Monday, September 15, 2014

What Happens When Storyellers Set up Shop?

The snowball effect.

(I met Anna Eyre this summer when she worked with Raising A Reader in Lawrence.  She is a keen observer and longtime wordsmith and became attracted to storytelling.  Anna volunteered to help facilitate the Stories in the Streets workshop tent at Bread & Roses Heritage Festival.  I welcome her comments.)

Even though the heat soared well into the nineties and was thick with humidity, under the shade of Stories in the Street’s canopy, story fluttered.  Beginning with a woman’s exclamation that the place so many have been following in this historic show of customer and employee support is, as she said, “my Market Basket,” story took to the wind and began to bring people in. Rather than standing around the fire, we gathered around a small stool and modest microphone to hear an Abenaki tale of the sweetness of hard work, the tale of a friend who could perhaps become a lover, a
father’s journey with his son, and others.  Soon a man stood to tell us of the untapped potential that resides in cities like Lawrence and how he, after speaking with new friends at another festival similar to Bread & Roses, had been contacted by a high school student.  He went on to tell of how he became a mentor and friend to the student who he then helped get into and go to college. 

The Bread & Roses Heritage Festival brings community members together to celebrate the ways in which our individual stories can be heard and snowball into a force that catalyzes positive change.  The story of how the Market Basket dispute affected one of the storytellers brought the larger dispute close to home and made us understand how a group of caring people can change labor and stand strong until what they believe in becomes a reality.  The story of how one of our storytellers unwittingly became a mentor inspired us to take social justice into our own hands and find a way to make a difference in the life of a person whose potential might otherwise have gone untapped.

We all have a story to tell and when we begin to tell them, others want to tell their stories as well.  Story is magnetic.  By the end of the day, the canopy that had housed three story tellers to start, housed more than fifteen.  One story reminded a person of another story and so on.  When we hear one another’s stories, we hear how we are related to one another no matter how different we may appear to be.  The Bread & Roses festival celebrates our ability to unite and what better way to unite than through individual story?

Anna Elena Eyre

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