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Kelley Libby (left) and Free Egunfemi, two of the organizers for Saturday evening's "Secret Stories of Self-Determined Change."
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Secretly Ya'll co-organizers Kathleen Marie Brady (left) and Colin King.
This post in part answers the question about what happens when you open the Hippodrome for an extravaganza featuring the collaborative efforts of Free Egunfemi of Untold RVA, public radio story-searcher Kelley L. Libby and her "UnMonumental” series and the peripatetic storytelling outfit Secretly Y'all, organized by Colin King and Kathleen Marie Brady.
Part of what occurs is three people onstage giving a seven-minute rendition of their “Secret Stories of Self-Determined Change,” which should be compelling given those who’ll share. At least two of them.
The lineup includes Rebecca Wooden Keel, a native Richmonder, social activist and nascent politician, and Nathan Burrell, the dynamic manager of the James River Park System. And me. That’s right. I’m mixed up in this, too. I’ll talk about growing up in the verdant, virgin wilderness heart of Chesterfield County on an Edsel Farm. True story. Which is the criteria: The presentations must be honest. No Power Point. No walking around with a laser pointer. Just me and my hat and maybe a stool.
Untold’s Egunfemi saw the correlation between her work and Libby’s, and thus connected with the Hippodrome as a venue. Egunfemi is also organizing volunteers to assist in cleaning up the African Burial Ground in Shockoe Bottom, and this is to be coordinated through the nonprofit GroundworkRVA, which is about bringing green and natural beauty into the center city. The Burial Ground is a new endeavor for Groundwork.
Libby’s “UnMonumental” has aired on WVTF/Radio IQ as part of a larger program called "Finding America," funded in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. She says, “The initiative is incubating community storytelling projects across the country. An ongoing documentary about all the work for “Finding America” is here.
“This is kind of a big wrap party for the series,” Libby says. “It’s to bring together the community and thank everybody for their support. And all three of us, ["UnMonumental,"] Secretly Ya’ll and Untold RVA, are interested in getting these stories into the world.”
The evening will be recorded and edited for future dissemination by podcast.
Libby will bring up a couple of pairs of people to tell their stories together and we’ll hear a few others from her work as they were broadcast.
“The whole idea behind this is to promote Richmond as a city of self-determination,” Egunfemi says. “From Patrick Henry to Gabriel , from John Mitchell Jr. and Maggie Walker, to Elisabeth Scott Bocock and Mary Wingfield Scott, and the people who are out there doing these amazing things today.”
Egunfemi is leading a game with some audience participation based on Cards Against Humanity, but remodeled by DotankDC to Cards Against Urbanity, that uses the tropes of the snarky bar game to get into the nitty gritty of urban planning. A Richmond-centric version is forthcoming that she’s designing through the Storefront for Community Design: Cards Against Urbanity: The Black Excellence Edition. The players for this version will be Egunfemi, Josh Epperson co-founder of FeastRVA, Enjoli Moon, founder of the Afrikana Independent Film Festival and artist S. Ross Browne. “The answers are related to the city,” Egunfemi says. “It’s four hands and it’ll go quick and it’ll be hilarious.” There will be all this, more surprises, and Egunfemi’s specially designed Pinot Juice and Ukrop’s Rainbow Cookies.
Tickets are $10, and the event begins at 6:30 p.m.
Pinot juice, by the way, is Pinot Grigio, iced, and watermelon juice with a straw and garnished by a watermelon wedge. "Always ice," says Egunfemi. "Always a straw."
A couple of those may provide even more Richmond stories.