Flood Stories is a participatory audio storytelling project by audio documentary-maker Jeanti St Clair. The installation features audio stories about the 2017 Lismore flood, told from the perspectives of people who were flooded and people who helped in the recovery. Each flood story is presented as an audio recording that has been collected through a public storytelling workshop and interviews.
Delayed a year by the pandemic restrictions, the project was originally timed to coincide with the third anniversary of the 2017 Cyclone Debbie flood that devastated Lismore, as the installation is framed around the third phase of recovery from trauma: reconnection and integration (Hermann, 1992). The person is no longer defined by their trauma but can share their story without re-experiencing the trauma (Manitoba Trauma Information & Education Centre, 2013). This installation is an opportunity for the Northern Rivers community to reconnect around some key themes and learnings from the 2017 flood, and engage in story-sharing to aid mental health recovery and release.
Inside the shipping container, two racks of bright yellow raincoats run along the walls; a pair of gumboots sit beneath each raincoat. In the pocket of each raincoat is a small audio player and set of headphones.
Visitors arrive at the shipping container and are asked by an attendant if they would like to listen to a story about surviving the flood or about being part of the rescue and recovery teams. The visitor is then kitted out with a raincoat and gumboots. The visitor puts on the headphones, presses play on the audio player and is directed by the storyteller to walk around The Quad and surrounding streets while listening to one person’s story before returning to the shipping container where they will be asked to complete a brief survey.
This methodology is broadly inspired by the Empathy Museum’s A Mile in My Shoes project, which suggests that an embodied/walking listening practice can support an empathetic engagement by the listener with the person’s story. When we walk as if in someone’s shoes, we are more open to understanding their experiences.
Visitors will also be encouraged to make a recording on their phone of their flood story or their reaction to the Flood Stories installation and email it to the project at email@example.com or via the lismorefloodstories.net website. The content may be compiled into an audio storytelling soundscape for a later project.
For more information, see lismorefloodstories.net. This event is free but you will need to register on site.
Flood Stories Operating Times:
Wednesday April 28 4pm -6pm: 5pm - Opening Event
Thursday April 29 11am-2pm, and 4-6pm
Friday April 30 11am-2pm, and 4-6pm
Saturday May 1 11am-2pm
Sunday May 2 12pm-2pm
Monday May 3 closed
Tuesday May 4 11am-2pm
Wednesday May 5 11am-2pm
Thursday May 6 11am-2pm, and 4-6pm