With our mission to listen and tell the stories of the people in our community, we also created the Stories Project and Take Another Look in partnership with ReThink Health.

Stories project

The Stories Project paired trained Listeners with members of the community to capture stories of aging with dignity, economic security, and life in Claremont.  Each story session lasted about an hour and the stories were recorded by trained Listeners, but kept confidential. The recorded stories were sent off to be transcribed and redacted before analyzed by ReThink Health staff. Over time, the myriad stories and the data drawn from each story accumulated to give us an accurate picture of what life is like in the Valley.  Our hope was that the data and vibrant stories collected from the Stories Project would impact change in organizations and systems that give shape to our local healthcare, social, and economic systems.

While sharing stories and data with local organizations is a powerful act, we also believed we could take the Stories Project one step further and invite all community members to bear witness to our common community landscape. The two reports from the Stories Project, addressing stories from seniors about aging with dignity and stories about economic security and life in Claremont, are available below.

Senior stories report

Trained UVIP Listeners have interviewed 160 Storytellers, recording their experiences about health, happiness, and the overall aging process. The two categories that stood out as a result of the stories were community and healthcare. Seniors have commented on the importance of having social ties in a rural area, although a lack of transportation often proved to be a frustrating barrier to taking advantage of community events. Services provided by organizations such as Connect Cornish have proved to be helpful for seniors’ community needs and their access to recreation. Faith and civic engagement are also important parts of life for many seniors, although physical limitations can provide a barrier to former activities. Ultimately, a loss of independence and its associated impact on mental and emotional well-being emerged in many contexts throughout this Stories Project. 

Seniors also spoke about advance care planning under the healthcare category. Many had plans in place with their healthcare practitioner or family members. However, others had no long-term plans or did not wish to share them. This may be because they had no one to confide in or did not have clear idea of where to begin. The storytelling process brought up emotions and thoughts that spurred reflection and action; like, the creation of the Useful Tools for Aging with Dignity program. This course, developed by seniors for seniors, addresses getting affairs in order, community, and advanced care planning.

To find out more and read the complete report, please click on the button below. 

Claremont Stories Report

Poverty has remained a distinct and pervasive threat to the people of Claremont, affecting how they live and move around in the area. While many Storytellers commented positively on the affordability of housing in Claremont compared to areas such as Lebanon or Concord, others spoke about the higher property taxes and maintenance fees that forced them to give up their home or increased prices of rent. These are the recommendations that were given to address these issues: raising awareness about homelessness in the area and how property taxes were used, recruiting more tax payers to live in the area, and working with Upper Valley Habitat for Humanity and their model to address home maintenance. 

Transportation also remains an issue, with some Storytellers mentioning how privileged they were for having their own vehicle. In Claremont, over 10 percent of households do not have access to a personal vehicle, compared to the 5.28 percent for the rest of the state. While public transportation and rides from others can help individuals get to places they need, the fact that these are not always reliable and have their own limitations can become frustrating. These are the recommendations that were given to address these issues: expanding bus routes and schedules, expanding transportation options for students after school and for those wanting to attend events after 5PM, and providing transportation between Claremont, Keene, Lebanon, and Hartford, as well as a bus route from Claremont to Mt. Ascutney, VT. 

To find out more and read the complete report, please click on the button below. 

Take Another Look

While stories in the Stories Project are kept confidential, many participants in the Stories Project lend their faces and voices to the cause of creating change and take part in our art exhibit "Take Another Look."

UVIP, ReThink Health, Thompson Senior Center, CATV and local artists have worked together to document “real” New England lives and display them in our first iteration of our "Take Another Look" multi-media art show.  In the future we will be exhibiting "Take Another Look" exhibits featuring seniors in Lebanon and Enfield, and residents of Claremont. Stay tuned for invitations to view our meaningful art!