From Alexi: Storytellers in My Family

After months of outreach, planning and story collection, we are less than a week
away from Story Vault. Liz and I are busy and excited. So far it has been a wild and
exhilarating ride through the amazingly varied world of family history. When Liz and I
started this campaign, we hoped to raise enough money to move forward with our films,
but, more importantly, we wanted this process to help us understand our own fascination
with our past and family lore. Through conducting interviews and hearing other people’s
endlessly interesting ancestor stories, I have been amazed by our interconnected yet
varied histories and how they have been shaped by colonialism and migration. It is
amazing that we all live in the same communities, right next door to each other, yet we
don’ t know the rich and unique stories that have brought us here.

I was lucky to have two storytellers in my life growing up: my mother and my paternal
grandfather. Obviously my mother’s stories of a far away land had a huge impact on
my creativity, but my grandfather’s stories of growing up in San Francisco and his
Irish family were also wonderful. Unlike my mother’s stories of an exotic world, my
grandfather’s stories helped me to feel connected to the familiar, to San Francisco
and the American immigrant experience. I felt particularly lucky to be a filmmaker
when Grandpa Joe passed away five years ago. My father and uncle had spent several
afternoons with an old VHS camera documenting his stories and I offered to edit the
footage into a tribute film. The audio and image were grainy, but his spirit shined
through anyway. I created an hour-long video with these tapes and felt particularly lucky
to be able to spend precious and intimate hours with my grandfather in this way after his
passing. During these hours he told me many stories and I learned a lot about who he
was as a man, not just as a grandfather. I was then able to shape these stories and share
them with my family, which was an honor. Here’s an excerpt from the video:

One of these stories about Grampa Joe’s childhood inspired me so much that I’m working on a short narrative film based on it!

Nowadays it’s easier than ever to document and share these amazing life stories and I
really hope that the Great Grandfather Club and Story Vault will inspire everyone to
document and keep alive all of their own unique and fascinating family stories and share
them with the rest of us, so that we can all be reminded of what a rich history of life
experiences and personal struggles we possess and how connected we are.


Our First Story Booth

On February 3, 2012, The Great-Grandfather Club had its very first Story Booth set up in the parking lot of Studio Quercus during the Oakland Art Murmur. At the time, we joked that we were crashing the event, but really, we were welcomed with open arms, and to date, it is probably the most elaborate set up the GGClub has had so far. And it was also our first major team effort.

For starters, Alexi and I put in hours of work around organizing the event, getting the newlsetter out in time to let our friends know where to find us, along with an endless list of odds and ends that I can’t even remember anymore. And of course, we had to have a website, graphics, fliers and other materials, which were designed by my cousin, Neil Freese, and web designer Elvis Murks. On the night of the Art Murmur, my parents and my Tio Fernando brought a utility trailer from Fairfield for us to create a mini-studio complete with used furniture and a couple of plants. Alexi’s husband Wynn provided incredible support in a number of ways like editing all of our print materials and running around recruiting Art Murmur attendees to tell us their story. Emily White and Laura Rogers were also there drumming up support for the booth and interacting with passersby. I should also point out that both Laura and Emily are marketing gurus who gave us tips throughout the night on how to sell our concept and draw a crowd. Friends James and Katie brought a ton of enthusiasm and chatted up story tellers who were on deck to step into the ‘studio.’ And our crew, Kyung Lee, Sarolta Cump and Youngbin Kwon showed up early and stayed until the very end to make sure that every participant had a chance to tell their story.

The GG Club’s Story Booth @ February 2012 Oakland Art Murmur

At the time a lot of details were still getting worked out around the concept of the GG Club, the end goal, and how the public would respond to the project. But Alexi and I knew that we wanted to get people as excited about telling their ancestor stories as we were about telling our own. And our friends and family were on board from the start to help us make that happen. So, as we gear up for our grand finale, Story Vault, this June, we are fueled by the continued support of our friends and family, in addition to all of the individuals who have contributed stories to our project. You’ll be able to catch a lot of them at our event on June 16th. Here are some of the highlights from our very first story booth at the Oakland Art Murmur in February. – Liz

El Rio Event and Party

Come party with us at El Rio!

3158 Mission Street, SF, CA 94110

Thursday March 8th from 6:30 to 9:00

5$ Suggested Donation at the Door

IndieGoGo launch party!

Meet the video artists for our June event!

Enjoy the screening and story booth!!

Featuring the music of Buck Lacey, a mix of blues, folk and rock influences. He has been writing music and songs since he was 18.

Don’t miss the falafel, spring rolls and papusas!

The Great-Grandfather Club: Oakland Art Murmur, February 2012 from greatgrandfatherclub on Vimeo.