History in Focus: Sharing Stories. Supporting Community isn’t just an annual theme for the Rock County Historical Society (RCHS) in 2017, as was proven last night at its annual kick-off event held at the Helen Jeffris Wood Museum Center. Its goal is to capture hundreds of stories throughout the year from all corners of Rock County, working in partnership with local businesses, local government, nonprofits and the general public as partners to capture the essence of who Rock County is.
“The theme of ‘History in Focus: Sharing Stories. Supporting Community,’ for 2017 is about being in the community, capturing stories that inspire action and awareness about the Rock County community,” explained Mike Reuter, the Society’s Executive Director. “Storytelling is a way to inspire action within and elicit pride in a community. A large part of our mission is to capture and tell those stories in different, creative ways.”
Over 50 community leaders were at the history campus at the unveiling of the Society’s History in Focus theme, its calendar of events and various story portals from which people can share their story, their history. Four main portals are available for the public to share their story: social media, online, on a Story Wall, and via the RCHS’ Story Squad.
A new “Story Wall” was unveiled at the kick-off, where guests use RCHS’s Polaroid cameras to snap a photo of themselves and share a story of their choice, or to share a memory of living in Rock County.
Community members can also share their stories digitally, either using social media or the Society’s website to capture a moment or to tell a larger story. The Society’s Instagram account, by using the hashtag, #HistoryInFocus and via its website at www.rchs.us/HIF are story portals where stories can be shared and viewed by the public. Submitted stories via the website will be shared on the Society’s new weekly blog, “Focus In”, shining a spotlight a particular individual, business or cause in Rock County.
The most interactive way the Society will capture stories is via its Story Squad, an army of “story capturers” who will go out into the community. “Our Story Squad will be out in the community, gathering stories on the street, at specific events, we may event pop in at a place of business unexpectedly.”, says Reuter. “The Story Squad is a fun way to engage the community, getting them to share their story and in the process, helping the Society preserve and promote Rock County history.” “The Squad will be wearing specific apparel to identify themselves, and their main tool to capture stories will be a Polaroid camera and mobile phone, giving people the option of sharing their story in a more retro or modern way.”
Throughout 2017, RCHS will be asking unique questions related to monthly, weekly or daily celebrations, themes or anniversaries. Immediately in February, History in Focus will seek stories relating to Black History Month, Love, and Hate. “History is not just about the fun, fluffy, positive side of a community,” says Reuter. “It is our job to create awareness of what needs to improve in Rock County, its issues and use the past present and future to have a dialogue that leads to fostering a better way of life for all that call Rock County home.”
Follow the Society through our main Story Portals during 2017:
Instagram: rockctyhistory & use the hashtag: #HistoryInFocus
Web: www.rchs.us/HIF & follow our weekly blog: Focus In
Story Wall: Visit the RCHS campus and pin your story to our Story Wall inside the Helen Jeffris Wood Museum Center at 426 N. Jackson Street at RCHS events and during open hours.
Story Squad: Interact with our Story Squad at various RCHS events, community events and out on the street. If you are interested in inviting the Squad to your next event or business, please contact us at: 608-756-4509 ext. 301.