Our Discord – Video & Text Chats

We have a Discord Server open to anyone who wants to informally chat about storytelling and different aspects of it. See the schedule and upcoming topics below.

We have archived talking points from these regular chats that started July 6, 2020. Let us know if you have a topic or project you want to discuss or explore that involves being a storyteller or storytelling by emailing info@storycrossroads.org.

Free, open to all, click this direct Discord invite: https://discord.gg/KfwNK7Z

5-Part Blog Series: How Best to Use the Story Crossroads Discord Server

Video on Setting Up on Phone & Computer & Tips

Next Discord Topics with Date/Times:

Endings – Or is it? (how to know when to set aside stories/projects/organizations) – Friday, September 1, 2023 at Noon Mountain / 2pm Eastern

We will hold the last regular video chat one on September 1, 2023.

Resources will still be available on Discord.

Talking Points of Past Video Chats (current on top)

While notes are forthcoming (yes, a little behind), our Discord has text channels with references and links with each monthly topic. Reach out to info@storycrossroads.org if you need guidance.
Finding New Audiences for Storytelling: Facebook – April 1, 2022
  • Notes coming
Healing Stories for a Hurting World (and understanding Narrative Therapy better) – March 4, 2022
  • Article to Assist: Article on how Narrative Therapy works by Jodi Clarke, MA, LPC/MHSP here.
  • Referenced Materials: Blog post – “The most beautiful folktales from Ukraine” gathered by Csenge Zalka; Blog post – “Don’t stop believing, just keep swimming: Folktales for dark times” gathered by Csenge Zalka; Article on Kintsugi art form mentioned by Kristin Pedemonti; TED Talk video – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: The danger of a single story; Books recommended by Kristin Pedemonti – “Narrative Therapy in Wonderland: Connecting with Children’s Imaginative Know-How” by David Marsten, David Epston, and Laurie Markham and “What is Narrative Therapy?: An easy-to-read introduction” by Alice Morgan.
  • Referenced Person: Kristen Pedemonti was a special guest, which is unusual for our informal chats. She recently graduated with a Master of Narrative Therapy and Community Work with Honors.
  • General Advice:
    • We often have problem-saturated stories and only talk about the problem as if it’s a deficiency. Narrative therapy looks more at how that problem came about and the influences behind it. What is appropriate and not appropriate in that family? Culture? Society? Gender norms/roles? Politics? Religion? So much more.
    • How did that story come about of what you tell yourself? That was a story placed on you? What is your preferred/hoped-for story? Can or will you re-author your story?
    • We talked about various topics including children of different abilities and how parents can re-imagine checklists and milestones such as, “When I hug my child, I feel them press into me.” Other people have hidden or obvious conditions that can be used as a strength or super power. For example, ADHD is usually framed as a deficiency and explained that it’s like someone has a TV and changes the stations in 15-second increments. You can’t stop the channel from changing. This opened our eyes to what extreme ADHD could feel like. ADHD people are known to be extremely bright and creative.
    • Joseph Heywood had a metaphor we all loved – How you can see the paint, then the painting, next the museum, and finally the architect. You can be focused on a problem, but part of the masterpiece is surrounded by other masterpieces.
    • Sarah Lindholm shared the story of two pots where one was cracked and watered flowers when it was filled. Thus, from your brokenness, something beautiful can come.
Pricing for Corporate vs. “Normal” Storytelling – February 4, 2022
  • Article to Assist: An online guide/booklet on corporate storytelling today by Shawn Callahan, Mark Schenk, Mike Adams, and Paul Ichilcik here.
  • Referenced Resources: Podcast “Once Upon a Business” led by Lisa Bloom here; AAE Speakers website where you can find talent and compare on pricing approaches for your sake here.
  • Referenced Organizations/People: Charles Gate and Kim Weitkamp have taught workshops on corporate storytelling. Many people praised Lisa Bloom as the most prolific and experienced storyteller in the corporate world.
  • General Advice: Appears that $2,000/day is a minimum for “new” to corporate storytelling to then expand to $5,000 or $10,000 as experience increases. Look to how a public speaker or keynote would do pricing and adapt for storytellers connecting to the corporate audience.
  • Before our Discord chat, we shared comments from the StoryTell Listserv and discussed the following-
    • From Howard Lieberman: As someone who spent the last 40+ years in the corporate world I have lots of thoughts and suggestions….Don’t under-price yourself. Big money folks/entities seldom use the services of the lowest priced service provider; think big, not small. If what you have to offer makes sense to the purchaser they will either say yes to paying a generous fee or may try to knock you down a few dollars.  Self confidence sells and nothing shows self confidence like a $$$ fee request. If the purchaser asks how you justify a $$$ fee, be bold, let them know they will be buying top quality professional storytelling services that will improve their bottom line. Corporate folks are all about ROI-return on investment. If you can speak to ROI like a confident professional you might just wind up with a profitable gig. 
    • From Jim Kissane: The age old economic “iron triangle” applies as Howard has pointed out. The buyer has 3 menu items: Good, Cheap, Fast. And can only pick any two. Put another way (as my dad who was born at the beginning of the 20th century) would say: ‘If you want 1st quality oats, be prepared to pay a fair price for them. Oats that have gone through the horse come considerably cheaper.'”
    • From Jim Brule’: The first thing to realize is that “storytelling” means something very different in the corporate world – it mostly relates to either marketing or strategic planning. Which can be very good! To break out of the “corporate” expectations of storytelling and deliver really extraordinary value, to my mind, means getting clients to break out of the notion of “I just need a clean narrative” to getting their creative juices flowing about the stories that are behind the pitches they want to make. So, for example, one of the programs I developed for what is considered a “small” large company – about 10,000 – on storytelling and collaboration became a requirement for anyone who wanted to be promoted to VP. Think creatively!
    • From Larry Thompson: In my experience Corporate storytelling comes in three flavors: 1) Come entertain our [probably drunk and tired] conference dinner crowd with stories, 2) Come help our sales staff sell better, and 3) Come teach and reinforce our company values in an entertaining fashion.  Once a goal has been settled on, picking or writing stories is easier and the program starts to take shape.  It helps to have a “corporate” background, but it’s not required I suppose, although, as the saying goes, you can’t write what you don’t know.   Also a bit of research about the company is helpful, and you can gather some of that info during contract discussions – which isn’t as necessary for a school or library performance. By the way – #1 is “scary” and shouldn’t be entered into by the faint of heart 😊, #2 can be very fun, but #3 is the most personally rewarding for the teller.
Conflicts & Nightmares: How to Appease the Audience on Global & Local Levels – January 7, 2022
  • Articles to Assist: Article by Wild Apricot on planning an event (planning can avoid the nightmares) here; Article by Jonas Altman on common event planning mistakes here.
  • Referenced Organizations: Many compliments to the “Stories with Spirit” series headed by Cooper Braun-Enos and Ann Harding with traditional tales told for the modern age and building a loyalty base with average 180+ people (includes collaborations with senior centers, many repeat patrons) joining on Zoom events. They have registration with free-sign-up with expectation of donations/payment at the end. Claire Hennessy and many others are resurrecting the Bay Area Storytelling Festival. They are wondering if they can inspire past audiences as well as new audiences to come. Northlands Storytelling Network is debating on regional level events. Story Arts of Minnesota has found that most of their virtual audience is coming from out-of-state. They must balance local and global audiences. River & Prairie Storyweavers founded the Chicken Festival, that really is on any kind of storytelling and not about chickens. This was cherished by the local community and built loyalty there while always needing to be explained to people outside the area.
  • General Advice: When you choose a time zone, you are choosing who can come. You could either conduct a poll or notice where the top three time zones are for your event and then cater to those people. You want to create a safe space for everybody – careful of groups often marginalized as well as microaggressions. Many events are either still virtual or attempting hybrid to bring back in-person moments. Yet, this means we have to balance more than ever in meeting the needs of both those who attend virtually and those who attend in-person. Once you can convince people to attend, then you can build loyalty from there.
Grief & Storytelling: Seeing the Light in the Dark – December 3, 2021
  • Articles to Assist: Article by storyteller Janet Dowling that has a grief connection here; Article/blog post entitled “Amazing Ways Personal Storytelling Helps Heal Grief” here; Grief Cycle: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance here; Plug/promotion but relevant from Dan Squander when he wrote a 3-sentence review of every book on storytelling read during this pandemic here.
  • Referenced Materials: A book suggested by Janet Dowling herself after reaching out to her about the article “Storymaking in Bereavement” here; Not with grief, but a book that deals with emotional resiliency here; A book by psychotherapist Francis Weller here; A book that explores the typical five levels of grief as well as a sixth one called “meaning” here: A book focused on traumatic stress here.
  • General Advice: When sharing intense stories, consider the triggers. Determine if you are writing/crafting to “get it out of your system” or that healing already happened. Raw/fresh grief needs time and no critique yet from others. Remember there are individual and community level of difficulties/grief. The space/venue helps decide the safeness and the readiness for the audience besides the verbal reminders. Be ready to lead others to a tragic tale with an exit strategy on how to release and come back to a happy world. If someone tells a traumatic/tragic story and no one addresses it (emcee’s job), then will shake up the room. The emcee needs to reset the room that it is still safe to share/listen/continue. Acknowledge when someone is crafting a tragic tale to be art or therapy. A grief tale can be easier to tell in third person rather than first person, even if the story is about you.
  • Some phrases an emcee could use: “Let’s breathe in – we heard a lot tonight.” “If anyone needs to leave, you must take care of yourself.” “That was a hard story for us to listen to.” – counts as a verbal acknowledgement instead of the audience wondering if the emcee truly is in control and keeping the event “safe”.
Registration Platform Debate: Headaches or Heaven-Sent – November 5, 2021
  • Articles/Resources to Assist: About registration platforms for storytelling here; See reviews of Eventbrite here; What made the top 2021 registration software (involves 40+ hours of research, looking at 230+ registration companies) here; Thread from Facebook in Storytellers group about registration platforms here.
  • Referenced Materials: Wild Apricot (event registration used by Story Crossroads); Crowdcast (used by Yorkshire Festival of Story – YFOS)
  • General Advice: Your first time with a registration system could take a couple days when the next time for set-up will take 30 minutes to 1 hour. Consider online and offline payment options. Have your “end of ticket sales” (if applicable) be at least one hour after the event itself to prevent registration issues. Choose whether the patron needs to pay for any Internet/service fees or not – most will not while others like Northlands does this part. Ponder what information of the patrons do you want – but keep it short. Duplicating an event template makes the second/third/etc. time easier.
Pricing for Virtual & “Live” – from Base Prices to Block-Booking – October 1, 2021
  • Articles to Assist: Not about money completely, but some interesting ideas when figuring out charging or what to be aware of as artists during a pandemic here; reveals motivations for people being patron of the arts, and thus figuring out what we do as artists here; About undercutting a little bit, with a twist here; Some advice on what to charge for online events here; Adding revenue streams here.
  • Referenced Materials: Stageverse; Zoom; Vimeo; YouTube; Google Meets; Crowdcast
  • Organizations with interesting payment options: Story Luck always has a zero pay option, other events can be clear, or, if you ask, will let you in free; Story Lab through Youth, Educators, Storytellers has member/non-member pricing; International Storytelling Festival in Scotland; Stories with Spirit has a zero pay though a “pay what its worth” explained at the end or familiar with returning patrons.
  • General advice: You need to switch hospitality costs for videography for virtual but hybrid means increased costs as you have both. Consider value versus perceived value. You could consider pre-recording of a performance followed by a “live” virtual Q&A session. Some patrons may feel like the suggested price is the “true minimum” and avoid purchasing even if there is a minimum option. For international patrons, pricing could be unaffordable unless there is a sliding scale method. You can offer volunteer positions for those who feel your event is too costly.
What To Do When You Offend the Audience or Host – September 3, 2021
  • We usually don’t find out if we have offended – though the hint is when storytellers are not invited back (yet there are a lot of storytellers in the world – this may not be the reason). Articles to assist: When You (Accidentally Offend Someone); Surveillance cameras watch the audience, as performers hurl insults in ‘Offending the Audience’; 11 Tips To Eliminating Rude Audience Behavior!.
  • How do you know when people are uncomfortable with the story/program? – Give it 24 hours to decide “if it landed or not,” this gives you time to think about it, there is that “gravitas” of thinking about what you said at that show
  • We can come upon ultra-sensitivities – cultural, racism, language, topics. More specifics: sexual assault or abortion, how we treat the Holocaust, telling Native American tales and considering different tribes, honoring Africa as a continent as not like a country, words or characters that have regional sensitivities such as “witch” or “ghost.”
  • What is the recourse? One option suggested by Dan Squander – “If I didn’t do this story justice, come have that discussion with me after the show.” Another option – posting/announcing trigger or content warnings often done by fringes.
  • Even with warnings, intense consequences can result. Example – “The Offensive Play” was guaranteed by the creator/college student that no one will come out NOT offended. Audience members signed non-disclosures and okay with being offended. Still, the student became expelled from school. Another time, Antonio Sacre performed at a high school and got in trouble for what was shared. A festival wanted him to withdraw from their event due to that high school incident.
  • Mostly, we experience unintentional offending. Accept that it’s a big deal. You may want to send three letters/correspondence: people who hosted, other tellers affected in the line-up; audience. Or you can share with host and tell the host to share correspondence “as you see appropriate.”
  • An “offense” not often talked about it about storytellers going over time. Thus, the storyteller is being rude to the other tellers (if more in the line-up) and the host (and what was promised to the audience members). Bill Nye, as celebrity-status as he is, got in trouble when he was an hour over this assigned time.
  • Sometimes the storytellers is bad at communicating to “offending” audience members on cell phones, with crying babies, etc. If too big of a scene is made by the storyteller, then it reflects on the event/host itself. The emcee hopefully curbs some of this problem.
  • If someone approaches you after a show that they were offended, listen, realize that the person may not have the “mental bandwidth” to discuss it rationally. You can pivot and suggest that person help with another project so that your “hater” can become your “biggest fan.”
  • Some things you cannot discuss rationally online.
Gaming Entertainment & Performance Storytelling – August 6, 2021
Transitions for This Time for Storytelling (to Mask or not to Mask) – July 2, 2021
  • With vaccinations available for those aged 12+, storytellers and organizations must decide on the “new” safety protocols for in-person, virtual, or hybrid performances and events. While some people choose to wear a mask with or without vaccination, some people may choose to wear a mask that is not always connected to COVID such as for allergies, bad air quality, and flu season – articles or resources to consider: Life after the 1918 flu has lessons for our post-pandemic world written by Kristen Rogers, CNN on June 28, 2021; how a library explained their set-up of their event Library Performers Showcase – 2021 Virtual Edition; All Insights & Commentary – Optimistic on transitions to a post-pandemic world written by Michael Halloran on June 28, 2021; Why Leaders Should Be Ready To Rethink Decisions In The Post-Pandemic written by Constance Dierickx, Forbes on June 2, 2021.
  • In Argentina, the theaters will be opened – up to 50%, some only up to 30% capacity. Storytelling there is usually in cafes and not in theaters so things are still being worked out about regulations. As Argentina gets cold weather and/or fear of the COVID situation, Anabelle Castaño is unsure what to expect. Most theaters can apply for state to cover some of the costs – only 30% capacity means cannot pay for all the normal fees. Will the performers feel that or not?
  • In the Washington DC area, everything is wide open with good vaccination rate (met goal of 70%+). Nick Baskerville noticed some mask-wearing in grocery stories. If you’re vaccinated, you don’t have to wear a mask. Yet, he is unsure who is truly vaccinated and/or if masks are even worn properly. The Moth (theater) is at full capacity (100-200 people) as well as the coffee shops (about 50 people). Nick noticed less ticket sales as normal as people ease into it. As for schools, the 1st quarter is in-person or virtual, but 2nd quarter means everyone must be in-person.
  • In the Pittsburgh area, Misty Mator asked her kids if it was okay to do an in-person performance in July 2021. They supported Misty. She did need to check with venue/event on if there will be requirement for masks, face shields, etc. She has two performances in September with one festival outside (no word about masks) and the other inside classrooms but again nothing mentioned on expectations. Misty predicts the venue/event is expecting “back to normal.”
  • In California, Vel Weiss said the Governor got rid of the tier system for safety levels, vaccinations rolled out and no longer have mask mandate despite Delta variant; some people choose to mask. You can select seating online when going to a concert or play. The big question is how comfortable are you to being inside and near people?
  • In Utah, the mask mandate ended June 1, 2021 and even allowed the last week of school to be mask-free if wished. Rachel Hedman’s kids still wore masks. Most kids/parents/teachers did not wear masks at that point. Vaccination rates are not as high as majority of the population is under the age of 12 and nothing is available at this time. Some businesses insist on vaccination proof, but are rare.
  • In Chicago area, Dan Squander was scheduled for first time of live show on August 8 – agreed but now terrified considering Delta variant. He realizes that his expected audience for that show are more cautious so that can ease concerns. He is contemplating a “flashier vaccination card.”
  • What we noticed – some people will cut back on the number of performances they do to choose to be safe due to if one can trust the venue/people; we question basics of using a public bathroom; we are more aware of smells; we wonder if a cough is “just a cough” or something else; do we have shorter performances so public bathrooms are not needed so much; how do we travel and view public transportation (vector of contagions); could see more caution in urban areas versus in the country where there is more space/distancing; discouraging lingering after performances; consideration of clauses in contracts (on side of performer or venue/event) on safety precaution expectations; museums and similar venues could let visitors know how long to expect being inside; the use of the words “Post-Pandemic” or “Post-COVID” can be bothersome as not all the world has gone through their winters.
  • Misty Mator worded the following that could be helpful and open for anyone to adapt. From her – “You could put a clause in the contract concerning masks/safety gear, something saying: “Story Crossroads will provide hand sanitizer and wipe down, etc etc, The Artist will be responsible for their own safety gear, mask, etc etc. Story Crossroads expects or does not expect the Artist to use a face shield inside/outside but gives/does not give the Artist the opportunity to chose to do so, so on and so forth.”
Conflicting Opinions on Competitive Storytelling – June 4, 2021
  • Competitive Storytelling by Types or More Known Hosts: Slams, Myth-Offs, GRIT 99-second Slams, Liars Contests, Folktale Fights, The Moth, General Storytelling Contests
  • Guidance by Matthew Dicks through Speak Up Storytelling, his background is with The Moth, normally people think of the most traumatic moment for them and that’s what is crafted, a lot of trauma-type stories, short/punchy stories, short-form personal stories (as opposed to long-form personal stories)
  • Myth-Offs are where stories from two different cultures/mythology “compete” for the quickest wit trickster, most powerful hero, etc. – it is as much a “wink to the story but also to the storyteller” observed by Anabelle Castaño. Myth-Offs came about with inspiration from Clare Murphy and Csenge Zalka.
  • Most opinions/thoughts focused on how the competitions are judged. Some only are based on audience votes and can be skewed if a competing storyteller has many family/friends attending. Or, if already respected storytellers, these people could have a following and turn into a popularity contest. Some contest have a 50/50 split of power between the audience choice and the judges. Any competition needs a back-up plan in case of of a tie.
  • Sara deBeer shared how the Connecticut Storytelling Festival wanted to find ways to bring college students into the art so they made it free but then no one came. Then, Carolyn Stearns made a massive effort across the state and colleges to have slams and using judges with expertise in public speaking of one kind or another. The youth/students came to only the Slam and not the overall festival. The family/friends left as soon as the youth/students performed. The caliber of storytelling was not as professional. There was a disconnect between college student humor and older Caucasian humor.
  • Misty Mator talked about the results of the first-ever Folktale Fight hosted by Pittsburgh TELL, loved doing it as many contests focus on personal narratives, admitted that ideally there would have been 3-4 rounds and each teller got 20-30 minutes to tell, instead had a selection process and then 2 rounds that night, gave better scores if stories were within 6 minutes, later people with NEST were protective of the folktales after the Folktale Fight yet the rubric was about how the tellers told rather than story vs. story.
Kind vs. Direct Pros & Cons of Feedback Circles – May 7, 2021
  • Some articles on coaching types: Enhancing performance: An exploratory study of performance coaching in practice in a UK conservatoire, written by Mary E Hawkes, published August 2016; 6 Approaches to Coaching–and 1 that Works, written by Ryan Heinl through Association for Talent Development; What’s Your Coaching Approach? 10 Different Coaching Styles Explained, written by Heather S. Lonczak, PhD, published June 7, 2021; Narrative & Story: New Perspectives on Coaching, written by Stefanie Reissner, published in 2008
  • We considered how coaching and parenting can be related and thus looked at this article called 5 of the most popular parenting styles — and how they could affect your children, written by Rebecca English, published May 30, 2016.
  • We observed that the majority of the storytelling world has a Positive-Psychology approach that has “soft” responses or focuses mainly on appreciations and what people do right versus what needs to be improved. This approach is taught often by Doug Lipman. Storyteller is in control rather than the coach. Permissions must be given by the storyteller for each part – appreciations or questions (helps with clarification rather than to be critical).
  • Anabelle Castaño from Argentina knows a coach in the area who was known as being direct or an “Ego-Destroyer.” He may not let you get to the end of your story and then you are “taken apart in front of your peers.” Yet, people coached by him, after a couple months, were “initiated” and were loyal to his intense style.
  • People with a theater background tends to have a director style of pointing out what needs to be fixed without discussion. Compare coaching in storytelling to writing, business, other fields (beyond theater).
  • Caution – some students are carbon copies of the coaches (could be good or bad – though usually like to promote individuality). But then, where is the personal development. We agreed this means that we need to receive feedback from more than one person.
  • Misty Mator remembered a coach where “The better he thought you were, the less positive feedback you got.”
  • How many times is coaching is linked to personal style? How you communicate? How do you see the other person? Are you, as coach, able to adapt to different approaches depending on who is before you? And what of cognitive dissonance – when you tell someone that a technique or the way in telling the story is “wrong” and the body has a harsh reaction to the critique? Explore what Dr. Pat Ogden shared in regards to The Somatic Narrative. Vel Weiss shared a link about more info on The Somatic Narrative.
  • Dan Squander recommended the book “Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman.
Return to Australia – Storytelling & Education – April 30, 2021
  • Besides our original articles for Australia with Storytelling and Education, we found more articles and resources: Literacy Teaching Toolkit (how storytelling is being explained by the Victoria State Government); Digital Storytelling Across Cultures: Connecting Chinese & Australian Schools written by Mark Pegrum, Grace Oakley, Cher Ping Lim, Xi Bei Xiong, and Hanbing Yan – and Creative Book Builder was the App used by the Chinese/Australian School collaboration. We learned that the Australia-China Council has been established since 1978.
  • The “Digital Storytelling Across Cultures” focused on language/foreign language classes, felt like a “step-up” from PenPals due to the multimedia. What we wondered was have they used Zoom and interactive/spontaneous in telling the stories, breakout rooms with the students? School-owned vs. student-owned technology/computers/iPads makes the difference for success. At the time of the article, YouTube was not available in China so they had to find file-sharing tools/platforms. They could not do Youku (like YouTube) but deemed inappropriate for schools.
  • Foundations Councils & Institutes playlist with 14 videos found by Vel Weiss. A favorite from that playlist was Legs On The Wall & AsiaNow – The Tale of Samulnori.
Return to Europe – Storytelling & Education – April 23, 2021
  • Besides our original articles for Europe with Storytelling and Education, we found more articles and resources: Digital Storytelling for Inclusion; European Curriculum for Digital Storytelling; Project called StoryTeller in Europe; Applied Storytelling in Education – Europe put out by Federation of European Storytelling (FEST).
  • Noticed that Eramus+ does a lot of funding for storytelling projects in Europe such as can be seen here.
  • In March 2021, a discussion was led by FEST about problematic imagery in storytelling. Several people representing many countries including Germany, Belgium, Poland and many more – Do you tell these stories? Do you not tell these stories? What if there are rape or other triggering topics? Do you get rid of the story or get rid of it? This can be even more important when including secondary students/college students.
  • Several types of stories that work for home versus what works at school. Lately, many stories connect to colonialism. Sometimes, students are not allowed to speak their languages at the British schools, not telling those stories.
  • Recent Scottish language and poetry movement by Robert Burns – could be considered a movement, usually small versus big story-related movements for story-related – also focus on Celtic/British – but more Germanic/Roman these days.
Return to South America – Storytelling & Education – April 16, 2021
Return to Asia – Storytelling & Education – April 9, 2021
  • Besides our original articles for Asia with Storytelling and Education, we found more articles and resources: My story, your story lesson plan from the Asia Education Foundation; Artful Storytelling (Lesson) by Asian Art Museum; be connected through Asian Storytelling Network (linked specifically to their services page); another way to be connected is through the Federation of Asian Storytellers (FEAST); or the Singapore Storytelling Association.
  • While many people are used to saying “school standards” or “curriculum standards,” sometimes the phrase “National Education” or “NE” is really what is aimed to achieve in Asia. A note from Sheila Wee – “National Education,” at least in Singapore, Hong Kong  (and presumably China), is about  citizenship education and building National Identity, or as they put it here in Singapore – Nation Building.  The term at least in those Asian countries has nothing to do with academic standards.
  • Phonics are emphasized more and a storyteller who can share the art while linking to these skills will make stronger relationships with the schools.
  • Storytellers have great results when they can combine with the curriculum such as with Communication Technologies (ICT).
  • When students needs to do research, it is harder with East Asia versus with West Asia. Libraries are more technologically advanced in the West. In East Asia, sometimes libraries are not open to the public or there is a fee to use the library. Often there are neighborhood libraries. A few mobile libraries exist.
Return to North America – Storytelling & Education – April 2, 2021
  • Besides our original articles for North America with Storytelling and Education, we found more articles and resources: Children, myth and storytelling: An Indigenous perspective by Gregory A. Cajete, published on June 8, 2017; “Circle of Stories” lesson plans for educators connecting to Native American storytelling through PBS; Tales From Canada Storytelling, linked to the Canadian Storytelling Center with the University of Washington, published February 28, 2014; Canadian Storytelling in Minecraft; “The Oral Traditions of Hispanics” through The Latino Family Literacy Project; The Value of Education and Educación: Nurturing Mexican American Children’s Educational Aspirations to the Doctorate by Michelle M. Espino, published February 6, 2016.
  • Sara deBeer talked about the importance of teachers and teaching artists to make bigger collaborations and talked about Higher Order Thinking Schools (HOT Schools) through the Connecticut Office of the Arts since 1994.
  • We discussed more about the Canadian Storytelling and Minecraft and then what we have experienced in the United States. Minecraft is being used more often in education such as a reimagined Greek myth. About 10 years ago, someone from the video game world was at the National Storytelling Conference and not welcomed as much as needed to happen. Elizabeth Ellis chastised the attendees that this was our moment to guide narratives within videogaming. Seeing that this type is used more often in education, she predicted right.
  • We explored the importance of 99-second stories as there was a separate conversation about a whole event comprised of 99-second stories. Julie Barnson said that a teacher needs those 99-second stories as there is much waiting in line, transitioning, and more so than usual due to COVID and extended release of students (not letting them all leave at the same time to have more distancing). These short stories are great to end a lesson, review for a test, and kick-off a new lesson.
  • We talked about how Spanish is not the original/indigenous language of Mexico. There can be tension between Mayan and other languages against the Spanish. We see this throughout the world. When culture and language can be respected, then education improves.
Return to Africa – Storytelling & Education – March 26, 2021
  • Besides our original article featuring 16 stories from different African countries, we found these articles: African Storytelling: A Theatrical Recipe for Teaching and Learning by Tertsea Ikyovie connected to University of Ibadan, Nigeria (can download full article), published July 2011; African Storytelling by Michelle Simmons, published January 2019; The African Oral Tradition Paradigm of Storytelling as a Methodological Framework: Employment Experiences for African communities in New Zealand (despite connecting to New Zealand – still insights on African oral tradition) by Kudakwashe Tuwe, published February 2016; Ngugi Wa Thiongo and Chinua Achebe on the Politics of Language and Literature in Africa by Global Literacy Project, Inc., appears to be published in early 2000s.
  • Philippa Namutebi Kabali-Kagwa joined us who is Ugandan and living in Cape Town, South Africa. She shared some experiences and explained that some stories are meant for home-only while others are for school/public-only. Tricksters sometimes are seen as Wise Ones to guide society in acceptable behaviors, which are meant for anyone to hear. Examples of African tricksters: Kenya – hare; West Africa – Anansi; Nigeria – tortoise; Zulu – Hlakanyana (like a weasel, mongoose). Vel Weiss remembered that Ben Okri said that certain stories were for the stage but Tortoise stories were always welcomed for the public.
  • Philippa explained that during school there was punishment for talking in native tongues. Due to the colonization experience and missionary education, much of African cultures were considered pagan or “not good” so she called it “colonial hangover” for today’s times. Some people stick to that “hangover” while other people are going back to reclaim the stories and then find and tell the stories in their own ways.
  • Stories in Africa tend to intertwine with poetry, proverbs, and singing. However, these elements are not deemed important for school. Philippa had a hard time convincing students to share traditional songs from their families in a school setting. Much like the stories, there are songs for home and songs for school. Only in the last decade or two has Philippa noticed that singing and dancing with drumming is being welcomed in church settings such as with the Catholic faith. This is all part of the reclamation/restoration.
  • Philippa said that while the United States and United Kingdom pay storytellers to go in schools/libraries, in Africa there is usually no budget as it is considered that “anyone can tell a story.” They have to hear a professional to understand the difference and that it’s truly a professional craft and not simply an everyday skill.
  • Lately there is a movement in Uganda of collecting the traditional stories. Spoken word/poetry has peeked interest these days. Kenya has a movement of finding national heroes or people involved with independence struggles. There are attempts to “shift the narrative” in connection with British and colonial tragedies.
  • Ever since the shutdown with COVID, Philippa says it’s been a struggle to hold events or have meeting for The Story Cafe. Not everyone has Internet. Outside events are tricky as now is the rainy season. Anabelle Castaño from Argentina shared her radio experience that did not connect with the Internet.
Bridging Differing Views On & Off Stage – March 19, 2021
  • Before discussing differing views, we wanted some guides on peace-making and found the following handbooks: Managing Peace Processes (77 pages) by Make Peace Happen, published in 2013; Designing Community-Based Dialogue (4 chapters/areas that you can register for free, appears you can take at any time online) by United States Institute of Peace. We also discovered when over 500 different people of various views were gathered for 4-5 days in Texas to talk about “hot topics” in an amazingly impactful way. See these articles/reports from this conducted by America in One Room: How a weekend of discussing politics shifted the views of these Americans by CNN, reported October 2, 2019; America in One Room Results by Standford, reported October 2, 2019; These 526 Voters Represent All of America. And They Spent a Weekend Together. by The New York Times written by Emily Badger and Kevin Quealy, reported October 2, 2019.
  • Beginning of our chat talked about creating a physical or virtual space that is a safe place for people to converse. Megan shared that sometimes a space has to be found that is “unmarked by history” of contention. She shared that when there needed to be talks between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, the intensity was between Protestant/Catholic with deep historic roots. Instead of meeting on one side of the river or the other, the people made an actual physical bridge called the Derry Peace Bridge. We discussed accessibility and the ability for others to join – from across ethnicities and communities including the Deaf, Blind as well as the disabled communities.
  • A couple books that were referenced in the discussion: “The Lathe of Heaven: A Novel” by Ursula Le Guin on a world where everyone was gray and “the same” and how that disrupted and harmed the society. We talked about the importance of having differing views and differences. We discussed current events and how racism is something to face. Another book mentioned to gain perspective: “The Black Friend: On Being a Better White Person” by Frederick Joseph.
  • We discussed triggering words and how we, as storytellers and human beings, can be more careful and respect why groups prefer certain words or phrases over others. In California, there is much talk of colonization versus missionization. The preferred word with the Native American communities is “colonization” as it is more truthful in what happened. Here is an article about this controversial topic called Mission and Colonialism by Michael Gladwin in The Oxford Handbook of Nineteenth-Century Christian Thought, published online in August 2017/ published print in December 2019.
  • We talked about how some people prefer “enslaved” rather than “slave” in connection to identity. We talked about people who see “I see no color” in regards to race and how this is harmful, again, to identity. See this article What I Hear When Someone Says “I Don’t See Color” by Kiara Goodwin as part of The Everygirl, published June 1, 2020.
  • As storytellers – How do we accept information? How do you give that information? If you know it’s a trigger, think on what is best to do. How does it work in different cultures? Lorna MacDonald Czarnota shared that her view of being “universal” is not to think of what is true for everybody but how does it work across the universe. We enjoyed this new look at “universal.”
  • People were honest and kind during our session and was truly a moving experience. We decided to have this be a recurring theme every couple months for Story Crossroads Discord. Special thanks to this remarkable group.
Springboard Conversation-Role of the Storyteller Today (inspired by Jack Zipes from 3/9/2021)-March 12, 2021
  • Whether or not at the original conversation with Jack Zipes on 3/9/2021 hosted by Story Arts of Minnesota (SAM), you can access the sources referenced in that conversation by clicking here. Sue Searing shared the article that Jack Zipes was reading from during that Zoom: Speaking the Truth with Folk and Fairy Tales: The Power of the Powerless that was published in the Journal of American Folklore, Volume 132, Number 525, Summer 2019. As a result of the Zoom, Sara DeBeer noted 11 questions and listed them on this Facebook thread. For more material to add to the Zipes Conversation, a recording on Facebook shares Resurrecting Dead Fairytales.
  • When exploring Class and Fairy Tales – mentioned that seems that someone needs to be king/queen and that it is not their job to equalize. We compared High Accumulation Cultures versus Low Accumulation Cultures on the main focus of the stories. With High Accumulation, tends to be a poor person who goes on a quest and eventually gains status/riches and possibly royalty.
  • How does one approach these folk and fairy tales? Some people found it easier to tell personal stories than to shift through the levels of class, racism, or other controversial topics brought up within those stories. How do we frame these stories that appear to subtly lead society in certain directions?
  • While some did not like Carl Jung due to antisemitism, it was still brought up this 1925 Essay from him entitled, “Marriage as a Psychological Relationship”.
  • Special thanks to Sara DeBeer for leading this conversation as well as to Vel Weiss for notes/references. More thanks to the following: Sue Searing, Anabelle Castaño, Dot Cleveland, Allen DeBey, Lorna MacDonald Czarnota, Mary Jo Pollack, and Robin Bady. The conversation itself went beyond the usual 1-hour chat with so many details and thoughts. Thus, we encourage you to explore the links and see what you think about the importance of folk and fairy tales and our responsibilities as storytellers and listeners as a result of their existence. We learned that the Story Arts of Minnesota could be doing a follow-up session with Jack Zipes either in June or September 2021.
Censorship vs. Authenticity – March 5, 2021
  • Articles to put another view on times/typical times of Censorship: Censorship—An Old Story by Richard L. Darling, published in May 1974 though relevant to today; Storytelling, Censorship, and Power (as part of a theme explored in Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress yet applicable to historical/political times) shared by LitCharts; Authenticity Vs. Censorship in the Best Years of our Lives (while comparing to film, looks at the “wounds” around a historical event and when to move forward and sharing the details), published by StudyDriver on June 12, 2019; Banned Books: Reasons Books are Challenged with list compiled by Butler University that came from  “Common Reasons for Banning Books,” Fort Lewis College, John F. Reed Library. Banned Books, Censorship & Free Speech. November 15, 2013. Web. March 19, 2014.
  • Balancing the story and determining if it even needs censorship – though an oral storyteller could simply “cut” parts not due to being offensive but due to time restraints or that discussions afterwards would be more appropriate in an educational setting versus as part of a general public storytelling festival
  • People who are offended tend to state “inappropriate for children” as main reason though reasons – or what some people see as “excuses” – are easy to list when determined for something not to be mentioned or shared on stage
  • A type of censorship could happen with traditional tales that could take away its authenticity or placing modern-time values on an old tale, this leans more into ethics
How Schools Around the World Approach Storytelling – Feb. 26, 2021
  • Africa – national identity and shared identity are greatest goals when using storytelling, has almost a reverse approach where storytelling is used to show why education is important rather than education used to show why storytelling is important; see movie called “Keïta! l’Héritage du griot” linked to modernization in countries though still re-telling of stories and shows what happens when you have a storytelling society, when oral word is more important than the written word; read/watch 16 stories from Africa on the importance of education during conflict and crisis shared by Global Partnership for Education, published June 16, 2016
  • South America – more focused on adults rather than families; Colombia-most of the storytelling movement is linked to universities; witnessing new configurations of oral traditions with wrong oral tradition told and credited to wrong cultures – so it’s confusing and new oral tradition is born; experiences about the schooling system and storytelling by Dora Pastoriza de Etchebarne and Martha Salotti in the 1960s (Instituto Summa) and see link (in Spanish) to know more; specific to Argentina – school system inspired by American system in late 19th century that’s strong and accessible but many oral cultures were suppressed and idea of “progress” affected Indigenous cultures such as if 1st language was not Spanish and was one of the Indigenous languages – with “worldly” or “civilization” interests get obliterated, grow up with shame
  • North America – many Latin American countries are more focused on adults rather than families, yet interesting study called Mexican families Storytelling in Mexican Homes: Connections Between Oral and Literacy Practices by Leslie Reese, published December 7, 2012; United States – used to create more along the lines of factory workers who can sit for long periods of time and follow a boss but no longer the case and need kids to work individually to where there is group collaboration for problem-solving, using conversation as problem-solving; easiest way to involve storytelling is more about digital literacy and developing story structure that way as can be seen by case studies provided by StoryCenter across the United States; teacher-focused resource found online through Connecticut Storytelling Center; receive resources through StoryCorps in the Classroom; see how the Sundance Film Festival turned virtual and shared this piece Beyond Film – Native Storytelling with Sundance Alumni
  • Asia – China – very large number of students in the classroom, teacher holds more respected position in the community at large and makes it easier for group dynamics; digital storytelling popular as can be seen with Creative Voices: Digital Storytelling for Global Learning
  • Europe – Education as well as storytelling festivals often follow recommendations from European Union – stimulate of certain languages or issues, make their focus or cross-over with foreign languages, storytelling is a way to appreciate and emphasize languages and cultures; many foreign languages are taught through storytelling methods though usually more in Central/Middle Europe; some local places raise awareness of dialects that have been dying and ways of saying and telling things in their traditional languages; enjoy Tedx talk by Simon Heywood that touches on many European stories and talks about the impact of storytelling from Shonaleigh Cumbers called “Missing the Arrow: searching for the great story teller” on June 15, 2015
  • Australia – here is a dream of what storytelling and education could be found with this article Australopedia is teaching Australian children the power of storytelling by Rosemary Ross Johnston, published on October 4, 2016; see another perspective with storytelling and education at the article Storytelling as education (don’t tell the children!) by Lindy Mitchell-Nilsson, published November 14, 2017
  • Special thanks to everyone gathering articles, videos, etc. by Anabelle Castaño, Misty Mator, Vel Weiss, and Sara DeBeer.
Therapeutic Stories on Stage? Pros & Cons – Feb. 12, 2021
  • Several articles can apply to therapeutic storytelling on stage even if they focus on another direction as well as specific experiences: Knowing When To Tell Your Story In Therapy by Allison Crowe, published August 4, 2014 (not stage, but amazing list of tips); Tragedy and Performance: Will The Circle Be Unbroken by Adam Miller, published November 10, 2016; Using Therapeutic Storytelling with Children: Five Easy Steps by John Sommers-Flanagan, published July 8, 2019. Plus, here are books to explore: Inviting the Wolf In: Thinking About Difficult Stories by Loren Niemi and Elizabeth Ellis, published January 10, 2006; Beyond the Sword Maiden: A Storyteller’s Introduction to the Heroine’s Journey by Dorothy Cleveland and Barbara Schutzgruber, published November 1, 2017 (explores healing-type stories).
  • Know when the story is ready to go out. Even if you feel okay in telling it, your performance may be rough. You want to aim for high-processing with high-quality crafting. As for the audience, sometimes they need to be assured if it is true or not. Then they can breathe better. Of course, if the story is true, then have another way for the audience to have a moment to breathe.
  • Have a Storytelling Safety Plan (phrased by Misty Mator) in case, if you as the storyteller, realize in the moment of telling the story that you had not processed the story as much as first thought. Be willing to switch the story in the moment or shorten, if needed. With a back-up plan – what will you do when you are triggered – you will be ready and your audience will not have to take care of you or at least feel like they need to take care of you. This Storytelling Safety Plan is your automatic and planned response much like “Stop, Drop and Roll.” Even with the best plans, you will have audience member(s) who have their own personal triggers. You cannot control it. Only be ready for responses or physical signs from the audience.
  • Sometimes people deny certain events. Anabelle Castaño guides tour groups at a museum in Argentina and does not leave out the extermination details nor does she censor. People will cry and be shocked. Yet, it reflects true history. However, even with dark and horrendous stories, she always remind the group that despite everything, there are survivors or people have lived on. She speaks of potential. In addition, Donald Davis said, “When you really know a story, you always know how to get home.” That home is that hope. You can go to dark places, though give a sense of hope or “what do we do now” at the end. Special thanks to all who helped in the conversation including Sara DeBeer, Dot Cleveland, Misty Mator, Vel Weiss.
School Standards and Storytelling – Feb. 5, 2021
  • Using school standard language becomes useful when writing grants, approaching educators, clarifying the objectives, and persuading decision-makers in making time for storytelling. Here is a quick overview about school standards and where you can find them in. State Academic Standards: What You Need To Know by Andrew M.I. Lee, JD. See these online sources for ideas on what is meant by school standards and merging with storytelling: Storytelling and the Common Core Standards, Grades 6-12 – compiled through Youth, Educators, and Storytellers Alliance in 2013 (81 pages); Story Guides List (for the classroom) International Storytelling Center – showing 26 and growing at the time of this discussion; Linking Storytelling and Common Core State Standards – by Priscilla Howe, published March 19, 2014. Thanks to Allen DeBey, Sara DeBeer (received Masters in Education), Yasu Ishida (often works with schools), and Vel Weiss (father was teacher) on insights.
  • Do you have a teacher/educator consultant? Who do you know that teaches younger kids, middle-aged kids, older kids, higher education that you feel comfortable in getting advice or even to know the exact standard (for example, 3.1.A ). Be familiar with school standards on local, regional/state, and federal levels.
  • You may have access or being part of a Roster of Story Artists reviewed by teachers and your curriculum connections with your art; collaborating with the Language Arts Specialist or someone over the head of the team, or individual educator emails – tend to find reaching out to teachers is better than principals or superintendents though eventually approval comes from these people – in your communications, use words like “partner,” “collaborate,” and “integrate” to suggest to the educators that you want to understand their curriculum and adapt accordingly. Sara DeBeer
  • Compare expectations from around the world. Typically kids (aged 7 and younger) focus on spoken storytelling and folktales/fairy tales that eventually turns to reading/literacy. In the United States, nonfiction or informational reading is more important, as you can see in this article “The Nonfiction Reading Revolution” by Connie Matthiessen, published March 16, 2015 yet still stressed today. Besides standards focused on listening skills and story structure, you can also delve into empathy and anti-bullying. Every grade level is slightly different in approaches so watch the wording carefully. In Argentina as shared by Anabelle Castaño, the first 7-8 years they do receive folktales/fairy tales – leaning away from legends due to bad associations – and then more folktales in middle ages. Teens are best to be reached through myths.
Expanding Storytelling Visibility – Jan. 29, 2021
  • Storytelling is not as visible as other art forms. Nick Baskerville observed and said, “Storytelling – something you are doing inside of some other art.” We pondered as a group on how the world sees storytelling as “everything” so consider this – Comic – but really a storyteller; Musician – but really a storyteller; Videographer – but really a storyteller; Writer – but really a storyteller; Improv – but really a storyteller; Singer – but really a storyteller.
  • Articles to explore how to become more visible – can adapt to storytelling world: 3 Inexpensive Ways to Boost Your Nonprofit’s Visibility – by Allison Gauss How to Raise the Visibility of Your Organization – Sept. 27, 2016 by Roman Alvarez; How to Become a Famous Singer in 8 Steps – Dec. 29, 2020 by Shaun Letang; 15 things you MUST do to make it in the music industry – Feb. 11, 2016 by Nick Gunn.
  • Storytelling benefits more from collaboration outside the typical storytelling world – you can see examples of events that don’t even use the storytelling name but still promote it such as: The Moth; Folk Festivals; Spoken Word Festivals; Clearwater Revival. Or you have examples of events that combine storytelling in the name with another art: Buffalo Commons – Music & Storytelling Festival; Salt Lake City Storytelling & Film Festival. Keep in mind – Eclectic Festivals – is audience expecting one type of presentation versus many kinds?
  • Suggested more University partnerships as well as youth (who bring in families) to expand visibility with “new” audiences instead of many virtual events lately that are more storytellers performing for other storytellers. Other possible collaborations/explorations: Recitations/Speech Festivals; Improv Troupes (Studio C, JK Studio); National Speech & Debate Association (seems to have changed name from National Forensics League – youth compete in storytelling and other categories); Toastmasters (compete in storytelling); Local & National Poet Laureates (see about Storyteller Laureates?); Arts Councils; Teaching Artists touring in Schools. Find the people who don’t see themselves as storytellers but then find out that they are storytellers – see how personal. And grateful to the brainstorming from Nick Baskerville, Allen DeBey, Sara DeBeer, Misty Mator, and Vel Weiss.
Credentials vs. Licensing of Storytellers – Jan. 22, 2021
Storytelling Products: CDs to Digital Downloads to What? – Jan. 15, 2021
“Cousin” Groups of Storytelling for Marketing – Jan. 8, 2021
  • We need basics on developing relationships outside our storytelling world so this article entitled The Fine Art of Relationships from Artists Network has 12 points to consider. While you can reach out to people “cold,” always see who you know or who the people you know also know before proceeding. Sara DeBeer said that developing these relationships are a lot like when you do a lot of genealogical research. When you reach out to family members, why would these people want to get together with you? “We may be family, but I don’t know you yet!” Be ready with an answer.
  • Do you know or someone you know who does know? – Voice Actors, Spoken Word Artists, Poets (Slam, traditional, etc.), Actors (Theater, Film, etc.), Improv (Some troupes/individuals have sponsored storytelling events before such as the Connecticut Tellabration!), Writers, Toastmasters (have collaborated as emcees with Story Crossroads before), Videographers (Sterling Elliot who assists Story Crossroads or Sara deBeer’s son, Bernard Zeiger-writer)and Casey Stein-director https://www.lwtinteractive.com/), Musicians, etc.
  • Some outreach has been attempted for ultra-short narrative storytelling organizations such as The Moth or The Bee. Matthew Dicks published a book, performs for The Moth, and the Connectitcut Storytellers had him as a guest one time. Nick Baskerville is “new” to storytelling though not to performance. He has a blog to feature more of our art.
Artistic Statements & Missions – Jan. 1, 2021
  • Articles on Artistic Statements – How to write an artist statement by The Creative Independent (Sarah Hotchkiss, with illustrations by Beena Mistry) as well as The Complete Guide to Writing an Artist Statement in 2020 by ARTDEX Blog
  • Important to know what is NOT an Artistic Statement: pompous depiction of yourself; listing of empty expressions; full of jargon/lingo; dissertation or discourse on your methods; poetic or prose in nature; anecdote; childhood or family reminisces; press release
  • An Artistic Statement IS: usually not more than one page; could be used/shared with anyone giving an interview with you such as with podcasts, critics, reviewers; most important to you as a guide — Vel Weiss said, “The Artist Statement is more like a compass than a profession.”
  • Reflect on your established Artist Statement at least once a year; could combine the written version (great to hang on your bathroom mirror) with recording for your self or to be shared with the world through audio, video, or any other combo; imagine it as “Interview with Self” and share your process and wished legacy – ideas shared by Marc Young
Online Research for Folktales – Dec. 18, 2020
  • Top Recommendations for searching: Google Scholar as well as the comprehensive list put together by D.L. Ashliman (since retired from University of Pittsburgh) though look at other possible places such as Greenwood Database (available to those with dues-paying membership with National Storytelling Network) or Diverse BookFinder. Alton Chung reminded us all that whenever researching, always keep in mind cultural appropriation and what is best overall.
  • Top people in storytelling community for online resources: Karen Chace (pioneer of online sources, puts out blog posts here) and Dr. Csenge Zalka (many blog posts, see latest here and will teach 5-hour virtual workshop on researching)
  • Use “Online Pleading” to ask for specific types/versions/variants as well as to link or meet for the first time for people from the story’s culture; Use Zoom one-on-ones (share if person owns book you need, share that way, discuss, or if person knows stories due to community communications); Figure out and be part of Listserv (older way/like group email with archives) – See some storytelling-related listservs here
  • Take advantage of Inter-Library Loans (curbside, copies-not books-emailed as pdfs, could even use WorldCat to identify and directly reach out to that library) as well as searching through other ways. Misty Mator says to look up folk-fairy tales in research papers on culture studies. “If I’m looking up women’s studies, or parenting practices, or farming practices, traditional practices, so on an so on, the authors sometimes will reference a local folklore or fairytale. Once I have that name, or character name, or plot, I can take that and use it as a jumping off point for search engines.”
Hybrid Options for Performances – Dec. 11, 2020
Zoom Listeners & How to Inspire Group-Listening, Dec. 4, 2020
  • See these articles when considering Zoom audiences and things to consider (attracting to event or engaging them): Using Evident To…Engage Family Audiences by The Audience Agency or see this pdf instead; The Best Zoom Trends We’re Seeing Right Now by Crews Control/Valerie Nolan; and Infographic – Leverage Marketing Strategies through Virtual Reality by Touchstone Research (yes, virtual reality marketing but an innovative approach to attract audiences in the first place)
  • Typically seen that either all-adults or all-kids for the virtual audiences with rarely any families/groups watching performances live. In the beginning of shutdown, people were more open to share video but lately people either are choosing to turn video on for performer to assess audience’s engagement. Biggest reasons appear to be peer pressure, multi-tasking, unstable Internet connections, and subconscious of home setting. Through socio-economics, some people could be calling into Zoom rather than the Zoom app or have older computers that make it impossible to do video. We can encourage but realize and understand these other reasons as pointed out by Sara deBeer.
  • Each event could consider offering 1-3 tailored virtual backgrounds for Zoom linked to the theme(s) to assist in any worries over house condition or hosts can ask for attendees to at least have a picture of themselves uploaded if unable to do video.
  • Storytelling events have majority or all attendees be fellow storytellers. Collaborating with others, especially if seeking out virtual family audiences, could be best. Check with libraries and see if their virtual programming has changed the demographics of who shows up now. Ask questions like you would with a live performance. For example, for a virtual school performance, ask unit the students recently finished or will start up. Use one-liners or more to make the connection and encourage “fans.”
“Thankful” for Grant-Writing in the Performing Arts, Nov. 24 & 27, 2020
Organization. Either as individual/sole proprietor or nonprofit
Contact Details.
Project Narrative. Usually what is proposed, why it is being undertaken, what expected results will be.
Community. Describe your community and why this project is important to them. Explain how your community will be actively involved in the project. A community can be any group of individuals who share a common interest, as well as those sharing a geographic area.
Issues and Improvement. Identify the specific issue/concern facing your community, and describe how this project will address this issue to bring change or improvement to your community.
Promotional Plan. Provide details of how the project will be publicized and how funders will be credited.
Evaluation. Outline how you will evaluate the effectiveness of your project, beyond attendance numbers. What measurable outcomes and strategies will you use to measure the project’s success and its impact in your community?
Private Life vs. Public Stage, Nov. 17 & 20, 2020
  • Many articles to explore including After the Show: The Many Faces of the Performer; Yale Psychologists: Introverts Are Better Than Extroverts at Performing This Essential Leadership Skill (we compared to audience behavior analysis of Introverts); and Introvert vs Extrovert: A Look at the Spectrum and Psychology (promotes idea that creative people tend to be ambiverts rather than pure extrovert or introvert)
  • What percentage of storytellers are extroverts versus introverts? Towards 2000, Dr. Joseph Sobol guessed half and half. Vel Weiss guessed in 2020 that most storyteller could be introverts as listening skills are needed to connect to an audience. We want someone to do a Masters Thesis or research paper on this topic! We discussed several storytellers and performers (including ourselves) on how different or same we are on and off stage. Also consider – Robin Williams, Jimi Hendrix, Michael Jackson, Morgan Freeman, etc.
  • In regards to decision-making, introverts analyze human behavior/audience while extroverts can make snap judgement as a performer of what to do next, what story to tell next.
Superstitions We Have as Performers, Nov. 10 & 13, 2020
  • Storytellers and Actors have similar superstitions. See this article of 13 found in Theater by Broadway Direct. Instead of “Break a leg,” we have heard “Break a lip.” Though, “leg” can mean more than that part of our body. It can refer to the backstage/centerstage. We could have certain wardrobe/hats so we will have “luck” to carrying an item connected to the story (but not used as a prop) to rolling dice like a Magic 8 Ball on how things will go.
  • Superstitions are found throughout the world. Some people could call them patterns, rituals, or traditions. See a few from around the world in this online post from Insider. See this article called How do superstitions affect our psychology and well-being? published on Friday the 13th in 2020.
  • We can unknowingly miss the the beliefs/superstitions of cultures in folktales such as why a character must be found under a certain tree, why a certain color is important, or the food consumed. Example: consider that many/most cultures have “Tree of Life” symbol – see this blog post by Story Crossroads on it. Alton Chung shared in Hawaiian culture that tea leaf plant wards off evil…but make sure it is green and NOT red as red is connected to blood/sacrifice while green keeps things away from you. He also shared about Green Lady versus White Lady and getting the stories correct or ghosts will not be happy.
Tradition Bearers who have Passed On – Honoring Them, Oct. 27, Nov. 3 & 6, 2020
Orality and Screen Culture – Equity of Experiencing Storytelling, Oct. 20 & 23, 2020
Impact on Traditional & Cultural Storytelling (COVID), Oct. 13 & 16, 2020
  • Yellow Bird (Cheyenne) has Facebook page with cultural arts – including storytelling – with regular Facebook Lives to uphold traditions in a quarantined/COVID world, while increased visibility, learned from Lynette Two Bulls that many of their Elders have died from COVID and creates more urgency to film and record them
  • Amy Douglas has the “Taking the Tradition On” YouTube series and interviews traditional tellers in the United Kingdom – meanwhile there are specials connected with Ray Hicks and David Holt – part 1 and part 2
  • Young Audiences has The YA Network in different states including Virginia where they have “Take 10” videos of different cultural arts, dancers are engaging while storytelling harder to come across screen
  • Discussed “Traditional Storyteller” versus “Traditional Storytelling” – Liz Weir does not consider herself as a traditional storyteller but as someone who tells traditional stories. We liked the phrase “Traditional Bearer” better. Decided that we need to honor these Bearers across the continents and discover who are those mentors/legacies (big thanks to Alton Chung, Mara Menzies, Vel Weiss, Via Goode, and Margaret Read MacDonald to help research):
    • AfricaGcina Mhlophe from South Africa; Philippa Namutebi Kabali-Kagwa; John Mukeni Namai in connection with Zamaleo Sigana Storytellers
    • Asia – Alicia Dongjoo Bang – organized a multiday international storytelling event hosted in Seoul; Sujit Mahapatra Suji – arranges for a teller from another country to tell stories and share with children each week, based near Calcutta and has a huge following while running a group of small children’s libraries; Masako Sueyoshi and Hiroko Fujita in Japan – have worked with Fran Stallings; Dr. Wajuppa Tossa and Dr. Prasong Saihong in Thailand; Made Taro and his son, GoodDay Tamada in Bali, Indonesia; Richard Dian Vilar in the Philippines; Alicia Dongjoo Bang and Seug Ah Kim in Korea; Chen Ming Hsiang in Hong Kong; Mochamad Ariyo Farrdh Zidni in Indonesia; Ng Kok Keong in Malaysia; Jeeva Raghunath in India; Kamini Rachmanchandran, Sheila Wee, and Roger Jenkins in Singapore
    • Europe – Duncan Williamson – Scotland; David Campbell – Edinburgh; Dr. Martin Shaw; Shonaleigh Cumbers – last remaining drut’syla; Giovanna Conforto in Italy; Liz Weir and Colin Urwin in Northern Ireland; Daniel Morden in Wales; Ben Haggarty in England; Peter Chand in Scotland
    • South America – still awaiting answers, researching
    • North America – Ray Hicks – Appalachia; Dovie Thomason – Lakota and Plains Apache; Patrick Ball in Ireland via California, Renee Englot and Anne Glover in Canada
    • Australia – Kiran Shah; Anna Jarrett
Generational Gaps & Gains in Storytelling, Oct. 6 & 9, 2020
  • Understanding what is even meant by “generational” – article on how years range on length of a generation – nowadays a generation is about 25 years, varies by case, used to be 20 years PLUS seems that many issues from the 1970s and the protests are similar to what we see for Millennials today
  • Millennials vs. Boomers or generational divides brought up during NSN’s Conference by Elizabeth Ellis – then we continued to chat about priorities and issues important to each generation – Millennials asking, “What kind of world are you leaving us?” Boomers asking, “What will you do with the world we worked hard to create for you?” – Youth are more about finding oneself/identity while Elders are more about finding, honoring, and cherishing family – cooperating and combining these ideas can strengthen us overall – article “Tell Me a Story: How Generational Storytelling Can Help Light a Path to Our Future”
  • Dovie Thomason has story that reflects different views of younger vs. older generations involving mice (shared at Timpanogos Storytelling Virtual Festival) in that the young look for glory/name recognition while the elders look for peace/avoid war whenever possible – Marc Young shared a story about a mother bird who had three fledglings and gives them rides yet barrel rolls them into the river depending on if the baby bird is honest or not – discussing what is the “barrel roll” for us today in regards to generational gaps/gains – finally discussing the “Half Blanket” story on honoring our elders
  • Alton Chung shared the phrase “Structural Bias” and makes events already hard for other generations to get involved or be interested in the first place – giving time (6 months+ prep) and freedom of choice in stories told/selected per generation – we discovered that gaps in generations can also reveal gaps in other areas such as cultural diversity
Pricing/Rates of Virtual vs. Live Storytelling, Sept. 29 & Oct. 2, 2020
  • Standard prices so far in storytelling world–for those events encouraging or ticketing–tends to be $10-$15 for one performance, $20-$30 for 90-minute workshop, $75-$200 for intensive or multi-session workshops, and $25-$50 for “big” festivals though will see much lower and higher in all categories
  • When charge $50+ but offer “pay what it’s worth” then trickier due to guilt/not-attend-at-all BUT charge $50 or less and people more likely to take advantage of “pay what it’s worth” and feel more welcomed – this 2016 article delves into Pricing PsychologyMisty Mator afterwards shared we can distinguish between “livestream” and “Pro LiveStream” with live Zoom concerts versus different cameras/switching angles – offset costs through sponsors/ads much like live TV crew and “regular” TV
  • Agreed together that virtual/live rates need to at least be the same, more guidance on another way to view charging has to do with copyright/permissions for plays or multi-licensing for school/libraries – see article on how ebooks work out pricing with multi-licenses
International Collaborations, Sept. 22 & 25, 2020
Storytelling Movements – Where are We Now?, Sept. 15, 2020
  • Read “The Storytellers’ Journey: An American Revival” by Joseph Daniel Sobol that was published in 1999 and then compare to Sobol’s newest book that barely came out in 2020 (did not discuss as the book is so new, but would be fascinating to compare) – movements consists of tellers, listeners, producers of live and virtual events as well as the general public so checking on events/festivals would give us more numbers to check on what state we truly are in with the American Storytelling Movement as well as what is happening in all other continents
  • According to Anthony F.C. Wallace’s Revitalization Theory, a revitalization movement is “steady state; period of individual stress; period of cultural distortion; period of revitalization (in which mazeway reformulation, communication, organization, adaptation, cultural transformation, and routinization occur); and finally, new steady state” quoted from Sobol’s 1999 book mentioned before on page 7
  • Considering the virtual performances, workshops and other events – seems like instead of a revival, we are not in a vitalistic movement that “emphasize[s] the importation of alien elements into the mazeway,” quoted from Sobol’s 1999 book mentioned before on page 6
YouTube vs. Vimeo for Storytellers, Sept. 8, 2020
  • YouTube has 2 billion users while Vimeo has about 1 million users – though the audience is different as Vimeo has a professional feel, ability to add your branding and rent/sell videos, and being ad-free
  • YouTube is free and you can earn money once you have 1,000+ subscribers (rare for storytellers but did see that John McCutcheon has 1.08K and 273,000+ views) while Vimeo has different levels with commercial/selling of videos needing Vimeo Pro of at least $20/month plus taking 10% of any video rental/fee AND merchandise/tax fees – check out World Storytelling Cafe (371 videos since May 2020) as well as Storytelling Connections (video rental of Ancient & Contemporary: Native American stories)
  • Article to consider: Top 10 Free Video Sharing and Hosting Sites for Education (as tellers work often with educators)
Audience Isolation Behaviors, Sept. 1, 2020
Story Storage, Aug. 24, 2020
  • Hard copy and digital versions to store the stories you collect over time are recommended – hard copy for portability and “body memory” and digital for searchable columns
  • Manila folders work great for each story and then categorized by hanging folders (origin country/location, motif/theme, holidays, recommended audience, etc.)
  • Google Sheets allow easy-access on laptop and/or on phone for on-the-go and could include these column headers: Date, Location, Audience, Length of Performance, Stories Told, Theme (if any), Notes
Personal vs. Organizational Branding, Aug. 17, 2020
  • Consider the colors you typically associate with you as a teller and with the marketing materials you create – hard copy and virtual – then make a bigger effort to continue any trends or at least decide these trends
  • You as a teller is a logo in and of itself – any other personal and/or organizational logo needs to be included in any or all communications or advertising
  • Rituparna Ghosh uses “Your Story Bag” as a physical, logo symbol, and philosophy and views of the art in connection with her storytelling, she uses this repeatedly on social media
Cultural Appropriation, Aug. 10, 2020
Prepping Halloween/Christmas stories for Podcasts, Aug. 3, 2020
  • Challenge to anyone to consider holiday stories for podcasts with special attention to Halloween/Christmas – still not too late in September of every year to submit Halloween stories – example of one “Want to share your scary story? We would love to hear it in the dead of night! Submit your pitch to: spooked@snapjudgment.org”
  • Can you share the entire story within 1-2 minutes? Proposing a story may mean telling it shorter knowing you can take more time with it once accepted.
  • Amazing person who knows how to submit podcast stories AND runs a podcast himself: Dr. Raymond Christian
Video Editing – Free & Purchased Software, July 27, 2020
Patreon & Other Recurring Revenues for Storytellers, July 20, 2020
  • Discover your balance of Free Content to Consume vs. Exclusive when working out Patreon or other comparable recurring revenues platforms
  • Create an email script to invite family/friends about subscribing for at least 3 months to build the momentum and recruit other supports in the time being (for example – different levels on Patreon and could be $3 X 3 months so only $9 commitment but makes the difference)
  • Understand your brand and what posts would “make sense” AND great person who knows how to use Patreon (and attended): Laura Packer
Starting a Podcast, July 13, 2020
Antelope Island/Potential for Stories when giving tours, July 6, 2020
  • Featured the experience of Carl and wanting to expand his repertoire and type of stories depending on the audience before him when giving tours of Antelope Island
  • Tim Ereneta shared article of “a different model/metaphor of story creation…Doug Lipman explains the difference between building stories and growing them”: http://storydynamics.squarespace.com/articles/living-fence
  • As a result, Carl created a template file “that I have created for the stories that I want to tell and then try to finagle the facts and details into the little slots in that file.”