Virtual Humanity is The Human Library’s digital initiative that uses the simplicity of stories to communicate the diverse experiences of every community. Listeners can meet storytellers one-on-one through Zoom to hear their real-life stories in the hopes of challenging their own beliefs and gaining new perspectives. Carefully selected by curators, who help to develop and expand these stories, listeners and storytellers alike get to bridge their differences through meaningful dialogue.
Two-Spirit is an identity used by Indigenous communities to refer to a person who identifies with both a masculine and feminine spirit. You may recognize this term from the “2S” in 2SLGBTQIA+. Indigiqueer is used to represent both a person’s Indigenous and Queer identities.
The Ubyssey spoke to producer Jordy Matheson to get a glimpse into Virtual Humanity’s latest installment.
A playwright, performer and current UBC student in the theatre studies program, Matheson has had original work featured in international performing arts festivals and is actively involved in the Vancouver improv community. His recent projects include tied elements of theatre performance and community outreach — both key to Virtual Humanity’s goals.
Matheson got his start with The Human Library’s storytelling platform as an assistant in 2014 before moving into more curatorial roles. He has been the producer of Virtual Humanity for the past three years. As such, he’s been connecting and directing the many components of production to ensure that its storytellers can comfortably take the stage.
This year’s intentional focus came from the desire to amplify Indigenous voices, which were always minorities in previous iterations of the event. Indigenous curators and storytellers, such as Raven John who helped create the title, collaborated and guided the project along with the production team to proudly bring Virtual Humanity: Two-Spirit & Indigiqueer Futures to life.
In particular, Matheson was able to witness the “broadness, expansiveness and inclusivity” of these vibrant communities. He adds that, as a settler himself, “it’s a real, valuable learning experience of just listening and being malleable and changeable in how I lead, how I organize and communicate [my thoughts].”
Virtual Humanity: Two-Spirit & Indigiqueer Futures runs on November 27, November 28, December 4 and December 5 from 1–4 p.m. each day. Tickets are on sale now! True to Virtual Humanity’s spontaneity, listeners only get to choose their storytellers on the day of their choice. Thus the event has a multi-step process that we’ve broken down for you to get your tickets with ease!
- Purchase a $10 day pass ticket for your chosen day by creating an account on WeShowUp, Zee Zee’s ticketing platform.
- With your confirmation email at 10 a.m. on the day of your event, follow the provided link to sign up for the storytellers who intrigue you the most. (Reserving at least two storytellers is recommended.)
- At your booked time (no earlier, no later), join the Virtual Humanity Zoom Meeting and get connected with your storyteller. You will use the same link for every storyteller you choose and sessions will be about 20 minutes.
- “Pay what it’s worth.” Zee Zee has priced tickets with accessibility in mind. Thus, following the event, participants will receive an email prompting them to donate according to their experience. Supporting the storytellers and thanking them for their emotional labour and vulnerability is encouraged.
Students, in particular, have an edge to actively contribute to their education and go beyond what they already know. While learning to communicate, have empathy and think critically can be challenging when hearing stories that are unfamiliar and difficult, we’re no better off “burying our head in the sand,” as Matheson puts it.
“The only way for us to build a positive future is to come from a place of knowledge and understanding,” said Matheson.
For more details, check out Zee Zee’s event page or contact email@example.com.