Everyone has a story to tell. Perhaps the greatest gift one human being can share with another is the thoughtful exchange of a personal experience. Transcending time and space the narrative arch is a wonderful bridge that connects the hearts and minds of a single person or an excited crowd gathered just to listen.
In a celebration of Madison storytellers the nonprofit organization Sustain Dane partnered with Living In Balance to showcase the emerging talents of local narrators. Sponsored by the energy company Madison Gas & Electric the event welcomed ordinary citizens to tell a personal story of their lives that relates to idea of sustainability. At Cargo Coffee on East Washington, near the Capital Square, 10 participants of the 2018 Megaphone Storytelling Workshops recounted their precious memories of the past in the intimated setting of a modern story slam.
“There’s a lot of joy in seeing so many of you in the workshops we’ve had over the last couple of weeks,” said Mario Garcia Sierra of MG&E. “Hopefully you will learn a lot today from these stories and hopefully you’ll get some ideas for your own stories that you will want to share in the future. I believe there is a lot of momentum here and I’m looking forward to what the Megaphone evolves to.”
“User engagement and experience has become a major focus for any web-based service in recent years”
Each presenter at the Story Slam, hosted by writing coach Takeyla Benton, offered up a 5-minute tale of what sustainability means to them. The narratives ranged broadly from Patsy Brooks’ story of how she was inspired to become a teacher to the events that led Gene Delcourt to start a business making wooden caskets for green burials. Cara Erickson, a marketing and communications at the Aldo Leopold Nature Center, shared her first experience portaging her 80-pound boat through the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. University of Wisconsin soil scientist Carolyn Betz read a poignant essay on the end of family’s tradition of milking dairy cows. With grace and charm comedian Dina Nina Martinez illustrated the bittersweet agony of her life as a transgender woman. And Jessie Lerner, the executive director of Sustain Dane, confessed how much she hates answering the question, “What do you do?”
At the core of every story rest the seeds of connection, a profound opportunity for community engagement. Though deeply personal and specific to the life experiences of the individual storyteller, each narrative allows every member of the audience to relate, in some way, to similar circumstances or occurrences in their own lives. From that discreet point of contact there is a spark of energy and like the magnet attraction of charged particles in a molecule a bond is formed. And in that moment the power of story brings us all together.
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