Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Story Consulting

School assemblies are difficult. They're unpredictable in that you have a number of variables out of your control, from student behavior to forgetful PTA parents to cranky front office staff... but... school assemblies are the bread and butter of most storytellers. It's where the money is...

Unless, of course, you can speak the language of business. There's a whole subset of "knowledge management" called storytelling, although it's got as much in common with getting up and telling stories as butterfly collections have to do with pollination.

Joel Ben Izzy, travelling storyteller, is a storytelling storyteller. He's found a way to move beyond school assemblies without an MBA or a PhD in organizational development. (Thank goodness!)

He's still telling stories, he just happens to find his audiences in corporations: Check out this article from his web site:
Click on the SV Magazine link to get the PDF file.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

NSN keynote - Margaret Read MacDonald

Dr. MacDonald has an impeccable storytelling resume. That doesn't give her the right to use her keynote address to scold the very organization that invited her to speak.

(She was chiding the National Storytelling Network for charging too much money for international memberships.)

Heck, they charge too much for domestic memberships.

It was appropriate in the context of her speech (an overview of international revivalist storytelling, and the challenges and opportunities for collaboration in U.S. storytelling events) to raise the issue, but why not be diplomatic about it?

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Appalachian storytelling blog

Storyteller Stephen Hollen shares his Tall Tales & Mountain Musings-- stories of life in Kentucky, then and now at mountainstories.easyjournal.com

Saturday, May 01, 2004

Online Texas Storytelling Concert

Indian legends, true stories, tall tales, and fractured fairy tales, from University of North Texas School of Library and Information Sciences' Advanced Storytelling class Master's students.

Requires Real Player to see streaming video.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Storyteller Blog

Well, it's about time. A storyteller has finally created a blog about storytelling-- from the storyteller's perspective. I'll be keeping an eye on Mr. Odds Bodkins and his writing.

Thursday, January 08, 2004

A Look at Jonesborough, Tennessee

Jill Jordan Seider travelled to Jonesborough Tennessee for "The Savvy Traveller" radio series. Listen in Real Audio (June 2003)

Later, in October, she wrote about for U.S. News and World Report:

Mother Nature is to blame for global warming. Seems she was watching a bunch of guys ice-fishing. It was so cold their mustaches froze. They'd been staring in a hole (and neglecting their wives) for days. "How did I create this moron?" she asked herself, and she turned up the heat.

At least that's the way Bil Lepp tells it. But don't call the EPA to
share the news. Lepp is a well-known "liar" from West Virginia who shared his fabrications at the National Storytelling Festival earlier this month in the Blue Ridge mountain town of Jonesborough, Tenn.

The festival began in 1973, when 60 people came to hear mountain men and others spin yarns from the back of a hay wagon. In the 30 years since, the old-fashioned art of storytelling has become a 21st-century sensation. This year, 10,500 listeners flocked to Jonesborough. Some 200 annual gatherings take place in the United States. And in 2002, the folks at Jonesborough opened the $10 million International Storytelling Center. Funded primarily by government grants and loans, and affiliated with the Smithsonian, the center hosts summer storytelling and periodic workshops.

Why this burst of popularity? The answer lies in the appeal of a good story. It can make you laugh, like one of Lepp's fibs. And it can bring tears to your eyes, like Donald Davis's tale of the day of his birth. The infant and mother were near death; the terrified father had to run home from the hospital to milk the family cow, which he found chewing on the last row of corn on the Davis farm. In a frenzy, he whipped the
beast, then cried and "bellered" with her. She licked him. "He never did tell me if he licked her," says Davis. "Then my daddy set down, and he milked that sweet old cow. I'd spent my whole life thinking that men feel no pain in childbirth. If I had known about the story sooner, maybe I would've had the grace to not cause him some of the deliberate pain I was so good at dishing out later."

Only a rambling and intimate story can reveal such truths, which tend to be subsumed by the roar of our electronic, visual, and virtual culture. "Nothing in modern media can compare to being face to face with a person and feeling that person's heart and soul being poured into the images and action of their stories," says Joseph Sobol, author of The Storytellers' Journey: An American Revival. "It can be intoxicating."

It certainly is for Andy Saladino, 60, a pathologist from Baltimore who attended the Jonesborough event for the fourth time this year. "It's magical," he says. "It transports you away from all the troubles in the
world and makes you feel more focused on what's really of value."

Burst of popularity? I know this was edited down for a travel piece, but what's so different about the "appeal of a good story" in 2003 that wasn't there pre-1973?