Detroit stories have always mattered, even when they exist outside of mainstream consciousness. Community-based archival methods are an essential part of ensuring that our histories and legacies do not get erased, dismissed or forgotten. In this network gathering, we will draw connections between the practices each of the participants have cultivated to collect, preserve and amplify authentic and complex stories of community in Detroit. Together, we will bring “non-traditional”* community archiving and storytelling practitioners and organizations to open up our understanding of all the ways that we can use our mediums to transform oppressive narratives, heal generational wounds, and create new possibilities for community-building and collective transformation.

*To us: non-traditional indicates that the person or group doing the archival work is a departure from European, gate-keeping structures, practices and values that are usually seen within museums and other mainstream institutions. It can point to how we are archiving what is in our homes or communities, and happens with or without formal archival training.

Call for participation:

  • What is the purpose of archives and archival storytelling?
  • What are the stories being told and preserved about Detroit?
  • Why do community-based archives matter and need support?
  • What are key archival tools, technologies and practices that we can share and resource?
  • What happens when our stories are not told? What is lost?
  • How is it possible to (re)build trust with archives and institutional repositories?

Preserving Detroit Stories is a Network Gathering (NG) for people and formations who are doing place-based work to preserve, protect, and facilitate access to community histories. We are centering our focus on projects that are happening in Detroit, and welcome virtual participants who are outside of Detroit to join us. This NG is for you if you are curious about the work of archives and trying to understand why this work is important. It is for you if you are an artist, cultural worker or organizer doing work to capture and share the realities of your community, that would not always be considered “archival”. This space is for you if you are an educator, student, or otherwise interested in learning more about how stories of Detroit (and beyond) are being told and cherished.

During our time together, you will be able to share more about the projects you are working on (or want to work on), explore and experiment with tools and skills, contribute to transformative discussions about process and values of non-traditional* archival practice, and participate in a tour that highlights various Detroit community storytelling & archiving projects.

This will be a hybrid NG that allows participation in-person for those joining from Detroit, with others joining us on Zoom. To participate in this NG, registration will be required. If you have any questions, please reach out to PG Watkins, pwatkins [@] blackbottomarchives.com.