On Oct. 14, Something Monday – our weekly, casual, social, informational bike ride – goes part-digital with a tour led by a mobile phone application, wabiStory, and its creator, Ben Judson, local web developer, writer, and community developer.
Join us and our partners at B-cycle for a chance to see San Antonio through an artist’s’ lens. (Click here to view Facebook event page.)
wabiStory connects users to place-based storytelling all over the city’s center. Judson’s curated collection of storytellers include artists, writers, poets and musicians who have traveled to specific locations around the city to record their work that is either about or inspired by that very spot.
But you can’t listen to them at home.
By downloading the app for iPhones or launching it via its website (wabiStory.org) for Android smart phones, you can hear an introduction to wabiStory and various participating artists from anywhere in the world (navigate to “Near Me” and select “The World”). However, in order to unlock stories you must be within about 50 feet of where the artist recorded their work.
The app, of course, pulls up addresses and maps of all locations, and the new version – which may be released in time for our ride on Monday – will automatically pull up the appropriate story once a user is within range (among other usability updates).
“(wabiStory) directly connects people to unique places through the artist’s perspective,” said Judson during his presentation to the crowd gathered for the July Awesome SA grant award ceremony at The Richter Co. Judson won the $1,000 grant after a previous attempt and has used the money to assist contributors and develop the app’s upgrade.
More than 30 90-second stories have been scattered around the city in places typically off the beaten path of tourists and visitors. Instead, these are places where connections and inspiration can be found in everyday life and have been found by locals.
Lucky’s Food Mart downtown and other businesses with “luck” in the title are featured throughout the work of local artist and photographer Mark Menjivar‘s project, The Luck Archive, “a collection of objects, photographs and stories that use luck as a starting point to explore belief, culture, superstition and tradition.”
This manifests in advice people give for good luck, pictures of lucky objects, videos, and now audio from different “lucky” businesses downtown.
Local musician Nicolette Good has recently completed recordings of original songs and sounds on the Mission Reach (we’ll be listening to her piece composed under the 9th Street bridge on Monday). Place-inspired short story excerpts from local author Andrew Porter can be found throughout Southtown. Poetry from Judson explores the public and historic space at San Pedro Springs.
The app is named for the Japanese term, wabi-sabi. Wikipedia will tell you: “(it) represents a comprehensive Japanese world view or aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection … Characteristics of the wabi-sabi aesthetic include asymmetry, asperity (roughness or irregularity), simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy and appreciation of the ingenuous integrity of natural objects and processes.”
Judson explained: “It’s basically imperfect perfection.”
Those interested in creatively or monetarily supporting wabiStory, contact Judson via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’ll meet at the San Antonio B-cycle station across from the Liberty Bar at 1111 S. Alamo St. at 6:15 p.m. and depart at 6:30 p.m. sharp to listen to a story at Madhatters Tea House and Café. I’ll bring a small, portable speaker with which to broadcast audio to the group. However, you’re welcome to download the app and tinker with it while we do so.
From there, we’ll hit up Madison apartments, the Arsenal Street bridge and make our way north on Flores Street to Main Plaza and nearby Lucky’s Food Mart. After a B-cycle recharge, if needed, we’ll wind our way through downtown and continue north to the 9th Street Bridge. Our ride will conclude by listening to a story at The Friendly Spot – a perfect place to end up for a drink and conversation with new friends.
We’re estimating the round-trip to take about an hour and a half and expect it to be dark by then. Please bring along your front and rear bike lights – a head lamp works wonders too – to comply with the local ordinance. We’ll be making lots of stops along the way, so we’ll ask you to huddle close to our portable speaker to avoid standing in the street while listening to stories. Helmets, as usual, are encouraged but not required (I know, I know, I need one myself).
Bring a friend and a phone and we’ll see you on Monday.