Ex Fabula’s StorySlam Takes Us to the Water to Support a New Milwaukee App

Feb. 15, 2017
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This coming Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., Ex Fabula will hold their first StorySlam of the 2017 season, at Lakefront Brewery (1872 N. Commerce Street). The theme of the show is “water,” a topic that will undoubtedly inspire a number of tales related to Milwaukee’s many rivers and streams and its miles of Lake Michigan shoreline. But the evening will also see the debut of Water Story MKE, a new place-based app game that, like Ex Fabula, seeks to build community through story telling.

Developed by Reflo, a local water sustainability nonprofit, and Michael Timm, a Milwaukee writer and game developer, Water Story MKE is probably best described as a more substantive version of Pokémon Go. Users of the app (which is free, see here for how to try it out) travel along Milwaukee’s waterways to find games, unlock theme treks or secret areas, and hear stories about Milwaukee’s relationship and history with the waterways. Users will also be able to add their own stories to the map for others to discover and participate in a digital “leader board” by visiting designated sites.

The app is still in the pilot phase, but the Bradford Beach and Lakefront Brewery legs of the map have been tested and will be ready to go for the StorySlam. Three other sites, Cream City Farms in the 30th Street Corridor, the Brewery Neighborhood, and the Lakefront Flushing Station, are also in development, as are five “cross-city treks” that guide users through a variety of water sites and themes. Timm said he also hopes to incorporate stories from next week’s StorySlam into the app. This is all leading up to the official launch of Water Story MKE, scheduled for July 22, that will feature a citywide scavenger hunt that Timm is calling, “The Great Water Race.”

Even if you can’t make onstage next week, there are still ways to get involved with Water Story MKE. “If anyone has a water story they would like to share in a short video interview, or historical photos of interesting Milwaukee water places, we are interested in broadening the voices, places, and perspectives included in the game,” Timm told Around MKE. “The experience is all about revealing the value that's hidden in plain sight, and we are open to new stories.” Timm also encourages anyone with a group or classroom that would like to give the app a test-run to contact him and Reflo with comments, feedback, or to arrange a fieldtrip. “If anyone has suggestions for future sites, stories, or features to add to the app, we’d also love to hear them.”

To get the app, learn more, or provide feedback, visit Water Story MKE’s website. To contact Michael Timm, visit his website. To get tickets to next week’s StorySlam, visit their website


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