February 12, 2008
Well, it's no surprise (to anyone who's taken a glance at the links in the left column of this blog) that storyteller Eric Wolf would turn up on my list of thought leaders in the storytelling community.
It's a pity that Eric Wolf named his podcast "The Art of Storytelling With Children," if only because I don't consider children my main audience, so I ignored his show for a long time.
Eric Wolf's roster of guests reads like a who's who of presenters from regional and national storytelling conferences.
What's more: while talking with Eric, the guests, all of whom share practical advice and hard-earned wisdom, don't limit themselves to storytelling with children.
From marketing to artistic process to community outreach to education, Eric's guests will provide anyone interested in storytelling with useful information from diverse perspectives.
(And yes, if you work with children, you will also get practical advice on performing for those audiences).
Each podcast takes the form of an interview, done via conference call, recorded as is, and then archived on the Web. The beauty of the conference call feature is that it allows listeners to participate, and ask questions of the guest.
The work Eric is doing here is profound in so many ways. It's elegantly simple, and yet, within the storytelling community, it's avant garde:
First, he seeks out people that he wants to learn from. He's not setting himself up as the expert. He's inviting the experts onto his show. (Also, his interview style does a fine job of modeling attentive listening)
Second, he invites us to not only listen in, but participate in the discussion, both on the conference call, and via comments on each episode's web page.
Third, he maximizes accessibility: you can listen via iTunes, you can download any of the shows, or you can just click around on the Web site and listen.
Fourth, he makes this invaluable learning resource available for free.
Just last year I was bemoaning (on Storytell, my personal choice of virtual community when I want to beat my head against a wall) that as a national community, we are still stuck in a travel-far-away-and-overcome-obstacles-to-get-wisdom model. Very mythological. Very Joseph Campbell. But very frustrating in this digital age.
I'm glad to see that someone has taken the technological tools available and created a new model.
I know you didn't create the podcast for my sole benefit, Eric, but I have to say thanks.