2021 #YearOfTroublemaking

Tiny Stories Vending

Join a project to connect strangers by dispensing tiny stories — straight out of a vending machine

As part of the Compassionate Troublemaking plan to make 2021 the ‘Year Of Troublemaking’, we want to spotlight amazing mischief-makers and their wonderful forms of disruption. We kick off with Coralie Oddy-Propsting and her ‘Tiny Stories’ Vending Machine.

Photo by Lisheng Chang on Unsplash

As a new lockdown beckoned, I decided to put into action a collaborative art project I had been thinking about for years. The goal: to transform a small snack vending machine into one which dispenses ‘tiny stories’ in the form of different, beautiful pieces of artwork from a range of creative storytellers. The vending machine will spend time installed in a variety of locations with money paid into the vending machine being donated to book and storytelling charities still to be determined.

The project has several aims:

My vending machine — ready to fix up and transform!

To challenge our ideas about the accessibility of art.

Do we have enough opportunities to discover and enjoy art within our daily lives? And what happens when we provide an opportunity for this? I love the idea of something as mundane as a vending machine - which normally gives us commonplace, throwaway goods — dispensing something precious, unique and joyful. Stories are an art form, and they are everywhere. It’s just sometimes we don’t know where to look for them, or if we are allowed to ask others for theirs.

To explore how intensely and intimately strangers can connect through sharing and receiving stories.

We are all going through a difficult time right now — a time in which we are all particularly isolated. I want to give people an opportunity to put a little piece of themselves out into the world and be able to touch another person with their own Tiny Story. Not through a screen, but a small, exciting discovery out in the real world.

A couple of Tiny Story examples…

To make art and storytelling more accessible to all.

I very strongly believe that everyone can be an artist, and certainly that everyone is a Storyteller. What constitutes a Tiny Story is open to the Storytellers’ interpretation. A Tiny Story could be a poem, confession, love letter, tiny fiction piece, tiny essay, interesting list or anecdote. Stories also do not have to be written words — they can be pictures or comic strips, sound or video clips stored on a memory card, or tiny objects.

The project is open to anyone, of any age, and any artistic ability. Storytellers are encouraged to present their Tiny Story in their own way. The story could be illustrated, include tiny ‘props’, have multisensory elements or take the form of a tiny scroll, envelope, book, message in a bottle… anything. The aim is to have fun creating something which a stranger would be excited to receive.

How you can get involved

I would love to share this journey with you and for you to submit a Tiny Story for the Vending Machine. If you are an individual who wants to take part, that’s wonderful. If you have a group interested in taking on a project together, that’s fantastic. I can receive any number of Tiny Stories.

I would also love to hear from anyone who has a public or community space that they would like the Tiny Stories Vending Machine to visit.

For more information on taking part in either of these ways, please contact tinystoriesvending@gmail.com.

For now, I will be collecting Tiny Stories and working on fixing up my vending machine. I can’t wait to see how far telling Tiny Stories will take us.

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Coralie Oddy-Propsting

Coralie Oddy-Propsting

Exploring art, activism, adventure and radical compassion, while finding my way as a parent and person