Hear Here, Walla Walla


HEAR HERE WALLA WALLA  is a phone storyline and website that maps my community of Walla Walla, WA through some stories of immigrants and first generation Walla Walla residents. Artists Jessica Cerullo, Eric John Olson and I conceived this project in collaboration with members of the Walla Walla Immigrant Rights Coalition as a means to share stories which, for reasons of anonymity or a lack of platform, have not been heard within the community at large.

Over September and October 2018, a group of artists and Whitman College students interviewed Latinx community members (and one German), ages 18-65, around Walla Walla about their lives. Through these interviews and participatory research, we learned that there is a lack of a public record of Mexican-American migration and history in the area. To share and record these oral histories, we set up a phone line that anyone could call, and hear excerpts from the interviews or leave messages with their own story.

We invite you pick up your phone and see what is on the line from and for our neighbors in Walla Walla. By pressing the numbers on your keypad you can navigate through the topics of Belonging, Exclusion, Courage, Invisibility, Change, Tradition, Legacy, Sunrise and the ultimate question—if you knew you would be heard, is there one last thing you would like to say.


Conceived and Ideated with Jessica Cerullo & Eric John Olson
Co-Author Interviewees: Amanda, Ana, Fernando, Leon, Luis Mendez, Luna, Mariela Rosas, Paco, Sandy Garcia, Ursula Volwiler
Co-author Producers: Jessica Cerullo, Emma Cooper, Francisco Esquivel, Maddy Gold, Erina Horikawa, Tia Kramer, Evan Marks, Donovan Olsen, Sabina Rogers, Dani Schlenker, Mira Skladany

Voice Actors utilized (in some instances) to re-record interview segments: Ynez Vargas, Larry Miller, Carlos Vargas Salgado, Maddy Gold
Spanish translation: Ynez Vargas, and Larry Miller 
Web Design: David Schulz
Sound Design & Technologist: Eric John Olson
Musicians: Gary Grundei, Erina Horikawa and Maddy Gold
Word Smith: Kisha Schlegal
Listening booth designed by David Schulz, Tia Kramer & Jessica Cerullo with core concept work by Eric John Olson & Tia Kramer

For this project, I had relational meetings with more than 35 community members to learn about the impact of national immigration policy on our intimate town. I then worked closely with my collaborators, the Whitman students and a local Latinx community member to conduct practice interviews, identify interview questions and I paired each interviewer and interviewees. Together participants (including ideator and sound designer, Eric John Olson) identified themes that emerged through all 10 community interviews and identified excerpts to be featured in the story line. All of our interviewees were bilingual or multilingual; all but one interview were conducted in English, the Spanish interview was translated. For reasons of anonymity many interview segments were re-recorded using local voice actors.

HEAR HERE WALLA WALLA is a project co-created by the Whitman College Department of Theater and Dance's Devised Theater course in collaboration with members of the Walla Walla Immigrant Rights Coalition as well as immigrants in our community. This work is sponsored by the Whitman College Innovation in Teaching and Learning fund and the Andrew W Mellon Foundation, diversifying the curriculum through community engagement.

The HEAR HERE WALLA WALLA listening booth will be touring Walla Walla and Eastern Washington in Spring, 2019.

To learn more about this project and it’s partner project, Because You Are Here, peruse the following articles:

Acting And Activism: Whitman College Play Explores Community Impact Of Immigration by T.J. Tranchell,
Northwest Public Broadcasting
Turning Curiosity Into Action by Afrika Brown, Whitman College
’Hear Here, Walla Walla’ worthy of attention by Paul Kwon, published in the Walla Walla Union Bulletin

Photographs below taken by Jonathan Vanderweit (©2018) at the debut performance, BECAUSE YOU ARE HERE, a play at Whitman’s Harper Joy Theatre based on the interviews featured in the story line.