The storytelling labyrinth

Regular readers of Story Route and those of you who are Facebook friends will likely recognize A Storied Career. It’s Kathy Hansen’s “Blog to explore traditional and postmodern forms/uses of storytelling”. Even in the middle of a cross-country move, Kathy continues to post provocative and fascinating entries on a dizzyingly wide array of storytelling topics.

So when she asked if I would participate in her Q&A series, I was honored. She sent a list of questions to choose from, all of them well crafted and designed to set my mind racing.

I’ve excerpted a few excerpts below. The whole Q&A is available on A Storied Career. While you’re there download the e-book she created with her first forty online interviews: Storied Careers: 40+ Story Practitioners Talk about Applied Storytelling

Here are the excerpts:

Can you elaborate on how you applied your experience as a performance storyteller to your new career [as a community developer]?

The realization was not instantaneous. For the first while, I had the usual worries: Someone would find out I was actually a storyteller masquerading as a community developer. Then it would be game up.

What happened instead was that I began to insert stories into presentations and to use storytelling techniques to prepare reports. It wasn’t long before I was seen as a storytelling community developer. Or was it a community organizing storyteller?

How did you initially become involved with story/storytelling/narrative?

Storytelling became the underpinning of everything I did. When I look back on the unexpected twists and turns of my professional life, I feel extraordinarily lucky. Storytelling allowed me to be happily employed, doing what I loved. Initially, I thought that meant performing and workshops. When that morphed into the world of community development, I realized I’d found my niche and have been happy in that ever since.

To what extent and in what ways do you feel these venues [Web 2.0 and social media] are storytelling media?

The various social media are a means of entering the world of story from different points. We can assume an avatar and jump into Second Life. We can try out a new story and test it on Twitter or Facebook. We can blog a different perspective and see who responds, and how. We can invent our professional persona on LinkedIn.

To me, it’s all part of the larger arena of storytelling. If we don’t fall into the trap of becoming an observer, if we actually engage and become creative contributors, we can experiment with creating new stories.

What’s your favorite story about a transformation that came about through a story or storytelling act?

Although I know many instances of transformation through a story or storytelling act, I keep coming back to two I had the honour of witnessing. Both were published in The Healing Heart~Communities and are on my Catching Courage blog.

As a transplant from the US, what similarities and differences do you observe in the storytelling environment between the two neighbor nations?

John Ralston Saul may have the answer in his extraordinary book, A Fair Country. He points out that one of the major differences between the US and Canada is the latter’s Métis roots (which he also says we ignore at our peril). Saul writes that the first European arrivals had an egalitarian relationship with the First Nations people who were already here, a relationship destroyed by latter settlers, who brought cultural genocide.

Read the whole interview on A Storied Career.

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