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Green Storytelling, Bread for the Soul and David Whyte

Written on May 27, 2015

 

I just got asked three great questions about storytelling and my upcoming Green Storytelling workshop in Indigiscapes, Capalaba.

    1. Why tell stories? (in an age of mass distraction)

    2. How can stories help ME? (ie: in this ‘i-generation)

    3. What can story do for our world environment that won’t otherwise happen? (ie: Why MUST people come to this workshop if they seek a sustainable human future)…

 Great questions. The very dynamic Cr Paul Bishop asked them. He contacted me because he loved the sound of my “Green Storytelling” workshop being held in his Redlands municipality in Brisbane, June 13. Paul was an actor you may have seen on Australian TV -most famously in ‘Blue Heelers’- until he had an epiphany, founded Arts Evolution, which is committed to fostering sustainable human futures and became a local Councillor. Paul suggested a video answering the questions would be good too! Making that is now on my Next Week’s To Do List!

 I am starting with the first question   1. Why tell stories? (in an age of mass distraction)

To do, so I am reposting a 2011 blog I wrote, which quotes the inspirational poet David Whyte. *

I am a professional storyteller. People sometimes look at me blankly when I tell them what I do. “A storyteller?” A confused silence ensues. “Does that mean you …um…read books to children?”

Children are usually not as confused. They just hear the word ‘story’ and get excited. Yes, even this generation of digital natives, will usually sit excitedly, waiting for me to begin.

Adults who find themselves being told a story, sink into a deep calm. They are often amazed at just how much they enjoyed being told a story- something they thought was just for children.

Before I experienced my first storytelling concert, I may well have asked a similar question. It was a concert at the Relaxation Centre in Brisbane in the late eighties. I was attracted by his name: ‘Floating Eagle Feather’. He told us tales from his American Indian tradition from the heart, with dignity and grace. I was deeply moved. As we left, he warmly and humbly shook our hands as a Minister would at the church door. 

Audience Living Earth Festival.

Jenni’s audience at The Living Earth Festival, Mullumbimby Community Gardens.

Stories tap into a very ancient experience, one we have been engaging in since we first began communicating. Research has shown that the human brain is hard-wired to receive information in the form of stories. A listener’s retention of information jumps dramatically if it is given within an anecdote or story. It is an ideal way to get a message across and an especially powerful tool for teachers. It can help us tap into a deeper wisdom. Storytelling can also be used therapeutically, to model problem solving, foster emotional resilience or help people debrief from traumatic experiences. In this Age of Information, we are constantly overloaded with vast amounts of contradictory and confusing information. This makes us hungry for soulful communication. Good stories are food for the soul.

There is a beautiful Scottish Traveller Proverb which explains ‘age of mass distraction’: ‘The story is told eye to eye, mind to mind and heart to heart.’

Audience member, The Living Earth Festival, Mullumbimby Community Gardens.

The inspirational poet, David Whyte explains why we need stories more than ever in this ‘age of mass distraction’. Here is an extract from ‘Loaves and Fishes’

This is not
 the age of information.

This is not the age of information.

Forget the news, 
and the radio, 
and the blurred screen.

This is the time 
of loaves 
and fishes.

People are hungry 
and one good word

is bread for a thousand.

from The House of Belonging ©1996 Many Rivers Press

If you want to see some environmental storytelling in action or hear me explain ‘Why Stories Are so Powerful’, go to my You Tube channel.

* David Whyte just happens to be touring Australia now and will be in my neck of the woods (Byron) this Saturday. When I replied to Cr Bishop with the quote above, he said,

“Unfathomable.

“The bloke I was speaking about this morning, Daryl Taylor, who lost his house and observed fragmentation within his community in the Black Saturday bushfires is a community development officer and strategic thinker of the highest order. I spent last night and this morning interviewing Daryl. His recent obsession with David Whyte lead to me being given a copy of his CDs which I have begun listening to today.

“Cue the unfolding zeitgeist…”

Stay tuned for answers to the next two questions and the video! I will be mixing with lots of environmental thinkers this Sunday as I ponder my answers to the remaining questions at the ‘Leaf Festival’ in Logan, where I’ll tell some green tales. Do join me if you live near Logan in Brisbane!

Sunday, 31st May, Storytelling for Families, Leaf Festival: Refill not Landfill, Griffith University Logan campus at Meadowbrook, 3 x 30 mins sessions. Times: 10.30 am, 12.30 and 2pm

Enrol now for my ‘Green Storytelling’ workshop, Sunday 16 June, 2015  here.

FB Event page here 

Jenni Cargill-Strong tells nature tales from her "Story Tree" album at The Living Earth Festival, Mullumbimby Community Gardens.

Jenni Cargill-Strong tells nature tales from her “Story Tree” album at The Living Earth Festival, Mullumbimby Community Gardens.

 

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