By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – History is stories of people – how events shaped their lives, how they prevailed against the odds, what they valued and even what made them laugh.
Current and former Oxonians are adding just such details to the record of their community’s history. “My Oxford” is a project to collect people’s stories and publish them as a book in observance of the city’s 175th year.
“Storytelling is our oldest form of communication,” said Wayne Andrews, director of the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council, Oxford’s local arts advocacy organization. “Everyone that lives – or has lived – in Oxford can be part of telling our town’s colorful history by just sharing their memories with us.”
The project’s website, www.myoxford.oxfordarts.com, suggests topics as varied as “the founding of your church, riding on a float in the Christmas Parade, a memory of a favorite restaurant, an encounter with one of Oxford’s colorful characters. We are looking to capture childhood memories, a story passed on by your favorite Aunt, a day that shaped your life while attending Ole Miss, or your memory of an event in Oxford.”
“My Oxford” stories are limited to 1,500 words, and the deadline for submission is Sept. 1, and publication will be just a few weeks later. Sponsors – the city of Oxford, Yoknapatawpha Arts Council and the Oxford Convention and Visitors Bureau – are hoping for 100 stories, but there is no limit on how many can be included.
The biggest challenge of the whole project, Andrews said, is connecting to folks who wouldn’t consider themselves writers but whose stories illustrate some part of the community’s character.
Other than checking for inappropriate content, he added that the stories will run as they are submitted.
“We are not editing the stories,” Andrews said. “We want (each writer’s) voice, their tone.”