StoryMuse turns five!!
Through extraordinary stories of grief and triumph, through having too many projects and maybe sometimes not quite enough, through road trips and pandemic isolation, StoryMuse is still here, with an open ear, always eager to hold up a mic to the stories that need to be told.
The one-year experiment is turning five as we close down this year. There’s so much to celebrate and be grateful for–you are at the top of that list.
Stay tuned for details about our 5-year party & storytelling show in early 2022!
Watch the StoryMuse Intro Video
Over the course of the 2016-17 academic year, I returned to Virginia Tech to do a storytelling residency for the ten-year mark of the 2007 shooting that happened there. The residency included workshops, guest lectures, community meetings, and public performances. To cap off, I directed a storytelling show, Stories of (Be)longing at The Lyric Theatre on April 16, 2017. This project was funded by an Alternate ROOTS Project Development Grant, as well as by the Moss Arts Center.
An evening length show at 7 Stages, Trigger Warning featured eight people telling stories about everyday encounters with trauma and violence. It was funded by a private grant and was a partnership under the guidance of, raising money for, and highlighting the mission of Men Stopping Violence.
In 2018-19, I was in residence at Devereux in Kennesaw, Georgia, providing a storytelling program to youth who live there. Each cycle of the program lasted 6-7 weeks. The first and second cycles in Spring and Fall 2018 were dedicated to teenage girls who have been commercially sexually exploited, also known as sex or human trafficking. In Winter and Spring 2019, I worked with other special populations at the facility who have extreme trauma, anxiety, and behavioral disorders.
The Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD) Story Collection Project is a collection of stories representing the experience of individuals living with a developmental disability in Georgia.
Telling Our Stories, the compiled collection of stories and professional photographs, is instrumental in the advocacy efforts of GCDD to advocate for Georgians living with disabilities. I wrote something like 75 1000-word stories for this project over the course of two years. It is now a book that is put in the hands of legislators regularly, as well as a thriving website with an interactive map of Georgia where you can zone in on the stories.
The Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities, StoryMuse, and a coalition of other awesome creative partners including Resurgens Impact Consulting, Frqncy Media, and L’arche Atlanta made a podcast out of the first year of the stories I’d helped to write. It took us the better part of that second year to make and launch Hidden Voices. They have since released Season 2, so if you’re interested in going back to listen to the season I helped make, scroll back to the beginning.
In the fall of 2019, I had a mini-residency with Kate’s Club, a local organization that serves children and youth in grief. Over the course of a few weekends, I conducted life maps and story development workshops with the youth. The residency culminated with a Family Night gathering where parents and youth were encouraged to throw their names in a hat and share stories about any and everything–not just their grief journeys.
Atlanta Center for Self-Sufficiency attained a grant from the Fulton County Arts Council to have StoryMuse create a show to raise awareness about the organization featuring current / former clients who were building their way out of being unhoused, alongside everyday citizens of the community. Following our production, I stayed on with ACSS to provide content development services, writing up the client stories from our performance and creating web stories.
Youth & young adults, either currently unhoused or in the process of building their way out, were the storytellers in this unique, intensive partnership with The Spot at CHRIS 180. The project was originally conceived of in the beforetimes. After the pandemic hit, we wanted to make sure that these folx were not left behind during the long stretch of summer when many service options were shut down. The work was supported by a grant from Alternate ROOTS, as well as an Indiegogo campaign, in order to pivot the program from its original conception (inside, over the course of 7 weeks, with a live theatre performance) to happen in one week, outside, under tents, filmed, and pop-up / interactive, drive-in movie style. This became a model for an arc of three projects during the pandemic.
A perfect marriage of the GCDD Storytelling Project and Shelter & Place, after an extensive workshop and coaching process, this project culminated Summer 2021, when we hit the road to host six pop-up shows in Columbus, Savannah, Macon, Athens, Dahlonega, and Atlanta. Along with the long-term partners, L’arche Atlanta and Resurgens Impact Consulting, we had countless partners along the way, especially Xerophile Studios, who made our gorgeous films. Thanks to indomitable local teams, each show was like its own mini-festival, featuring some combination of food trucks, local bands, and art vendors.
The City of Atlanta’s Elevate Art Festival: Revival generously funded the Pittsburgh Community Market and StoryMuse to produce an evening-length film and event on October 30, 2021. Intergenerational pairings of older, “legacy” residents and newer residents told stories about the Pittsburgh neighborhood’s past, this extraordinary current moment in which we now find ourselves, as well as the stories they’d like to come true in the future.
Each StoryMuse project that culminated with a performance or film is archived on the YouTube page.
Here are some of my best-loved stories from across the past five years…
What are the things you can never forget about the hardest days of your life? A police officer compares the noises and silences after being one of the first responders into the building at the Virginia Tech shootings on April 16, 2007.
When her home was under attack, Tiffany Courtney made the choice to get out her gun to protect herself. Home invasion foiled, however, she called the police and found herself in the tricky position of being a black woman standing in front of a police officer who knew she had a gun. For Tiffany, “hands up, don’t shoot” took on a new, complicated layer of meaning in how she moves through the world.
US Army veteran Tammy Tyree talks about her journey through darkness that leads toward the light, especially about how sexual harassment in the military led her on a spiraling journey through PTSD, anxiety, and depression. Today, thanks to support from ACSS and many others, she is rebuilding life on her own terms.
Smitty’s story about the power of unconditional love and learning how to “just float” remains a seminal moment of 2020, and of my entire storytelling career. It’s a lesson we all need to hear. May we all find and know the exquisite gift of that person who helps us just float.
Jessica Winowich tells a beautiful, challenging story about her journey with and love of both the church and the theatre and what it was like to be told she wasn’t up to the part.
When Rayshard Brooks was murdered by police in the Pittsburgh neighborhood in 2020, Kym Crooms used it as an opportunity to meditate on what it means to truly live in a community full of diversity.
Coaching clients one-on-one in the development of their stories is at the very heart of my practice.
To date, I’ve coached nearly 175 individuals and clocked almost 400 coaching hours.
Now you can enjoy story coaching with StoryMuse at your own pace with my digital curriculum.
“Shannon’s curriculum is world class. Her words have impact, whether she is telling a story or coaching other passionate individuals. Her dedication to this art, and to developing this skill in others is commendable! I thoroughly enjoy working with Shannon. I utilize the art of storytelling in my professional realm to focus the impact of my words, and in my personal life to process experiences. The ability to build community from words, to establish connections from shared experiences, and the courage to articulate, are not taught in traditional corporate or education settings. These are the real ways in which StoryMuse is changing our Atlanta community, and the world.”
“The purpose of our project was to engage the broader community in the work of poverty alleviation through employment readiness and job placement programs. The outcome was an event that really opened people’s eyes and hearts.
Shannon has an amazing way of getting to the essence of who people are and empowering them to share it in a way that is authentic and approachable. Shannon is a masterful communicator who sheds light on things that matter and is able to help others to do the same. I recommend Shannon as a communications and project manager consultant.”
Start a new Story Today
StoryMuse offers storytelling techniques as a tool for
personal discernment, team building, and community development
in effort to cultivate a world where all stories are heard and honored.