Celestina Arellano Martinez, originally from Costilla, owned two pairs of shoes; these were her “At Home Shoes.” They were shared by her granddaughter, Jeannie Sanchez Masters on July 8, 2018 at the VFW Hall in Questa at the “Community Memory and Story Sharing” event organized by Questa Stories and the Questa History Trail. Listen to Jeannie’s brief description in the audio recording below.
In the middle of summer 2018, when the land was bone dry and we dreamed of summer storms, the Gathering Memory: Object, Photos, and Story Community Workshop was held at the Questa VFW Hall. How many people would come on a Sunday afternoon, organizers wondered? Twenty? Fifty?
On July 8, 2018, the VFW parking lot filled to overflowing and more than a hundred people filed in with objects of significance – photos, shoes, lamps, quilts, love letters – along with their stories.
Participants sharing their objects and photos on July 8 at the Gathering Memory Community Workshop. Click photo to enlarge.
Dr. Estevan Rael-Gálvez, former New Mexico State Historian and native son of Questa led the event, inviting participants to bring a special object that held a memory about a person, moment or place, or a photograph that could be used to tell a story. He asked that people bring the name of one ancestor whose life held special meaning to them. The idea behind these particular requests is that storytelling engages and strengthens a community’s sense of itself, that we all hold a piece of history, and that community members are community historians.
Left: Dr. Estevan Rael-Gálvez, presenting an eloquent introduction. Right: Room full of workshop participants.
At the height of the event, the wished-for rain arrived; everyone applauded until their sounds were drowned out by the drumming of the torrential monsoon. The wealth of stories, and the depth of individual and community history shared that day was as heavy an outpouring as that summer rain.
Questa Stories was there as well, to collect local stories for the online community archive. (Thank you, Sarah Parker for your diligent recording and editing – pictured at left.) We scanned images, recorded audio and took photographs of people with their objects. Now our work is to collate this collection and release individual stories as blog posts.
The day after the event Gaea and Claire sat together in Claire’s yard to reflect on this experience and the potential and purpose of the Questa Stories Community Memory Project . They recorded this audio.
Audio Time Stamps
00:00 – Introduction
00:30 – Where did you grow up?
01:00 – What do you love about this place?
02:15 – Love of New Mexico, Discussion of Place
04:15 – What is Questa Stories?
06:20 – July 8 Gathering Memory Workshop, Rainstorm
06:45 – Extending an invitation to contribute stories, more description about Questa Stories
10:00 – Community Archive
10:30 – Diaspora Community
11:00 – Questa Stories includes surrounding communities – Cerro, La Lama, Costilla, Amalia
11:54 – End
The July 8 event was hosted by the Questa History & Community Trail (QuestaTrail.org) and its sponsors: New Mexico Humanities Council, Northern Rio Grande National Heritage Area, and the National Park Service. The Questa History & Community Trail is a project of the Questa Creative Council, a non-profit organization (QuestaCreative.org).
This post has been re-posted on the Manitos blog, a digital Resolana (gathering place) for people, histories, and stories of northern New Mexico.