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Aug. 4, 2020

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Series to explore growth of Clark County through residents’ personal tales

By , Columbian Science, Military & History Reporter

A series of community conversations begins on Jan. 27 that will explore how we got here.

The project is defined by a theme, “How We Came to this Place,” and organizers looking for two types of findings — how we got to where we are now as individuals and as a community.

It will examine the different perspectives between recent arrivals and Clark County residents with deeper historical roots.

The Clark County Stories Project is a partnership of the Clark County Historical Museum, Washington State University Vancouver and Fort Vancouver Regional Library District.

The project aims to inspire and train community members to collect the oral histories of residents who have witnessed the changes of the last 30 to 50 years.

Events in the Series

Oral History Workshop

Jan. 27, 4 p.m., Library Headquarters, Library Hall, 1007 E. Mill Plain Blvd., Vancouver: Historian Donna Sinclair will help participants learn how to collect and preserve their community stories. Pre-registration is required at ClarkCountyStories@gmail.com

Community Conversations

Share your story of how you and your family came to Clark County and the changes you’ve seen.

• March 3, 1 to 4 p.m.: “How We Came to North Clark County,” Battle Ground Community Library, 1207 S.E. Eighth Way.

• May 26, 1 to 4 p.m.: “Migration Stories,” Vancouver Community Library, 901 C St., Columbia Room.

• Oct. 11, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.: “Sharing Our Stories,” Washington State University Vancouver, 14204 N.E. Salmon Creek Ave.

Summer Story Workshops

Turn your stories into written accounts for posterity. Workshops are held at the Clark County Historical Museum, 1511 Main St., Vancouver; all are Saturday sessions, 1 to 2:30 p.m.

• June 30 — “Everybody Has a Story: Publishing Your Short-Form Memoir,” Scott Hewitt, The Columbian.

• July 28 — “How I Found Myself in Clark County: Discovering the Self Through Poems of Place,” Christopher Luna, past poet laureate of Clark County.

• Sept. 15 — “Telling Stories with your Family Heirlooms,” Martin Middlewood, Clark County History Annual.

Museum Stories Exhibit

• Oct. 18, 5:30 p.m.: Opening reception, Clark County Historical Museum, 1511 Main St., Vancouver.

It opens at 4 p.m. on Jan. 27 with an oral history workshop in Library Hall at the Fort Vancouver Library District headquarters, 1007 E. Mill Plain Blvd. It will be led by Donna Sinclair, author and adjunct professor of history at WSU Vancouver.

The project began when Sinclair and WSU Vancouver professor Sue Peabody looked at demographic data for Clark County. The population has more than doubled over the last 30 years to almost 500,000. More than half — 54 percent — of its residents were born in another state; 10 percent were born in another country.

They started thinking about how all these people come to Clark County and how the county is changing in response to this growth.

“The theme — how we came to this place — is both literal and metaphorical,” Sinclair said in a news release. “We are looking at stories of migration: how residents and their ancestors arrived here. But we are also interested in exploring together the historical question: How is ‘this place’ the result of historical forces, both local and global?”

“Each of us has a story about how we came here,” said Peabody, who also is a Clark County Historical Society trustee. “Each of us can see the rapid development and changes in our communities.”

The older history of Clark County has been well documented, said Brad Richardson, executive director of the museum. Its recent transitions are less well told and understood, he said. The top three non-English languages in the Vancouver Public Schools are Russian, Spanish and Chuukese, spoken in Micronesia. The county has a large, visible LGBTQ presence. These chapters of recent history are under-documented, he said.

For information, go to www.cchmuseum.org/category/upcoming-events or call 360-993-5679.

Columbian Science, Military & History Reporter