City of Stories

A collaborative book project between Geoff Broadway and Mandy Ross, 2018 – 2019.

ExtraCare Villages are crammed full of stories. Within their walls, behind front doors, we found a wealth of life experience, which it has been a pleasure and an honour to share. The idea for the project started with ‘Cloak’, a short film- poem collaboration between Mandy Ross and Geoff, Broadway. ‘Cloak’ explores the stories we all carry, the whispers and voices in the city, and the traces we might leave behind us.

In City of Stories, we meet Brummies born-and-bred, and adoptive Brummies who have settled here, bringing accents and culture from near and far. We hear stories of lives lived down the road and halfway around the world.

It is rare to hear older people’s voices like this. Contributors reflected on their whole lives, right up to the present moment, picking out the things that mattered. They recalled tough times and savoured happy memories.

Together, these snippets and snapshots give a flavour of how life was really lived in distant decades. We see what children witnessed, how work and families have evolved, how daily life has changed. Through these personal stories, we can glimpse national events and world history – and we can make sense of how we are living here, now, in the present.

We invited each contributor to choose objects or photographs which help to tell their story, sometimes picking up threads that run through a whole life. In group sessions, Mandy invited people to work together, contributing different ideas on a shared theme. We worked collaboratively, exploring ways to capture each person’s distinctive voice and character as they told their story.

We could include only a few stories. We know there are so many more out there, waiting to be told and heard! We hope that you will feel inspired to explore some of the questions we have asked, revisit your own photos or precious objects, and share the stories that emerge.

Geoff Broadway and Mandy Ross 2019

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