A Community of Storytellers

I recently returned from the National Storytelling Network’s annual conference in Kansas City with an evangelist’s desire to bring ALL of my storytelling friends into this community. I joined the board in December without knowing too much about the organization, other than it’s been around for a long time and is focused on providing guidance and a community for storytellers.

A community for storytellers.

Until I attended the conference and met storytellers from all over the country and all over the world who have been telling rich, beautiful stories (and getting paid for it) for 20, 30, 40 years, I didn’t realize how empowering, helpful and joyful it could be to join forces with people who are just like me.

While I have felt a kinship with my storytelling friends ever since I first got up on a Moth stage to tell a story two years ago, I never felt there was an organization that had my best interests at heart and offered me resources to learn and grow in this art form.

I’ll be honest – until I attended the conference, I didn’t know if NSN was that organization, either. I’d heard rumblings that certain elders were fairytale-telling old ladies with flowing skirts and closed minds about the kind of personal narrative storytelling that captured my heart.

What I found was the exact opposite.

Storytellers steeped in traditional storytelling welcomed me and asked what they could do to help me and others like me grow our art form, and get paid for it. The executive director of a storytelling festival that draws in 40,000 people each year heard me emcee the weekend’s story slam and asked me to recommend storytellers he can invite to future festivals.

I heard traditional storytellers spin powerful tales that touched hearts and souls and minds. I learned how to apply for grants and storytelling veterans talked about how they commanded and demanded payment for their work commensurate to their experience and artistry.

Membership to NSN only costs $75 per year. If you’re a storyteller, I urge you to join. I’d be happy to discuss offline all the benefits I see from membership and how strengthening this organization with younger, vibrant storytellers will lift all storytellers up, but I can tell you that it’s the best $75 I’ve spent this year.

And mark your calendars for the next conference in Kansas City next July. It literally blew my mind and I made so many new friends and colleagues who are sure to become an integral part of my storytelling life in the years ahead.

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