Town and Regional Self-Portraits

Community Self-Portraits

In the past 30 years, Robert Wolf and Free River Press have conducted dozens of community workshops in New York and Chicago, in smaller cities like Santa Fe, and in towns and villages in New Mexico, Texas, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Tennessee, and New Jersey.

Free River Press has compiled some community stories into anthologies for community self-portraits.

Communities that participate in this process capture their heritage in the written word, in book form, for posterity. By doing this they are describing who they are, where they have come from, where they might go. Their history becomes an added source of pride for their children and grandchildren.

Regional Surveys

Free River Press initiated and led two multi-county surveys in Iowa. These surveys were published in tabloid format and distributed free of charge. Each survey had three parts: first, a photo essay of the area. Second, a collection of written essays that described the area’s geology, flora and fauna, followed by a history of local Native American peoples and early white settlement, which was followed by a history of each function of the economy and culture. The third and concluding section was a survey of the area’s assets and needs.

It is imperative that as this country undergoes unprecedented change that communities and regions reassess all aspects of their heritage. Storytelling is the most powerful way of portraying a community’s assets–past and present–and of describing its needs. Published stories reach out to the entire¿ community and can be a first step in community redesign