Lost in Books (LiB) is a multilingual bookshop and creative learning hub in Fairfield (Sydney) with a track record of public programs which engage participants from a range of multicultural and multi-faith backgrounds, particularly women and children from recent migrant and refugee families. 'Forked Tongues' is a program run through LiB, where women from the community are trained as bilingual storytellers and arts facilitators.
Led by Zoë Sadokierski (UTS/Urban Field Naturalist Project), Jane Stratton (Think+Do Tank/LiB) and Afaf Al-Shammari (LiB), this collaboration aims to connect multicultural communities to plants and animals around them, through creative storytelling activities. These activities – packaged together as a workshop kit – aim to foster connection to urban nature, as well as a sense of cultural identity and belonging to place.
Over two half-day creative development workshops which involved observation walks, story sharing activities and creative play, Zoë co-designed the series of activities with a group of 12 women from the LiB 'forked tongues' storytelling collective. The activities are highly visual and craft-driven to meet the needs of language-diverse participants.
The project was awarded a small Multicultural NSW events grant, which provided financial support to pay the LiB community members, including translation of the workshop into Vietnamese and Arabic. The grant was initially given for a series of live storytelling workshops based at Fairfield Park and the LiB creative hub, however we needed to pivot to an online resource when the 2021 lockdowns, particularly severely imposed on the Fairfield LGA, prevented public gatherings. The online workshop is available to download for free as a PDF via the LiB site, or to order as a 'kit' with notebook, magnifying glass and pencils. We are now working on the workshop being delivered live as part of LiB's ongoing community events programming, run by women who participated in the co-design process.