January 06, 2008

Applied Wisdom: The Storyteller and Listener Online

Holly Stevens' blog, The Storyteller and Listener Online, is subtitled "essays on the role of narrative and story in peacemaking, healing, bridge building and reconciliation."

Her blog's milieu is applied storytelling, that is, storytelling and the use of story in the service of a larger goal.

It is also unique in that Holly prefers to act as a behind the scenes editor. Most of the content on the site is not her own words. Yet her vision and voice shine through. Since 2005, Holly has been inviting story practicioners to share their experiences from the field. The collection of voices has been astounding. From all over the world, contributors have shared their experiences of using storytelling to bring communities together, to come to terms with illness, with grief, with addiction, with recovery, with incarceration, with reconciliation, with isolation. Her quest to seek out these people and invite them to share their stories has been a personal passion of hers, but also a gift to the world.

For performance storytellers like myself (whose main focus is the performing arts), The Storyteller and Listener Online provides a welcome window into an active and engaged part of the storytelling community.

Reading these essays serve as a reminder of the potency of story, the possibilities that art offers in healing body and soul, and the diversity of fields in which storytelling has found a niche.

And occasionally, the essays even offer a shot across the bow of the entire storytelling community (performers and producers included): check out this spirited panel of six contributors (in a Q&A format) discuss on the role of storytelling in community development. In a posting from October 2007, panelists Andre Heuer, Laura Simms, Brian Herod, Arlene Goldbard, Paul Conway, and Katrice Horsley discuss pertinent topics such as: what is storytelling? what are people's perceptions of storytelling? what are the self-imposed limits the storytelling community has created and accepted? what is the impact of storytelling and what are the limits to this impact? does contemporary storytelling need to be re-invented?

This essay alone could generate enough blog discussion to fuel a year's worth of postings here. (And if things get slow, I think I'll come back here to find some provocation to get me going....)

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