2019 ANNUAL REPORT
Another Year for the Books.
Happy third year of StoryMuse!
We have so many things to celebrate together…
Launched Hidden Voices
Third year’s the charm…
They say good things come in threes.
There’s this pattern, a certain rhythm, in folklore, even in good jokes, where the story builds over three moments in time, three visitors, three challenges. Goldilocks had to try everything three times before it was just right.
Each of the first three years of StoryMuse has built upon the last, expanding capacity and possibility.
Still, as I entered into the final quarter of this first three years, I found myself in a “moment of discernment.” The reasons were many and varied, but I suppose, ultimately I just wanted some reassurance, some clarity that this was the path down which I should continue.
The answer, in the end, was a clear and resounding yes.
And now, as I look back on all that was accomplished in Year 3, I’m so glad I’m going to keep going. Because I’m proud.
One of the most exciting outcomes of the moment of discernment is the new website on which you’re reading this report, as well as the new logo and branding that accompany it. It’s the result of hours of work and consideration.
I’m excited to be launching forward with a renewed spirit, and a renewed commitment to the work of transformational storytelling in personal, professional, organizational, and community development.
And, so, just like they used to say on “Schoolhouse Rock,” …three is a magic number!
“The past and the present and the future/
Faith and hope and charity/
The heart and the brain and the body/
Give you three as a magic number’“
One thing I want to really highlight is how much my coaching practice took off this year. It expanded and deepened my work. I’m especially intrigued by how my work with individuals resonates with organizational clients and vice versa.
I worked with some amazing individuals, all of whom had such different goals in their storytelling, from developing stories for written publication to honing their presentation skills to gathering momentum to leave a job and start something new!
Individual coaching is a pure delight for me. I hope to continue to bring new experience, research, and insight to my practice in 2020!
HELPING PEOPLE FIND & TELL THEIR STORIES
FOR PERSONAL & PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Society for Neuroscience
In an interesting crossover between my coaching practice and nonprofit clients, I won a national contract in 2019 to provide coaching for presenters involved in a storytelling session at SfN’s Annual Meeting. The goal of the storytelling session was to convey information in a different and more engaging manner than the traditional scientific presentations that take place at the meeting. The Storytelling Symposium brought together neuroscientific discovery, science reporting, and personal storytelling in a synergetic and memorable way. Lectures interwove with personal stories to showcase the effective ways in which neuroscience researchers and journalists can collaborate, how storytelling provides a common ground between science and art, and the power of narrative to hold captive our storytelling brains.
The GCDD Storytelling Project
The ride that expanded my vision and brought hundreds of new voices to the table…
As I compiled the first StoryMuse annual report, closing out that first year, I had just landed StoryMuse’s first major sustaining contract. That was was the beginning of a long and fruitful relationship with the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities.
Throughout 2018, I traveled the state of Georgia with photographers, collecting stories of people with developmental disabilities for advocacy purposes. By the end of that year, there were nearly 75 stories on file from across the state’s 56 legislative districts.
At the end of that first year, the GCDD came back to me with a proposal to continue working together in 2019. This time, they wanted to do a deeper dive, creating 25 all-new stories out of multiple interviews where we would meet people in their homes, as well as in their workplaces, at therapies, in their places of worship, and in the places where they liked to have fun and gather with their community.
I gave the GCDD my enthusiastic yes!, but I also let them know I felt there was a podcast in the stories we were cultivating.
Fortunately, they agreed.
We worked all year to create the all-new seven-episode series, Hidden Voices. If you haven’t already, I hope you’ll consider tuning into this outstanding collection of stories.
The people you will hear are kids, young adults, college students, athletes, employees, adults, entrepreneurs, siblings, parents – all with a story.
These are funny, heartwarming, challenging stories about people who want to be included in social circles, workplaces and communities of their choice. Just like all of us.
The podcast explores issues that impact their lives such as Medicaid waivers, employment, housing, transportation, advocacy, adaptive technology and service animals.
Atlanta Center for Self Sufficiency
“The Safety Show”
at Georgia Tech
In 2019, StoryMuse began a cycle of work with the Atlanta Center for Self Sufficiency, which will continue through the first quarter of 2020. In May, we began with a storytelling and food event which featured formerly homeless program participants, as well as staff and board as they told stories of struggle and triumph.
I worked from fall 2018 through winter 2019 with students at Georgia Tech in their cultivation of heartbreakingly true and funny personal stories for their original production which included both live performance and augmented reality, The Safety Show. This project was, in part, a direct response to the 2017 shooting of a GT student by a police officer.
My ongoing work around stories & grief led me to a brief residency this fall at Kate’s Club, including life maps/intro story workshops with youth in various age groups, as well as a storytelling night with parents and kids together.
Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health
In May 2019, I wrapped up the year-long residency at Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health, where I worked with youth experiencing trauma, some of whom had been commercially sexually exploited.
This workshop at the Wilmington Public Library on the Transformative Power of Storytelling was a follow-up to my keynote the night before on the UNCW Campus.
Fourth year at Young African Leaders Initiative, Georgia State University
LEAD Fall Retreat, Honors College, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies.
“The Transformative Power of Storytelling”
UNC Wilmington School of Public Health,
Center for Healthy Communities
An all-new keynote about the stories we tell ourselves, on a personal, organizational, community, and national level. I encouraged the audience to examine how our stories not only reflect and communicate our spoken and unspoken values but have the transformative power to shape our choices and the future.
Keynotes & Performances
I have been so busy this year with other projects that I’m sad to say I didn’t have as many opportunities to perform as I’d like to.
Still, I did enjoy getting out and about for some pretty fun opportunities, including…
Rabbit Box in Athens (February)
Featured performer at the storytelling stage at the Decatur Arts Festival (May)
Transformative Narratives at Georgia Tech (November)
and, of course, frequent appearances at Carapace, our monthly storytelling show here in Atlanta, which I consider my artistic home.
Press & Publications
Along with lots of new blog posts that helped me (and my audiences) understand my work better, including…
I also appeared in some other people’s publications this year, which made me very proud…
and Closer Look with Rose Scott (see below).
Walks with Grief
At the end of last year, I announced and launched my journey to write my first book.
To date, 75 pages are drafted, and I’ve had substantive conversations with agents, coaches, and publishers
Though I may not be nearly as far on the publication journey as I thought I would be a year since I embarked, it’s been amazing year in all its twists, turns, and travel delays.
One of my favorite parts was November, when I set out to take a walk every single day.
If you’re on social media, I recommend following the hashtags, #walkswithgrief and #30walkshasnovember, as there you will find some of the sweetest stories (and some of the best photography) I’ve ever done.
I look forward to continuing the Walks with Grief project in 2020. There’s so much rich material there to be mined.
THE BIG NEXT
So, what’s on tap for next year, you ask?
I’m so pleased to be able to share…
Monticello Area Community Action – Charlottesville, VA – January 2020 – an introductory residency around how their community tells stories about overcoming poverty
Intro to Storytelling for Professional Development with Cobb County School System Social Workers – February 2020
Atlanta Center for Self Sufficiency – February 2020 – continuing our work together and culminating with a performance on February 27
Chris 180’s The Spot – March/April 2020 – Thanks to a grant from Alternate ROOTS, I will be in a 7-week residency with this drop-in center for older homeless and precariously housed youth.
and, of course, continued work on Walks with Grief…