How it Works

One day on the Relay…

(Relay No. 1) Landscapes

Each morning Relay will begin the physical journey from one town to the next. The roughly marathon’s distance will be approached as a relay composed of surrogate walkers, runners, cyclists, and paddlers from neighboring river communities. When no regional surrogates step in to carry the voices downriver, Victoria Bradford Styrbicki will approach the distance as a duathlon—a run out of town, cycling the longer stretch between, followed by a run into the next town. The Relay support van will keep close contact with the walkers, runners, and cyclists for navigation and safety.

Styrbicki and the relay team members will “gather the landscape” making observations with their senses as well as with GPS body cameras mounted to their torsos. This landscape data will be used in mapping analyis by the Water Institute of the Gulf as well as shared at the storytelling event held in each town upon Relay's arrival.

(Relay No. 2) Interactions

Each afternoon through one-on-one interactions with up to six local residents in the arrival town, Relay will “gather the voices” of that community. For several hours that day, the local hosts will invite Styrbicki to observe their everyday lives, witnessing how they are moved by the environment around them and the issues and concerns they face each day. Styrbicki may find opportunities to participate in activities that are a part of their local host’s day, as well as enter into conversation about general and specific topics.

The intention behind using this embedded method is to truly place the voice, or story, of the individual in the location they are in, and to get passed the programmed narratives we all tell. By building familiarity and relationships through art, Artistic Director Victoria Bradford Styrbicki believes you can create a greater opportunity to affect change and make an impact.

As Styrbicki spends time with each local host, gathering their voices, she will use a practice of “whole body listening” to make observations. This story data will also be used in mapping analyis by the Water Institute of the Gulf as well as in the community storytelling events presented that day and subsequent days along the River.


(Relay No. 3) Relaying Voices

Each evening the actual “relay of voices” will take place in each community, taking shape slightly different from one town to the next. These performance events are framed as gatherings, featuring the “six voices” of the local community as well as the accumulation of the voices from communities before.

The intention of the event is threefold: to “relay” to the local citizens what has been learned from upriver, to “relay” to them what was witnessed that day in their own community, and to invite them to “relay” their own stories and insights on the connectedness between what came before and what is present in their own voices and landscape.

Styrbicki is using each day on the River as a mobile studio space, traversing the landscape, absorbing and processing the voices of the river. She sees Relay as an opportunity to collaborate with the local residents to develop a storytelling framework that is modular and scalable, working together to leave behind some lasting value in each community.