One Story program to kick off Saturday

DOWAGIAC — Those looking to understand the generation below or above them will have their chance, thanks to an upcoming Dowagiac program.

The fifth year of the One Story program will kick off in Dowagiac Saturday, with an event called “Finding Our Stories” to take place at 1 p.m. at the Dowagiac Area History Museum. Saturday’s event is one of many that will take place throughout Dowagiac through the end of May. Each year, the program chooses a book for participants to read and structures events around the theme of the book. This year, the program is featuring two books, “Tuesdays with Morrie” by Mitch Albom and “Effie’s Image” by N.L. Sharp, both aimed connecting generations, which is the theme of this year’s program.

The program is a grassroots, culturally-based program that unites communities and local organizations through sharing personal experiences, according to its organizers.

Partners that contribute to the program currently include: the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi, the City of Dowagiac, the Dowagiac Area History Museum, the Dowagiac District Library, Dowagiac Union Schools, Ferris State University Southwest Region and Southwestern Michigan College.

“We try to encourage the community to read a book and engage through event and through each other,” said Steve Arseneau, director of the Dowagiac History Museum and one of the organizers with One Story.

Kristie Bussler, an employee with the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, has been heavily involved with One Story since its conception. She said that she and other organizers came up with the idea to make this year’s theme “connecting generations” after the idea kept coming up in conversations the organizers had with each other.

“We just kept talking about history and stories that got passed on or didn’t get passed on,” Bussler said. “We kept talking about elders and young people with elders. We knew we needed to address it. It’s on our minds and we didn’t want to let that pass by.”

Bussler said that connecting generations is more important now than ever due to technology changing the way the younger generations communicate.

“The younger and older generations have lost touch with each other even more because they don’t know how to communicate with each other,” she said. “We want to bridge that gap and get people talking again. … It’s important that the generations talk to each other and know that each one has value.”

Arseneau said that all the events planned for this year’s program will fulfill the purpose of connecting the generations of Dowagiac.

“[Bussler] has done a great job with this,” he said. “The events all fit the theme really well.”

Both Bussler and Arseneau said they hope the public will attend the One Story events, because they believe that anyone can learn from the lessons that will be taught at the various events.

“The older generation has so much to give. They have wisdom,” Bussler said. “Every stage of life is so valuable. We want people to recognize that and celebrate that.”

Saturday’s event will feature speaker Terri Moore, who will explore her experiences that led her to discover effective techniques to connect with individuals.

A full list of One Story Events is as follows:

Finding our Stories: 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24, Dowagiac History Museum.

Why are the numbers on Grandma’s phone so big? A panel discussion on aging: 1 p.m. Thursday, March 8, SMC.

Gwikwé’amen: Connecting generations: 11 a.m. Saturday, March 17, Pokagon Band Community Center.

Valuable health and wellness: Be your best you: 1 p.m. Thursday, April 5, Cass County Council on Aging, Front Street Crossing.

Spring into your local library: Scavenger hunt: 10 a.m. Saturday, May 12, Dowagiac District Library.

Epilogue feast: 6 p.m. Thursday, May 24, Pokagon Band Community Center.

Additionally, the program will be hosting a writing project throughout the duration of the program called “Topics from Morrie.” Bussler encouraged any interested to participate by submitting a writing about one of the topics highlighted in “Tuesdays with Morrie” to onestoryread.com/share.

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