Tales from Christchurch residents

18:24, Mar 23 2014

Got a story that just has to be told?

Meet Alex Highet, a 23-year-old half Kiwi with an American accent who is launching a public speaking event called Storytime for Christchurch next month.

Four speakers will get 15 minutes each to tell a story, whatever it might be.

"Everybody has a story to tell," Highet said.

The theme of the first session is "Why I'm in Christchurch" and Highet hopes for speakers who are engaged with the rebuild and recent arrivals or long-loyal Cantabrians.

A second session hasn't been planned yet but she hopes the event becomes regular.


"Storytime has the unique potential to bring people from all parts of Christchurch and Canterbury together," she said.

"It's a place where people can come together for 60 minutes of Storytime and sharing and connection."

Highet lived in Wellington until she was three, Melbourne until she was 13 and the US eastern seaboard until recently.

She's come to Christchurch on a four-month OE - although she'd never heard of "overseas experience" in the Kiwi sense.

Highet came across Storytime during her years at Williams College, a small, liberal arts university in rural Massachusetts. She joined the committee and kept it running and autonomous.

The Sunday night events attracted audiences of 20 to 100 people and sometimes featured themes - love stories, coming of age stories - but more often simple, good stories.

A retiring professor spoke nostalgically about his time at the college and once Storytime became an impromptu remembrance for a deceased student.

Highet's favourite Storytime was about a student who spent six hours wandering Detroit and how he decided to stop pursuing an MBA and take up theatre.

Walking Christchurch streets recently, Highet saw that Storytime could flourish here. She talked the Ministry of Awesome into becoming a sponsor.

Highet remembers old Christchurch - the fudge and teddy bear shops, the trams - from visits here as a child. "It's like coming back to a childhood memory that's gone bad," she said.

The date and venue for Storytime will be announced on the Ministry of Awesome website.

The Press