Following a rapid process of interviewing and gathering stories from St. James area residents, Uniting Cultures’ book “Your Story, My Story, Our Story” will be distributed at the Watonwan County Library on Sunday, January 13th at 2 p.m.

The project was given a jump start thanks to a $7,300 grant from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. Interviews started in August.

In total, there are 39 stories told in the book, ranging from first-generation residents of the area to fourth generation Americans.

The stories range from those of young adults to senior citizens, from all types of cultures, including various countries within Latin America, as well as northern European countries.

“We are hoping to intrigue people to find out who they are,” said Branstad. “Not everyone’s story is in here, but everyone has a story.”

The book was coordinated by members of Uniting Cultures, including Pat Branstad, who got an idea for the book while talking to a coworker while teaching in the Twin Cities a decade ago.

Branstad and Sandy Sunde’s stories are included in a forward in the book.

750 books will be distributed for those who attend the event. Additional copies of the book will be available free of charge at the library. On January 23rd, Uniting Cultures will host three conversation groups to encourage people to talk about their thoughts on the book. The first discussion will be at 9 am. at Homestead Cooperative. The next will be at 2 p.m. at Encore Cafe. The final meeting will be at 7 p.m. at the Watonwan County Library.

Uniting Cultures/Uniendo Culturas extends a sincere thank you to the following:

Minnesota Humanities Center and the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund for financial support, St. James Public School District 840, Watonwan County Public Library, and St. James Chamber of Commerce for promotional and in-kind support.

Shawna Asendorf, Pat Branstad, Glenda Becthold, Paul Harris, Teresa Hernandez, BJ Johnson, Mariah Krusemark, Anne Olsen, Marilyn Mueller, Silvia Solorzano, Sandy Sunde, and Jane Wolle for arranging and conducting interviews, assisting with translation, writing and editing stories and taking photographs.

Linda Buller, Joe McCabe and Jeanne Schuett for video recording assistance. Community Members who shared their stores in oral interviews or written submissions assisted with informal and formal story translations, and are making audio recordings of the stories.

This work is funded in part with money from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund that was created with the vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008.