Constellation: Our DC Stories

District residents—old and new—are individuals with our own distinctly DC stories. Sharing these stories in community with our neighbors empowers us to find new meaning in our own experiences and to better understand each others’. As we create these connections, our unique lived experiences contribute to and become integral parts of something greater: Constellation. Placed side by side and in new configurations, our DC stories guide us towards and illuminate new impressions and understandings of the District.

Explore our stories, and consider contributing your own. Our stories reflect the ordinary and the extraordinary details of day-to-day life. They attest to our individual joys and triumphs, to our shared community celebrations. They illustrate single, fleeting moments and significant change in our lives. From our successes to our challenges, our changing neighborhoods, our neighborly disputes, and our memories, these are our distinctly DC stories. We want to listen to yours.

Constellation: Our DC Stories, a HumanitiesDC story-sharing initiative, invites all who live, work, play, or otherwise experience the District to share their DC story so that we may collectively acknowledge, engage, and uplift our neighbors’ stories. In partnership with organizations preserving DC history, we create a living record, collaborating with communities across DC to co-interpret these stories, aiming to reflect, inspire, educate, and seek justice.

Read our Frequently Asked Questions for submission recommendations and to learn more about the project. For additional information, email constellation@wdchumanities.org.

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Call for Stories: Voices from the Frontlines

Constellation will periodically call for submissions around specific themes. The intention of these calls is to elevate particular shared experiences widely affecting the District. Our first call is for stories which address current events—particularly the emotional, mental, and physical challenges DC residents have confronted over the last months, including the coronavirus pandemic, protests against racial injustice, and the presidential election and inauguration.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Constellation, a HumanitiesDC story-sharing initiative, invites all who live, work, play, or otherwise experience the District to share their DC story so that we may collectively acknowledge, engage, and uplift our neighbors’ stories. In partnership with organizations preserving DC history, we create a living record, collaborating with communities across DC to co-interpret these stories, aiming to reflect, inspire, educate, and seek justice.

Constellation began with the idea to collect our stories of 2020, but we realized a need to uplift DC stories beyond our struggle for racial justice and with coronavirus. We wanted to capture our highs alongside our lows and our joys and triumphs with our obstacles. We each individually experience the District, a city often at the center of a whirlwind of activity, in our own way, representing valuable and valid DC stories that should be acknowledged, engaged, and uplifted. It is imperative not only that we preserve the stories of our past, but to contemplate, in the present, important dialogues among residents. It is not enough just to collect stories. We must uplift each others’ lived experiences to seek justice and strive to make the District a more just place.

Constellation includes an ongoing, long-term collecting initiative as well as public programming and grants.

To contribute to the collecting initiative submit your story on our website. If you have questions about your story, how to submit, or the project in general, email us at constellation@wdchumanities.org.

It’s up to you to decide what to share with Constellation, but your story should in some way reflect your experiences of the District. From our successes to our challenges, our changing neighborhoods, our neighborly disputes, and our memories, we want you to share your distinct DC stories. Constellation encourages participants to honor all aspects of our lived experiences and to uplift our accompanying reflections, emotions, highs, and lows. Our stories reflect the ordinary and the extraordinary details of day-to-day life. They attest to our individual joys and triumphs, and our shared community celebrations. They illustrate single, fleeting moments and significant change in our lives.

How you tell your story is up to you—written, image(s), audio, and/or video. We encourage creative ways of storytelling including art, song, poetry, and whatever else you can imagine.

After you submit your story, we will conduct a quick review before posting your submission on the Constellation webpage alongside other contributions to the project. We will review all contributions for privacy concerns and may shorten some contributions for online publication, so your story may not be posted in full. We will contact you about changes and will save your submission in its entirety for the duration of the Constellation initiative. Some stories will be archived with HumanitiesDC’s partner organizations.

If you indicate an interest in further participation with Constellation, we may contact you to participate in additional public programming or a collaborative oral history project.

We will email you when your story is live on the Constellation webpage. We will also feature select stories on HumanitiesDC’s social media. If you provide your social media handle during submission, we will tag you.

No. We invite all individuals who live, work, play, or otherwise experience the District to contribute to Constellation. When providing your location (neighborhood, zip code, and/or ward), use the location most relevant to your submission.

For questions about submissions, you can email Constellation at constellation@wdchumanities.org.

Submission Recommendations:

IMAGES

Please submit images as: .jpg, .jpeg, or .png files.
We recommend making sure that images are clear. In the “Describe the contents of the uploaded file” section of the form, you should use descriptive language to explain what appears in the image.

The recommended file resolution for art is 300 DPI.

VIDEO

You can submit videos as .mp4 or .mov files, but .mp4 files are preferred. The maximum file size is 100MB. If your file is larger, please compress it before submitting. You may also submit a link to your video hosted on Vimeo.

Your video contribution can be of anything you choose! It can be of your day-to-day or it could capture a moment or an event over the last months.

You can also submit a video of yourself telling your story. Constellation will feature select video submissions in short video clips. For your video to be considered for and featured in these clips, please follow these guidelines:

Technical Specs, Tips and Tricks for Video Submissions:

  • Video submissions should be no longer than 7 minutes.
  • Please upload video submissions as .mp4 or .mov.
  • Using a computer is preferable to a phone. If that’s not possible mute all notifications on your phone and hold the phone in landscape mode.
  • Pick your location wisely, a quiet place without distractions. Try a smaller space with soft surroundings to cut down the echo.
  • You might not love the look of headphones, but try them out. They can help with sound quality and cutting out background noise.
  • Lighting. Natural lighting is great, if possible. Whether you’re using natural or artificial light make sure it is positioned behind the computer and shining on your face, not behind you.
  • Find your angle. Raising the camera slightly above your eye-line and angling downwards. If you don’t have a dedicated computer stand feel free to get creative. Try stacking books, boxes, or even an old popcorn bucket.

AUDIO

You can submit audios as .mp3 or .wav files.

Technical Specs, Tips and Tricks for Audio Submissions:

  • Audio submissions should be no longer than 7 minutes.
  • Pick a location good for sound quality.
  • Listen back to your story to ensure spoken words are clear.
  • Background sounds, particularly when relevant to your story are welcome.

WRITTEN

It’s up to you, but we encourage participants to consider brevity and keep readers in mind. Some of the most compelling stories are short. We suggest you aim for 100-500 words, but there are no limitations.

Your story may not be posted in full. We will review all contributions for privacy concerns and may shorten some contributions for online publication. We will save the entirety of your submitted story, and we will contact you about significant changes. Stories shared to social media may also be condensed.

Submit Your Story