Oral history and adult community education : notes from the field

Beattie, Eleanor and Bean, Audrey and Landry, Mireille and Baines, Sandra, L'Abri en ville (2011) Oral history and adult community education : notes from the field. Oral History Review, 38 (1). pp. 120-135. ISSN 0094-0798

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In May 2009, Concordia University’s Institute for Community Development (ICD), the Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling, and L’Abri en Ville, in Montreal, Canada, organized a collaborative oral history workshop. As part of the ICD’s Open University program, it aimed to give a group of adults, several of whom were coping with mental illnesses, an opportunity to learn about this craft in a setting that was free of the barriers that tend to divide communities and universities. In many respects, facilitating this oral history workshop, whether it was in an organizational, teaching, learning, or support capacity, was similar to conducting an oral history interview. For it to be effective, everyone who was involved in this experiment had to trust the process, committing to sharing authority and a flexible approach. This article offers a reflection on the sustained conversation that took place throughout this workshop and a discussion about the ways that it impacted its facilitators, teachers, and participants.