A few years ago I had an incredible experience when I had the chance to work with Jaime Courville on the ‘Soupy Through a Slideshow‘ audio portraits. Essentially she came over my house and photographed and recorded me as I created a soup. The result was a beautiful and unexpected experience as I had the chance to have both appreciate the simplicity of soup making as well as a way to have a personal slideshow showcasing how meaningful it is to me.
Now Jaime is continuing her passion for telling stories by embarking on incredible new project called Squirrel Stories, a “place for the stories of people living with cancer told in their own voice.” With the many articles and books out there about the disease, there is very little attention to the people who are actually suffering. The dialogue is taken away, and we all don’t know the complexity of what sufferers are really dealing with. What this project is attempting to do is to bring the gap between misunderstanding and sadness and give those who are suffering a voice so “their friends and families will be better able to understand what they are going through.”
To get this project started, Jaime is currently hosting a indiegogo campaign so that she can “fund the cost of a website, the recording and production of at least ten stories and will provide the foundation for this community to continue.” Through these resources she will be able to produce these unheard stories that she noted, “will touch everyone.”
Learn more about Jaime from our recent interview and check out her video about the project below:
Serena: Where did the idea for Squirrel Stories come from?
Jaime: The idea was planted in my head when a friend who had cancer told me she didn’t want to go back into the ICU because she felt so lonely in there. I thought if she could hear the voice of someone in the same boat she would have felt a little comfort.
I have been making audio portraits of people going through life changing experiences for a while but recently started thinking more about disease.
Serena: How did you connect it with telling stories for those affected by cancer?
Jaime: Cancer is everywhere. Everyone is affected by it and it is still such a lonely process. If you have it you are alone. If your friend or loved one has it you don’t know what to do with it. I thought there had to be a place for people to talk about it.
Serena: What have you learned from hearing these stories.
Jamie: Everyone has a story. There are a few things that I keep hearing. 1. People will ask those who are sick how they are doing but don’t really want to know. I think disease makes a lot of people uncomfortable and they don’t know how to talk about it. I hope Squirrels Stories can somehow help with that. 2. Everyone has a cancer story and they often end in death. People do not always want or need to hear those. 3. When you have cancer, it is like everyone around has cancer too. In other words, some of the people I have spoken with said that they had to spend a lot of time comforting those around them who were not sick.
These are bits and pieces. Of course, it is different for everyone. I am not trying to seem like I have any idea what it is like to have this disease.
Serena: Can you talk a little about the process in putting together a story?
Jaime: I go to the home of the person I am interviewing and we have a conversation. Sometimes it lasts an hour and sometimes more. I do have questions written out but it is very loose. I always try to also get some sounds of their everyday life to give the portraits more depth.
I come home, take out my own voice and gently chip away at it until the portrait is finished. Most people actually like the process even when the subject is difficult. It has been described as cathartic.
Check out this video to learn more about Squirrel Stories:
Donate today – a little goes a long way!
To learn even more about Squirrel Stories, please visit: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/squirrels-stories