Few of us can remember a time without stories. From parents reading to babies to wedding toasts to reminiscing with grandparents, stories, whether written or oral, are a common thread in virtually every society.
And a new website based in the Creston Valley aims to capture all the stories that residents want to tell. Storyrealm.com recently went online, featuring audio versions of classics, as well as original stories, some from local contributors.
“Our long-term wish is to capture people’s stories,” said Gary Rehmeier. “We want to get stories from the community. … We want to foster a love of stories and storytelling.”
That, along with promoting the composition and telling of stories through various disciplines and creating learning opportunities that use story, is a key goal of Story Realm.
The website’s name carries through to its design, from artwork to category and theme titles. In the Castle of Tale, for example, visitors will find a dozen “rooms”, including the Chamber of Chronicles (history, time, philosophy and biography), the Hall of Mirrors (history’s most famous fantasy and fairy tales), the Chapel Room (inspirational stories about faith and hope) and the Sky Room (space travel, flight and fantastic journeys).
A visit to the Castle of Wonders allows visitors to read or listen to tales of nature and science, by clicking on the Observatory (the universe), the Grotto (animals, atmosphere and Earth), the Laboratory (tiniest building blocks of life) and the Throne Room (unexplainable events, strange objects, ghostly bodies).
While those areas contain stories about the realm told by Story Realm’s many characters, other parts of the website contain public domain classic stories narrated by various readers. Among the 200 or so stories that can be downloaded as MP3s, listened to or read online are A Tale of Two Cities, Anne of Green Gables, White Fang and Treasure Island.
All of the stories on the site meet a strict set of guidelines that promote family values, making Story Realm a safe place for readers of all ages.
“When our daughter wants to entertain her boys, she sits them in front of the computer,” said Terri. “And she listens while she does housework.”
But the most important aspect can be found in Story Cottage, which offers tips and activities that will help families make storytelling a part of their lives, as well as make their own contributions to Story Realm, through words, music or photos.
“We felt the basic concept of the story is lost in today’s society,” said Gary. “I wanted to be able to help people realize their creativity. A lot of people feel they can’t do much.”
The Rehmeiers moved to Creston in August 2008, having spent 30 years in Fort St. John after moving to Canada from the U.S. Gary, a systems and programs consultant, and Terri, a nurse, have spent the last few years developing Story Realm, with the help of over 40 people worldwide, from sound engineers to artists.
Locally, they’ve been able to work with Judy Gerber (proofreader) and Malcolm Jaggers (audiovisual engineer), and Story Realm features the contributions of author and storyteller John Clarke, author Ron Benty, and storytellers Jesika Troughton, Raff and Sylvia Gaudio, and Brittany Tilling.
The couple also hopes to encourage people in the community to become Story Realm ambassadors, helping find stories to populate the site, which may eventually branch out into other communities, with each having their own section.
And no matter how the site grows and develops, one thing will remain the same.
“The concept is that the stories entertain, educate and empower people on a personal level,” said Gary.