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Oswego Summer Storytelling Sessions

Participation is free!
Which session do you want to sign up for?


Recollection brings generations together through objects, storytelling and exhibits. Our Summer Storytelling Sessions are an attempt to counteract the isolation members of our community, and older adults in particular,  have experienced during the pandemic by bringing small groups of 3-4 residents together for a facilitated conversation rooted in physical objects.

Participants are each invited to bring along a memento or keepsake, an object that has meaning to them, as a catalyst for conversation. Objects offer many ways to engage: analytically, emotionally and sensorially.  They help us find connections to places, contexts, experiences, memories, and each other.

The people who participate in these sessions, the stories they tell and the objects they bring will serve as the foundation for an upcoming exhibition, a mini museum of our community, at the Oswego Welcome Center this fall (take a look at exhibits we’ve done in the past).

Storytelling Sessions

We recommend signing up for a specific storytelling session in advance to secure a spot (limited seats are available). We have 4 sessions available this summer and plan to offer more in the future. 

Once registered you will need to choose an object (a memento or keepsake) to bring with you. See “choosing an object” for tips on how to pick what to bring.

Sessions this summer will be offered at the new Oswego Welcome Center on West 1st Street in downtown Oswego.

Upon arrival you can expect a session to go something like this:

  • Welcome by the project facilitators: Mike, Rebecca and Seeley. Curious who we are? Meet our team!
  • Introduction to the storytelling method. Don’t worry—writing, acting, and creativity are not required. You just need to be yourself, the facilitator will do the heavy lifting.
  • Storytelling with a small group of up to 3 other participants and a facilitator. Each participant will share their object with the group. First the group may make observations about the object and then you’ll be asked to talk about how you acquired the object and how it holds meaning for you. Other participants will also be asked to talk about what the object reminds them of or what connections they feel towards the object. If folks in the group consent, the conversation may be recorded in order to create accurate documentation of your story. Audio clips will not be used in the exhibit.
  • Your object will be photographed and documented like a museum object would be.
  • A photographer will create a portrait of you and your objects.
  • The group will have a short conversation about the experience and be asked to fill out an evaluation form of the session.
  • Participants are invited to continue chatting and getting to know each other once the session has ended—you never know, you might make a new friend!

Choosing an Object

We each have our own little mini-museums whether it is in a pocket, a bag, a drawer, a shelf, a closet, a garage full of objects we’ve accumulated, collected, and cared for that have stories and wisdom embedded within them. We’ve seen a wide variety of objects from the everyday: pens, pop tops, and staplers to the more unique like a ceramic bull and an accordion. All of these objects make for interesting conversations. 

The best objects are:

  • Physical 3D objects and not photos. Physical objects are much easier for others to connect to than photos of people or pets other participants don’t know.
  • Ones that you use or interact with regularly. Everyday objects can hold a lot of meaning because it is hard to imagine life without them.
  • Mementos or keepsakes that have made it through multiple moves or downsizing. There must be a reason why you’ve held on to it for so long!
  • Easy to carry. No one wants to lug something large and heavy around downtown.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you don’t see an answer to your question below, please email our team at

It is free! It just costs you a little bit of time.

Sessions generally take between an hour and ninety minutes.

Whatever makes you comfortable—just remember to smile for our awesome student photographer who will make a portrait of you and your object!

Great! We won’t know anyone either and look forward to meeting you. Our sessions are designed to be in small groups and are structured in a way that will make it easy to meet people and have something to talk about. You’ll have fun if you’re open to being curious.

We’re looking for current residents of Oswego to participate, whether or not you are a new resident or have lived here for a long time.

The program is designed for the 55+ crowd, but if you’re a little under no one will notice. You’re welcome to come alone or bring a family member, friend,  or caregiver with you. Don’t worry if you don’t know anyone, we’ll make sure you meet a small group. The technique itself works great with kids, so you can try it on your own with the grandkids afterwards!

The Oswego Welcome Center is new this summer. It is located in the Canal Commons building on West 1st street. You can enter the Welcome Center from within the building (helpful if you park behind the building) and from the street. Both entrances are accessible. There is street parking and a lot behind the building. There is an accessible bathroom in the Canal Commons building.

Our facilitators are experienced with working with older adults including individuals who may be experiencing limited mobility including wheelchair users, vision loss, hearing loss, and those experiencing dementia or early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. If you have further questions or need to request a specific accommodation, please reach out to our design director, Rebecca ( 

We ask that participants follow current CDC guidelines, which does include wearing masks indoors if you are not fully vaccinated. Each session will have no more than 15 people (including facilitators). We will sanitize between sessions and have hand sanitizer available for your use.

Sign me up!

We’re so glad you want to participate. Which session do you want to sign up for?

Location Information

Oswego Summer Storytelling Sessions