Goodbye 2020! Reflecting On This Past Year? We Want To Hear! #OregonParkBenchStory

Park bench overlooking at the Painted Hills. Photo:

2020 is almost over – have you been reflecting on the ups and downs of this unusual year? We want to know.  The Oregon Made Creative Foundation, Soma Games, Willamette Writers, and Travel Oregon have come together to create the #OregonParkBenchStory – a storytelling generator to help us unpack  2020.

How to join #OregonParkBenchStory – December 28th onwards

1. Imagine yourself sitting on your favorite Oregon park bench – whether it’s near or far – and reflect on the past year.

2.Screen shot the template, choose a prompt (or if you would rather upload a photo of your own favorite park bench and use one of our prompts feel free to do so) and post to your public account on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

3.Include the hashtag #OregonParkBenchStory.

4. Use your caption to respond to one of the following writing prompts:

    • Knowing what you know now, what advice would you have given yourself for 2020?
    • What genre would you name your year in 2020?
    • If 2020 were a video game, what 3 items would you have prepared yourself with?
    • If 2020 were a book what would you call it?
    • What was your favorite unexpected adventure of 2020?
    • Engage with other responses to the #OregonParkBenchStory hashtag. You’re now part of the (unofficial) community.

For thousands of years, the tradition of storytelling has shaped cultures across the globe. The uniquely human tradition of storytelling is a powerful tool that connects across generations, cultures, and countries. Through the ages on every continent, people would gather in caves, in the desert and forests, on the savannah, and much later on village greens, in town markets and city green spaces – all coming together to talk and share. In more recent times, the humble park bench has become a familiar icon, a tangible place for all people to gather to think, talk, share, debate, complain, recite lore –to tell stories. As social media has evolved, storytelling has moved on-line, and in some ways moved away from a collective telling to a much more individual telling. ​ The #OregonParkBenchStory was created as a friendly prompt to bring us together as individual storytellers to create a larger shared experience that will describe our collective 2020.

Want to hone your story writing skills for video games? 

Video games are worlds where exploration of characters, circumstances, and conflict sit front and center just as they do in books and short stories. The craft and career of a games writer, although differing from other forms of media, is rooted in the fundamentals of compelling storytelling. With video games now arguably situated as the most influential form of media, writers would be amiss not to consider this industry as their chosen career path.

Soma Games and Willamette Writers have come together to offer a no-cost online workshop on Sunday, January 31, 2021, where participants will learn the ins and outs of game writing, and explore the words and worlds behind some of SOMA’s most popular games. You’ll hear from a panel of industry experts who will transport you into a space where your imagination is celebrated!

​After posting to join the #OregonParkBenchStory, you will receive a registration link to sign up for the workshop. Participation is on a first-come-first-served basis and available only to entrants 18 years of age and over. We can’t wait for you to join us!

Redwood Northwest kindly dedicated a bench to the #OregonParkBenchStory project

The #OregonParkBenchStory is dedicated to John Bergquist, one of Soma Games’ founders.  John passed away this summer.  John was described by Soma Games as, “a true man of God, a mentor to many, a storyteller, and an amazing friend. He made the world sweeter and brighter with his earnest, sincere spirit, his tender thoughtfulness, his fierce devotion to his family and friends, and the joy he shared easily and abundantly. He will be so deeply missed.”  John was an inspiration to work with, he was a natural storyteller who brought so much positivity, clarity, and clever ideas to the conversation.  He will be greatly missed by us all.  Redwood Northwest donated a beautiful park bench to this project. Redwood Northwest is a family-owned and operated manufacturer of picnic tables, garden beds and planters, benches, siding, and other redwood products and is located in Eugene, Oregon. The bench is dedicated to JB and his love of story.

Bench was donated by Redwood Northwest and dedicated to John Bergquist of Soma Games.



PictureWillamette Writers is a 501c3 nonprofit organization run by writers and dedicated to helping writers at all levels connect with their communities, develop their craft, and advance their careers. Each year, Willamette Writers celebrates their programming year with an annual conference the first weekend in August. The conference, and chapter meetings across the Pacific Northwest, are open to all writers. 

PictureSoma Games LLC is an indie video game developer located in Newberg, Oregon. We believe video games can be far more than time-wasters. Video games hold the potential to showcase beauty, reward adventure and excellence, and challenge thinking. Our goal is to passionately and dutifully craft the games that elevate humanity rather than waste it.

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