Beneath Our Skin is a COVID 19 vaccination storytelling project gathers and shares Vermonters' stories about their COVID 19 vaccination experiences. The goal of the project is to help build a shared understanding of needs and perceptions related to improving COVID 19 vaccination access and uptake, especially among Vermonters who identify as Black and of African descent. The project also helps to gather insights into how race may influence attitudes, perceptions and care-giving behaviors of health care providers involved in delivering COVID-19 vaccinations. Beneath Our Skin is led by Clemmons Family Farm, Inc.- an African-American-led nonprofit organization whose mission and niche expertise includes working with Vermont’s Black artists and integrating the arts and storytelling into public health, K12 education, agriculture, conservation, and community building.
We use storytelling methods that are sometimes integrated with performing arts or visual arts to help people share their COVID 19 vaccination experiences.
The Beneath Our Skin story collections
Since October 2021, Clemmons Family Farm has been gathering Vermonters' stories about their COVID 19 vaccination experiences. The story collections include the stories of Black Vermonters who are fully vaccinated, partially vaccinated, or not at all vaccinated against COVID-19. There are also stories of Vermont providers who have administered the COVID 19 vaccinations to Black Vermonters.
Project participants are recruited from different counties around the state of Vermont and opt into either a storytelling session using performing arts (singing, music, poetry) or visual arts (drawing, coloring or collage). The collections in this website are from participants who gave their informed consent for us to share their stories and artwork with the Vermont Department of Health for public sharing.
There are three collections of Beneath Our Skin COVID 19 vaccination stories:
1-Arts-Integrated Stories from Chittenden County: Sixteen stories from Black Vermonters and Vermont providers who have given the COVID 19 vaccination to clients who are Black Vermonters. Most of the storytellers in this collection integrated visual arts, poems or songs to help them share their feelings and experiences, using an arts- integrated storytelling methodology developed by Clemmons Family Farm.
2-Call-in stories: Eight stories from Black Vermonters who called into the Beneath Our Skin stortyelling call-in line and shared their stories over the phone with a trained faciliator.
3-VAAADAN members' stories: A collection of stories gathered from artists who are members of the Vermont African-American/African Diaspora Artists Network (VAAADAN) and who reside in Vermont counties outside of Chittenden county. This collection is still in progress.
The Beneath Our Skin COVID-19 vaccination storytelling sessions are being conducted by Clemmons Family Farm between October 2021 and December 2022. All storytelling sessions are facilitated by Clemmons Family Farm's staff and trained collaborating artists who provide prompts to help participants to share their stories and create art.
How to use the Beneath Our Skin story collections
1. Click on the word "collections" at the top left of your screen.
2. Select the collection of stories you would like to hear.
3. Choose a story and listen! Many of the stories in the collection include two or more media files: (1) the story itself, (2) a poem or song created by the storytellers to share more information about their stories; and (3) the storytellers' responses to prompts from a trained facilitator to help the storyteller provide additional information about the story.
4. If you would like to read the transcript of the audio-recorded stories, look to the right of the audio recording and you'll see the word "Transcript". Click on "Transcript" and the full verbatim transcription of the audio will appear. You can also select "Auto-Scroll" above the transcription and the written words that are being spoken in the audio-recording will be highlighted and will scroll down automatically as the audio progresses. Please note that some of the written transcriptions of the stories are still being produced. They will be uploaded as soon as they are ready.
5. Many storytellers also created visual artwork to share more information about their stories.
The stories, poems, and visual artwork created by Beneath Our Skin storytelling participants will be on exhibit in several venues around the state of Vermont from March - May 2023.
The Beneath Our Skin COVID 19 vaccination storytelling project is funded by the Vermont Department of Health.