Relay of Voices expedition to make stops in Lansing and Harpers Ferry on its journey down the Mississippi; Public invited to participate in variety of events

Lansing and Harpers Ferry are “Calling all runners, walkers, bikers and paddlers!”

The Relay of Voices relay team will be coming into Lansing August 7 from La Crosse, WI and leaving August 8, and entering Harpers Ferry August 8 and leaving August 9 to move on to Guttenberg, and the public is invited to greet and meet the Relay of Voices relay team as they enter and leave each community. Lansing and Harpers Ferry will each host the relay team and its crew with a community potluck, local entertainment and an opportunity to gather along the Mississippi River and share local stories.

Relay of Voices is a four-month expedition, July through November this year, from the headwaters to the mouth of the Mississippi River, and it will make its way along the Allamakee County border with the Mississippi River August 7-9. Spearheaded by Victoria Bradford Styrbicki, with the assistance of a relay team made up of support staff and regional volunteers, Relay of Voices embarks on a mission to collect individual stories across the Mississippi River region while connecting over 100 river towns along the journey.

Styrbicki and her team are listening for the voices of the river, the surrounding hills and valleys and the people who make their homes and live their lives along the Mississippi. The team approaches it in an artistic fashion using various forms of movement and listening with local participants to experience and document the ambiences of the area.

A major component of Relay of Voices is daily interactions to gather the voices of each community. Styrbicki will immerse herself in one-on-one exchanges with local residents in each town where she has arrived by documenting daily gestures, movements, actions, rhythms, rituals and behaviors through what is referred to as “whole body listening.” Through this empathetic listening process, she gathers the unique stories of the individual participants through both words and movement shared through the interaction experience.

These Relay of Voice interactions can involve a two- to three-hour time investment, at work, leisure or just everyday life, where Styrbicki will observe, participate when possible, and engage in conversation when not disruptive. She will ask a few specific questions but mostly seek to hear unguarded thoughts about anything the interview subject chooses to share.

Following the day’s activities and the performance event,  the morning of August 8 in Lansing and August 9 in Harpers Ferry the miles to their next destination will be approached as a relay composed of walkers, runners, cyclists and paddlers from neighboring river communities. Styrbicki will approach those distances with a run out of town, cycling the longer stretch, followed by a run into the next town.

Styrbicki and the relay team will “gather the landscape” making observations with their senses as well as with GPS body cameras mounted to their torsos or bikes for use in mapping analysis and storytelling.  Those recordings will document turn by turn the route that Relay team members and the walkers/runners/cyclist/paddlers will take from Lansing to Harpers Ferry and beyond.

Local residents are asked to consider participating in any facet of this event. For more information, visit www.relayofvoices.com or, more locally, contact Derva Burke, Librarian at the Meehan Memorial Lansing Public Library, at dburke@lansing.lib.ia.us and Sheila Diggins, President of the Harpers Ferry Boosters, Inc., at 319-361-7389 or at irishfoxylady@mchsi.com. Everyone is encouraged to participate in the gatherings and community potluck. Further details of local events being planned will be shared as they become available.
 

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