Tuesday, March 28, 2017

A Storyteller’s Toolkit for Troubled Times

2017: Many of my storytelling colleagues really want to find stories to tell now when our country is so fragmented. This is a collection of such stories and videos (which can inspire stories) which might help unify our country.

2020: Now in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, I think these stories are even more relevant since they help lift our spirits as we face the coming weeks. Please share them.

There are four pages with stories and videos on these topics:
  • Reasons for hope
  • Doing what you can
  • The American mosaic: honoring all of us and our stories
  • Building bridges
     Here are four stories which fit all these categories.

     March 24, 2020 Huntsville, Alabama  Even as most Alabamians are staying at home right now due to the coronavirus pandemic, Rodney Smith Jr. continues mowing as many yards in the Huntsville area as possible. Only now, in addition to mowing for the elderly, disabled, single mothers and veterans, free of charge, Rodney is delivering food and supplies as well. Rodney knows how much his work is appreciated, and he gets as much joy from homeowners’ reactions as they do. “When she opened the door and saw the items,” he wrote on Facebook of one elderly client recently, “she yelled, ‘YAY!’ Seeing her happy this morning made my day.” This is just a continuation of work Rodney started in 2015 when he was a student at Alabama A&M University in Huntsville, Rodney, a native of Bermuda, has dedicated himself to mowing lawns for free in all 50 states. By 2016, he had started a nonprofit organization, Raising Men Lawn Care Service, whose motto is “Making a difference one lawn at a time.”

March 12, 2015 Lincoln Middle School, Kenosha, Wisconsin  Desiree, a cheerleader, was bullied by fans at a basketball game because she has Down Syndrome. Then these young basketball players stood up and confronted the bullies, explaining that their behavior was not acceptable and should not happen again. After the game was over, they told the head of the Athletics Department about the incident and asked that an anti-bullying school policy be established. To show their support of Desiree, the school renamed the gym D's House.

 August, 2018 Georgia, USA This unlikely and extraordinary friendship between a former member of the KKK and a Syrian refugee who both live in Georgia proves that hate is often times just a cry for help. Their friendship started when one man told a story and the other man listened.

December 19, 2016 Salem, Oregon  Every Monday afternoon, the Parks close their traditional Korean restaurant but continue preparing food, both Korean and American. At 4:00 p.m., with help from their church pastor and congregation, they serve 200 hungry people who wait for then under a bridge. The Parks pay for all the food. Mrs. Park says, “I do good by God’s grace, not my own strength. Just God’s grace and God’s glory.”

A program title such as "The Kindness of Strangers" would allow you to tell some of these stories without you having to say outright, "Our country is so fragmented. I'm sharing these stories with you to help unify our country."

I’ve been collecting such stories and videos for a few months. I'd love YOU to tell these stories and share these videos and/or create stories inspired by these videos.

Of course, for any material which has a copyright, you must get permission from the publisher or author before you can tell it, except in cases of fair use. Click here for more information on fair use.

I’d also love YOU to contribute stories and videos you know about by commenting on the appropriate page(s).

By contributing an original story to this web site, you are giving permission for people to tell your original story.

If you are telling someone’s original story mentioned on this web site, please follow these rules (based on Jane Yolen's rules to storytellers.)
  1. Always mention the name of the author before each telling.
  2. Don’t change the ending.
  3. If you want to record your telling of the story in any way (paper, video, audio, Internet, TV, etc.) you must get permission from the author and possibly pay a fee. 

Ariel Sky Williams                              Hamdi Ulukaya

 - see The American Mosaic

Note: Thanks to Margaret French who created the phrase "American Mosaic" and who listened to my initial ideas and improved them.

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