A single story inspired us on our path to use the power of storytelling for healing community memory. Magnify the power of #GivingTuesday today for amplifying community voices.



Nine years ago, a visitor to an installation I made about the disappearance of the Chinese from the Boise Basin casually mentioned that he heard there had once been a Chinese acupuncturist in the backwoods of 19th century Idaho; surprised, I asked him what happened to the man. “Don’t know,” was the reply. “They went away.”

Chinese Whispers was born that day in modern-day Sun Valley. I was both fascinated and perplexed by how a whole group of human beings could just be forgotten, and how a sliver of second-hand story still holds the power of personal memory. What followed has been a rich journey into the reservoirs of community memories that have been overlooked, neglected, or obscured, about the history and experience of the Chinese who helped build the American West. What we learned on that journey is that every story is like a grain of rice: together, stories nourish our community memory. And that is why we have been so dedicated to giving voice to community stories.

I feel honored and touched to be entrusted with so many stories by the numerous community members we have engaged with, from the Sierra Nevada to the SF Bay. For the last four years we have been gathering stories about the Bay Area, and sharing them in community events like our Lunar New Year celebrations, Story Tour, and immigrant storytelling workshops. Now, we are very excited to bring them to light in our flagship storytelling theater production, Chinese Whispers: Golden Gate.

Set to premiere in Spring 2015, it will feature compelling stories handed down over generations, together with parallel stories from immigrants in San Francisco Chinatown today. Multi-generational community members will be the ones on stage recounting the stories, and their storytelling will be buoyed by a custom soundscape by sound artist Jeremiah Moore, and new multimedia design. This will be a truly memorable experience for audiences and community participants alike.

Please join me in launching this unique synthesis of history, storytelling, and art, and help amplify community voices. In the remaining hours today, Tuesday, December 2, ramp up your donation power to amplify our Indiegogo campaign, so we can put Chinese Whispers: Golden Gate on stage with the artistic and production quality these forgotten stories deserve.

PLEASE GIVE GENEROUSLY, and please spread the word about our campaign. For more information please visit:

Thank you,

Rene Yung
Artistic and Founding Director
Chinese Whispers


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Chinese WhispersSM is a research and community storytelling project about the Chinese who helped build the railroads, mines, and settlements of the American West. It includes place-based multimedia productions that engage local communities in recounting local stories, innovative public engagement programming, and development of an interactive online mapping platform that brings together research, geography, and storytelling. Visit for more information.

Chinese WhispersSM  is supported in part by the Creative Work Fund, California Council for the Humanities, San Francisco Foundation, San Francisco Arts Commission, Center for Cultural Innovation, and individual donors like you.

CW Partners include the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, San Francisco Chinatown YMCA, Center for Sierra Nevada Studies, Chinese Historical Society of America, Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation, Shaping San Francisco, Friends of China Camp, OpenShow, & Placer Arts Council, with special thanks to Malcom Margolin and Heyday. Chinese WhispersSM is a member of the Intersection Incubator, a program of Intersection for the Arts providing fiscal sponsorship, incubation and consulting services to artists. 

Copyright © 2014 Rene Yung, All rights reserved.