Exchanging stories for coffee

Proposing a constructive alternative to the wall between Czech and Romany residents which the city of Usti built last fall, the Stories Exchange Project put up a tent on the main square in Usti nad Labem with a large banner advertising this main project Web-site “WWW.STORIES-EXCHANGE.ORG” on its most visible side.
A hundred-odd Czech and Romany adults shared stories over coffee and sixty or so Czech and Romany children drew pictures in exchange for sweets.
Members of the Usti nad Labem team greeted visitors and explained the intentions and strategies of the project, and members of the teams in Prague, Ostrava and Brno joined them.
Three members of the Prague team who had recently returned from their story-gathering expedition to rural Slovakia presented photos and stories of Romany survivors of a devastating flood that had killed many of their children, parents and other relatives: the disaster a result of post-World War II Slovak policy of permitting Roma to live only in abandoned areas or on the banks of rivers.
This open, relaxed and friendly gathering of minority and majority citizens in a public space was unique in the history of the city and the nation, and there was strong media coverage.