist and author Charlie Demers
CBC Radio 3 host Lana Gay
Communications whiz Pamela Hart
Guardian blogger Colin Horgan
Vancouver Is Awesome founder Bob Kronbauer
Globe and Mail reporter Marsha Lederman
Journalist Erin Millar
Librarian Rebecca Slaven, accompanied by Andre of The Obvious Peaks and Valleys
With musical guest Louise Burns aka Moonshiner!