Bigger than big words

Photograph by Christian Korta c Story Stitchers, 2016

Written by Christian Korta

Christian is a Fall 2016 Master of Architecture Graduate from Washington University in St. Louis. He now lives near Portland, Oregon, and is working at LSW Architects.

This past semester, I organized an independent study with Story Stitchers, plugging in with the team to work with high school students on the brand and image of their music label and the development of the Trap Life board game.

While pursuing this opportunity at an academic level, I had not expected it would personally impact me as strongly as it did. I am now living 2,000 miles away from St Louis, in the rainy city of Portland, but still reflecting on the experience and focusing efforts in guiding the completion of the board game.

St. Louis is a divided city. It’s not all doom and gloom, but behind the veil of a city that many people love and call home are racial, socio-economic, political, and cultural barriers that are very real challenges having developed over long periods of inequality. These are big words and big challenges. Going into Story Stitchers as a graduate student, these were the big words floating through my mind as I would brainstorm what I wanted to tackle that semester in my own little way.

However, those words are not at all the best way to describe what I experienced and accomplished that semester. Bigger than big words and big ideas, my experience at Story Stitchers was about relationships… and I should have expected this! It is baked into the very name of the organization: Story Stitchers. Truth is, we can talk about the big issues all day long, but unless we make the effort to dive into personal relationships, and take a crack at stitching our individual stories into a colorful tapestry, then all we are doing is just talking. Let’s tackle the big issues, but not forget that the foundation of all good work is good relationships.

Take five minutes to scroll through Facebook, and read the hundreds upon hundreds of charged and nasty words that people have for each other. These people don’t even know each other.

We have to bring our stories together.

And for me, this happened through Story Stitchers.

Through working with Susan, KP and his family, and the many other individuals working diligently, we developed friendships that I am confident will continue on through our lives. When I would find myself in a position of stress at school, it was a breath of fresh air to walk through the doors of the storefront, and find the smiling faces of friends on the other side, energized for the next bit of fun we would have together: celebrating birthdays, photographing, brainstorming the board game, or just taking a quiet moment to talk about life.

So now I am here in Portland. But it is not done yet- we’ll have more updates on the board game soon! And I am sure the completion of the Trap Life will only be the beginning of a future life together and abroad.