The Beginning of a Storyteller

It’s been a while since I wrote. I’ve been at the “crossroads” again in my life and it’s been occupying a lot of my time.

I wanted to share how I’ve come back to myself and it all started with a choice I made many years ago that was a first for me in California, and here I am, attending a Summer Institute with the StoryCenter in Berkeley, California, which is another first for me – both times I was at a crossroads in my life and here I am again.

The first time I was here back in 2009, I was blown away by my choice to become a storytelling facilitator, and now this first, at the StoryCenter, has reaffirmed, has lifted me back up of why I love story work. Enjoy.

You Never Know

The Beginning Story of being a Digital Storyteller facilitator.

Long Live Storytelling!

Resource to Explore: StoryCenter

Facilitation and Ethical Considerations

I love helping people to tell their stories, especially with the communities I serve. I’ve been a firm believer that whoever tells the stories controls the narrative, so for me, besides the love of stories, it is a form of advocacy and is a way to help communities to control how their story is told and shared.

As a storyteller facilitator, you need to have many skills to be a good facilitator. You need to be able to guide, not direct, on how best to help the storytellers share their story. A good facilitator will have:

  • Strong facilitation skills
  • Ability to create safe space
  • Ability to create a sharing space
  • Good to great technology troubleshooting skills (including image and video editing)
  • Good to great people troubleshooting skills 🙂
  • Able to think creatively
  • Superb listening skills
  • Excellent negotiation skills
  • Strong desire to help people be successful

This list may seem like it is asking a lot, but in all the years I’ve been doing storytelling, these are skills I have seen that are needed in order to have a great learning experience with your storytellers.

There is also another big item that storytelling facilitators need to excel at and that is: Ethics in Storytelling. It’s important to be clear to the funders of the story workshop and the storytellers (participants) about what and how the stories will be used. It needs to be shared with the storytellers:

  • What the end goal of the story project is.
  • Where will these stories be shown.
  • How and why they will they be used.
  • What control will participants have over reproduction and distribution.

We have a digital storytelling release form that every storyteller needs to sign. It clearly addresses the above, and is written with all possible ways the stories will be shared and participants are able to check off which ones they agree to, such as using the stories in an educational setting, a presentation at a conference, and/or the company internet site, etc. In the workshop pre-planning stages, we work with the funding organization to answer these questions and customize the release form to each workshop.

Please note: The release form only covers the final published video, we do not keep the images or any other story development items – those belong to the storyteller, as does the finalized story, and we are granted permission to use those stories per the release form.

This is only a snippet of what makes a good facilitator, and will talk more about Ethics in Storytelling again.

Long live storytelling!
Laura

Story Guide

As a storytelling guide (facilitator), you encounter all kinds of stories and to cause no harm in your story work. Sometimes with some of those stories emotions happen, and you as the facilitator need to ensure you provide safe space for all, resources, and help if need be.

If you are not comfortable with strong emotions, certain topics, and being able to hold safe space for all the storytellers, maybe being a storytelling guide is not for you, and that’s OK.

There is so much you have to consider when you decide to step into this type of facilitation role; besides handling strong emotions, your language, including your body language, needs to be as neutral as possible, and you don’t offer advice, but instead, ask questions to help guide the conversation. There is also power dynamics within your group you need to be aware of as well as cultural diversity to think about.

You also have to realize it’s not about you. Being a facilitator is NEVER about you, it’s about the learners, the storytellers, and the stories. You also need to understand and respect that each storyteller brings something to the table – so the learning process is dynamic, a 2-way process, and not about how much you know or about your stories.

For me, being a storytelling guide has been one of the greatest works I’ve been honored to participate in. I’ve been facilitating digital storytelling workshops for 10+ years and my story facilitating skills continues to grow as I learn something new with every workshop I’ve done Y and it is something I hope to do for a long-time to come. If I cannot be a storytelling facilitator, then let me continue to be a story keeper or carrier and continue to honor the story and storytellers I’ve met Y

Here’s some resources to help you think about before you facilitate a story workshop:

Transformative Storytelling for Social Change – Before the Story Circle: https://www.transformativestory.org/what-are-the-methods-for-transformative-storytelling/personal-storytelling-digital-storytelling/steps-to-the-digital-storytelling-process/before-the-story-circle/

Transformative Storytelling for Social Change – Ethical Practice: https://www.transformativestory.org/good-practice-in-transformative-storytelling/ethical-practice/

UC Davis – Facilitating a Story Circle: https://ucanr.edu/sites/tfc/files/134496.pdf

Community Toolbox – Section 2. Developing Facilitation Skills: https://ctb.ku.edu/en/table-of-contents/leadership/group-facilitation/facilitation-skills/main

5 Things Never to Say to Someone who is Struggling: https://www.elephantjournal.com/2018/04/5-things-never-to-say-to-someone-who-is-struggling/

And also, you need to take care of yourself as a group facilitator: https://www.stroke.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Taking-Care-of-Yourself-as-a-Support-Group-Facilitator.pdf

Not a link but you should look at your state’s requirement, and your organization’s requirement for “Mandated Reporting” there’s somethings you may hear that require you contacting public safety officials, such as Elder abuse or child abuse.

This is by no means a complete list, just things to help you think about as you start your storytelling journey, and to help you think about what kind of training you’ll need before guiding your first story workshop.

Story on peeps, story on.

  • Laura

Telling Through Story

Quote about Telling

Once upon a time, we shared our stories as a way to share our knowledge to help us all go forward together, to learn, to know what was safe and acceptable, and what wasn’t. It was the way we grew as people and survived. We shared our stories, we heard them, helped where needed, and we all moved on. It provided a cultural framework for sharing our ways of being.

Stories had many purposes in our communities:

  • Established origin of life and values
  • Education and life lessons
  • Healing
  • Humor
  • History
  • Bring Understanding
  • Structure to our lives – understand our place in the world

There are many other purposes of story that have been used in our communities, however for many years, we were silenced and were not able to share our stories. Silence then became a way of survival, of showing strength, of hiding shame, of silencing our way of being.

We need to share our stories to help our communities and those who will come after; to once again learn from our stories, honor our stories, and help us all grow forward.

Resource

Native Daughters – Native Storytellers Connect the Past and The Future: http://cojmc.unl.edu/nativedaughters/storytellers/native-storytellers-connect-the-past-and-the-future

Your Story

In the words of David Walsh, author, “Whoever Tells the Stories Defines the Culture”.

or…

I also like to say “Whoever Tells the Story, Controls the Narrative.”

So who are you letting tell your story? Who is telling your community story?

It is essential for us to share our stories, and to speak our stories instead of letting others tell their interpretation of it. We share our life lessons, knowledge, traditions, and even our humor through our stories. If our ancestors did not share stories, some of us may not be here today. Most of all, share your story, because it matters, you matter, and no one can tell it the way you can…

The Powerful Reason You Should Tell Your Story

Today’s post is going to be a little different. Instead of focusing on the mechanics of writing, I’m going to dive into something more important: you need to tell your story. Here’s why. For a lot of us, this has been a rough year, a tiring year, a painful year.