The award-winning “Hear, Here” walking tours of downtown La Crosse will celebrate the addition of its 17 final stories from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 28, with the one-hour treks beginning every 15 minutes at the Downtown Main Street office at 500 Main St.
The new stories include narratives from the perspectives of Ho-Chunk Nation members, as well as Hmong, African-Americans, Latinos, members of the LGBTQ community and people who have experienced homelessness.
The free event, “Last Cheer of ‘Hear, Here:’ A Celebration of New Stories,” will showcase the audio recordings of oral histories that can be accessed by dialing a toll-free number at orange street signs.
After opening remarks at 11:15 a.m., eight different tours will start at staggered times. Food and coffee from Jules Coffee House will be available.
The tour schedule is:
11:30 a.m.: Ho-Chunk monuments
11:45 a.m.: La Crosse racial injustice
Noon: The purpose of a park
12:15 p.m.: Lost architecture
12:30 p.m.: LGBTQ in La Crosse
12:45 p.m.: Bar culture
1 p.m.: Red light La Crosse
1:15 p.m.: Protests in La Crosse
Hear, Here began in 2014 as a project in one of associate professor Ariel Beaujot’s history classes at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Students in Beaujot’s spring semester class, “ ‘Hear, Here’: Public History in Theory and Practice,” recorded, edited and added the new stories.
Participants in the event, a partnership among UW-L, the La Crosse Public Library Archives and DMI, should bring cellphones to hear the stories.
Collecting stories from underrepresented groups takes “understanding of your own humility,” said Olivia Hoff, a UW-L senior and public and policy history major in the class.
“These people of underrepresented groups share their stories with us with complete vulnerability,” she said. “I, as the interviewer, have to be willing to set aside my own perspective to completely engulf myself in their experience. This project has taught me that empathy is one of the most powerful emotions that can lead to greater change.”
Hoff, who hopes to become a museum curator, said, “ ‘Hear, Here’ has helped further my goal of working in a museum that piques the public’s interest in history.”
Some of the “Hear, Here” walking tours will be added to the long-standing La Crosse Public Library Archives Footsteps of La Crosse Tours, a series of tours by foot and bus highlighting historic and architecturally significant residences and buildings in La Crosse
The spring Footsteps of La Crosse walking tours are scheduled for April 24 and May 1, 8 and 15. Registration and more information are available at the Footsteps website.
The fall tours, on Sept. 4, 11, 18 and 25, will include downtown, UW-L and the Mayo-Franciscan Neighborhood and a bus tour of the North Side, respectively.
“Hear, Here” also will launch new K-12 programming on its website.
UW-L senior Sara Krueger developed the interactive, student-centered lesson plans for eighth-grade teachers who use “Hear, Here” stories to teach La Crosse history.
Krueger also will develop similar material for high-school students. Calli Niemi, a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, is creating lesson plans for fourth-grade students.