It’s been around a few months – the Storychick Storyphone

So how is it doing?
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I need to get a people counter to track interactions. What I have here are clearly rough estimates.

The phone has appeared at 3 events over the last 3 months, while numbers and interactions vary, I believe it has been quite successful and I’m eager to explore further opportunities!

  • The Key Bank Rochester Fringe Festival – What a great opening run!  I had the big solar booth for this event.  Hundreds of interactions (I was there for much of the time and talked a lot of it).  40 recorded Fringe Stories, 15 non-Fringe stories.  Only 3 stories cut due to inappropriate content – and a few lost because they were unintelligible.  Post-processing is underway to get the related stories back to the Fringe.

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    • The Heritage Maker Fair at Cumming Nature Center – No booth for this one, just me at a table.  The few interactions I had were great and I had some people listening to all 9 stories (some twice).  No new stories that day.

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    • The Rochester Mini Maker Faire – Again no booth, just me at a table.  Lots of great interactions, though.  Rough estimate – 75?  Many listeners and 3 new stories.

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    The conversations and stories have been great!  We have a few things to work on – the phone can get glitchy, the booth will likely be reincarnated.  If the booth is to stand alone for any periods where crowds may visit – I need more extensive signage – as a lot has depended on me talking so far.  But the connections for future potential endeavors (phone deployments) have me quite excited.  I’m starting to follow up on them, now that I have a breather from events.

    I wrote here about the power of Voice – another big finding is the element of physicality from the phone itself.  That will come in my next post – which won’t be months in the making, more like days.

Fall is ripe with stories

There’s a crispness in the air.  More order to the shorter days as school gets underway.  The leaves turn and crunch underfoot.  Apple and pumpkin dominate the flavor scene, like it or not.  And nothing beats a story tied with an autumnal bow.

Ideally while cradling a steaming mug of spiced cider in chilly hands.

But potentially in a booth!  Or nestled amidst forested hills!

The Key Bank Rochester Fringe Festival runs Sept 14-23 and the Storychick Storybooth will be at its heart – in the Spiegelgarden at One Fringe Place, for the duration!  Come, listen to a Fringe story, and leave one of your own!  Come back to catch new stories – I’ll be swapping new for old regularly throughout the Fringe.

I’m really excited about this concept, about Fringe, and about the potential for story discovery throughout the city!  Be sure to stop and check it out!

Never Fringed before?  You don’t know what you’re missing – this is an incredible assemblage of vast and varied talent and it’s very #ROC.

You also have the opportunity to be among the first stories heard opening weekend.  Call 585-210-0805 and leave a story (The recording will run for 3 minutes.  If you need more time, call back) about a Fringe experience! I know we live in a town of last-minute Lou-Lous, but I do need to get set up ahead of time, so please call now!

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Post-Fringe blues? Craft and hone a personal story along with me at the amazing Cumming Nature Center Sept 30 at 12 and 230!  I’ll give you story tips through the day as we iteratively work in groups and on our own to craft a tale for day’s end.  Storytelling is as old as human history – it’s part of our nature – and everyone has a story worth sharing.  Let me help you find yours at the Heritage Maker Storytelling workshop!

Once upon a time, I gave a TEDx talk!

My TEDxRochester video went up on YouTube a few weeks ago – right around when my laptop blew up and posting got, well, wrinkly.  It’s nice to have all of your tabs and files where you know you can find them.  I’m on a backup, but I should be getting my real computer back today with (almost, knock wood) all files intact.

So, my video!  As you may remember, I opened the show, after Larry Moss told his ROC Soup story. This was an awesome experience on the incredible stage provided by TED for ideas the world over.  So curl up as the summer rain falls and discover the power of story.  And share the idea with any and all! Happy Friday!

And finally, there’s one more week left to vote for Storychick in the Chase Mission Main Street grant contest. 250 votes will get me to the judging round. I could still use lots of votes. It’s very appreciated.

What would you do with $100,000? The Chase Mission Main St Grant explained

Perhaps you’ve noticed the sidebar.  Perhaps not.  I have joined the contest for one of 20 $100,000 grants from Chase.  I’ve submitted my answers to their questions and now need to pass the next phase.  That’s where you come in.  I need 250 votes in order to make it to the judging round.

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Why should you vote for me?  What are you supporting?  I thought I’d share some of my application responses here so that you can get an idea of what I’m trying to do with all of this.

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As with good stories, three events inspired my business.

  1. In 2008, I had a potentially fatal heart episode. It changed my perspective on life. I realized how important every moment can be and the tragedy that is corporate zombiedom. I knew that I needed more than just a job.
  2. A few years later, I was asked to map my career path and I realized that my passions are about perspective – and that is understood through story. I knew I needed to make story the center of my efforts.
  3. Finally, I read Chris Guillebeau’s $100 Start-Up – which made it clear that I didn’t need investors and corporate governance to get started. I knew I could take action.

Storychick today is about building community through stories. I am a storyteller focused on story gathering and sharing.  I gather stories from everyday people all over our city and share them in performances and on an upcoming radio show. I teach people about telling and gathering stories – both adults and youth. I offer story services, such as gathering stories from event speakers and story-based tours to assist the visually impaired. I also create story-related papercrafts – artwork designed to inspire story telling and sharing.

While businesses continue to sprout up around story, many focus on business storytelling. My focus on using story to connect people is, I believe, rare. I have seen a few scattered small businesses across the country that talk in similar terms. These primarily work in disenfranchised communities or schools.

Each year of Storychick’s business has seen more visibility, more success, and more excitement – spurring new programs and opportunities. There are a lot of great efforts underway right now to celebrate our city and to solve our problems. I pride myself in leading such an effort and building our community story by story.
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In the short term, I plan to expand my audience and visibility. This will be through the launch of the radio show, expanding the number of live performances, and increasing educational and consulting efforts. This also will include efforts to publish – both guest posts online and in online/print journals and magazines.

Further out, I will start to offer content for sale – starting with ebooks and toolkits, as well as traditional books (I have 3 in the works currently). This content will range from story instruction to collected stories to a memoir and a novel. I plan to become a local expert in story gathering and sharing, someone people reference and turn to regularly, and this will create new opportunities, as well.

After becoming a local expert and setting story fully in motion in Rochester, NY, I plan to focus on other markets – implementing similar programs through training, toolkits, and in-person consulting.

The grant would shorten the timeframe to achieve these goals – in part by allowing me the time to write, gather, and create and also through the networking and visibility afforded by the training and advertising budgets.

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Feel free to ask questions.  Feel free to share this post or just tell people to go vote. ; )  I hope that I’ve earned your interest, at least, and that you’ll stick around to see how this all comes together.  It’s a grand adventure, this life, and I love sharing it through story.

THANKS!

Creating a story to guide you

I’ve recently taken a class with Rob Young called Creating a Plan that Works (CAPTW) (Watch his site for information on the next round – it’s worth it!).  Step by step, Rob walks you through a process to define the project you want to work on.  Every aspect of the project – why this project, how it plays in to your ultimate goals and motivations, who you can turn to, how you’ll prioritize the project versus other parts of your life, etc.  There’s a LOT there, but it’s worthwhile because in the end, you should have a pretty solid plan and be pretty psyched to get started.  When you do start the project, your plan serves as a guide – you have a timeline with milestones all building to your goal and you’ve already considered most objections/ obstacles and how you will deal with them.  My project has I been to get into a writing habit – producing the content that was on the roadmap for the year but was not happening for several bad reasons.

One of those reasons is that my health troubles have come back and just months after the ablation that righted things, I had another last week.  The procedure was long and tough, but the doctors were fairly confident they’d solved the biggest problems.  Of course, I was showing oddness on the monitor as I was held overnight for observation – so we’re cautiously optimistic right now and will verify in a few months.

It’s easy to be frustrated.  It’s easy to rail at lousy luck and despair of ever getting back into shape and returning to a body image that I still hold in my head for myself.  To envision a life of limited movement and infrequent social activities due to the illness and be mad.

But I’m the one laying out this plan.  As I tell the story of what is happening to me, it is in my power to shape and mold – to foresee obstacles and their solutions, to map how things will progress.  I am designing this story as carefully as the novel now in the works and as meticulously as my CAPTW project.  I tell my story in each tweet, each Facebook post, each email.  And I don’t want to focus on the negative.  I am not going to despair or show frustration because at this moment, even still sore from the procedure, I choose to believe myself on a path to health.  I am marveling at the skill and care shown by the whole team.  I am planning the adventure ahead.

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If symptoms return, there will likely be some issues.  I may loose control of the story.  But every adventure has pitfalls and moments of crisis.  Every book has conflict.  I can envision the adventure ahead, the victory won.  I can revel in the wonder of what’s around me, even while trying to figure out what the next fix (if needed) will be.

The Norsemen of the Viking Age (780-1070) believed that their stories were already written.  That their fates were already laid out for them.  Even though they could not control the end of their tale – they made sure to give it spice along the way.  As one scholar put it “humanity is born to trouble, but courage, adventure, and the wonders of life are matters for thankfulness, to be enjoyed while life is still granted to us.” (H.R. Ellis Davidson quoted in The Norse Myths by Kevin Crossley-Holland)  I like that approach.

It also brings to mind Tiffany Staropoli – a friend I met through TEDxRochester – when diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer, she took control of her story and dealt with it her way – not as a fight, but with dancing and love.

How can you shape your story to guide you forward?  If you were creating your story plan, what  would your goal for it be?

Looking ahead to 2015

There’s a lot of exciting things already started as the sun rises on 2015 – I’ll touch on them as we go.

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First, as I think of what 2015 will bring, I focus on my three words (a la Chris Brogan).  These really are my themes for the year.  This year, I have chosen:

  • Integrate – Storychick is about gathering and sharing stories, but I try to incorporate papercrafts also.  I love working with the paper and mixing and matching colors that have caught my eye to tell a story. Story Starters and Stages are designed to inspire storytelling.  This year, I plan to integrate craft more into the other story work that I do.  I want to make sure that the craft work is not neglected.
  • Produce – Not just production of content or making art, “produce” stands for  pulling together a variety of works.  Blogging consistently.  Keeping up on the newsletter.  Producing educational materials and programs.  Putting together more shows and opportunities to share out the stories that I gather.  Ramp up the pace of story gathering.  Gathering, creating, and shaping content for radio broadcasts.  Overall, create more wins for Storychick – more opportunities to grow and spread the message of story.
  • Publish – Blog posts.  Newsletters.  Articles in journals.  Content here on the blog.  Oh, perhaps move along on the course towards a book or two?  “Publish” lives in the realm of Seth Godin’s “launch”.  Get it out the door.  Into the world.  Where people can see and experience it.  Where it can convert people to the Storychick cause.  Publish also includes visibility related to the new non-profit projects with Loop Ministries and ROCspot.  Content needs to come out on schedule for these efforts.

Along with these 3 words, I have a few practices that I’d like to follow this year:

  • Writing – I’m starting with a commitment to 500 words a day for January.  This should get interesting, but I hope to achieve it or darn close.  I want to make writing a more regular practice so that the ideas in my head can be produced, can be published.
  • Workouts – I’ve been horrible lately.  I need to bring my body back from the 6 months in bed (and then make up for a few years of lethargy before that).  I need to make fitness a more regular practice in my life.

My goals for 2015 get into more details:

Goal – Increase the opportunities to share the stories I have gathered with the ROC community

Storychick will have a show on WAYO radio (broadcast 104.3FM and streaming online) in 2015!  This will be an awesome recurring opportunity to share ROC stories.  I’m quite excited by the opportunity!  I am also starting a partnership with Writers & Books to bring Rochester Stories to the stage more frequently than the once a year Fringe festival.  The first show there will be February 26.

Goal – Educate the community on the importance and role of story

Here’s a second chance to join Storychick in Story Collecting Basics at the Rochester Brainery in the Village Gate – January 12 at 7pm!  This class will cover what it takes to become a story gatherer and give you a chance to try it yourself!  I also will follow up on leads from the Maker Faire and Fringe Festival for youth programs in story gathering and story crafting.

Goal – Promote story in ROC

I plan to continue my efforts to make the public aware of the value of storytelling in strengthening a community.  I’ll share my TEDxRochester talk when it comes out and look for other opportunities to spread this message across media.  This includes hosting People’s State of the Union story circles for the US Department of Arts and Culture (NOT a federal institution, FYI) – more details on this soon.  This also includes infusing story in the marketing and messaging efforts for ROCspot and visibility efforts for Loop Ministries.

Goal – Plan out my book ideas

Work on the background in addition to spending time writing – the mechanics that need to be considered.  Create outlines.  Consider publication options.  Develop timelines and stick to them.

Goal – Invest time in strategy and training for myself

This is almost a practice, but I don’t want to make that too long a list.  Keep up on the blogs that are important to follow.  And the emails.  Read up on storytelling and just make sure to keep reading in general – I have a lot of “to reads” and all reading helps the brain and the story muscles.  Take advantage of webinars.  Explore other training opportunities.  Check out what the National Storytelling Network has to offer.

I’ll wrap some personal goals in, as well, to try to put some structure to what became chaos in 2014.

What do you think?  Sound like a fun year ahead?  I can’t wait!

Oooh, shiny and new!

Welcome to the new Storychick site!

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I love fall.  For me, the colors and crispness in the air is a metamorphosis. It’s not about a dead season coming, just a new look to the world.  With the onset of fall, the changing of the leaves, and the dropping temperature, I figure it’s time for a bit of rebirth here.

I’ve redesigned it to help you get a better picture of everything that Storychick is about and up to, without having to search or scroll through blog posts. Thanks to Chris Brogan for the inspiration – the tips you gave were echoed on several other sites that I look up to.

Let me take you on a brief tour.  From the header:

  • Connect through Story – the home and mission ofStorychick
    • Start here! – Background details
    • Gather & Tell – Resources and information about programs to help you gather & tell stories
    • Join our Newsletter – What it sounds like.  The Neighborhood Scoop will now be delivered weekly and have the latest news.  This is news that will not be posted to the blog.
    • Stories & Their Impact – Storychick projects and their results
    • Story Sparks – Story inspiration through crafts and products
    • Story Path – Under development currently
  • Blog – The upper right menu – that’s where the blog now lives.  It’ll be similar to before, minus the news posts.
  • Contact Me – Questions?  Get in touch!

What do you think?

The power of writing your story

Earlier this summer, I read an ebook by Claire be Boer titled Soul Writing: Why writing your story could be the most important thing you ever do. (You can find it here.)  The book and her site include exercises to spur memories and help them flow onto paper, inspiring moments, and the stories on many about the impact of journaling in their lives.

I’m fond of journaling, just have not mastered the practice of it. I do agree that writing things out – your current troubled thoughts, memories, dreams can help us in a variety of ways:

  • The practice of writing – Just making sure that you write every day is an important thing.  It helps you to develop your voice and potentially create content that could be published on a blog, magazines, or books.
  • The power of venting – Sometimes, you need to get stuff out of your own head, but maybe the right person isn’t around to listen – or doesn’t exist.  Putting it on paper helps, just as telling a person the story would, helps you to process your thoughts and feelings.  To root out what lies behind that initial wail of discontent.
  • The potential for privacy – Maybe there’s something that you need to process but don’t want to share with anyone else.  Your journal is for eyes only – and you make that call.
  • The marking of moments – Sometimes the little parts of the day are the most important.  The simple phrase someone uses.  A ray of light striking a loved one’s hair in the most beautiful way.  These little pieces can get drowned out in the daily grind or the crisis or stress of the moment.  Making a practice of recording life will make sure these bits aren’t lost.

It’s a powerful thought.

I’ve started to sit down myself.  Watch for a story soon about how that is working.

Storytelling tools (Part 1)

It’s obvious that our personal storytelling techniques have morphed with the technology available to us.  From the caves at Lascaux to stories in the mail to blogs and tweeted tales, we take advantage of the means of communication that we have to get our stories out to our intended audiences.  Changes in technology morph the makeup of our tales, their complexity and immediacy.

What about the impact of technology on how authors write novels and poems?  There’s clearly an impact based on how the story is meant to be delivered – radio, magazine serial, ebook.  But an article (How Authors Write) by Jason Pontin, Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of the MIT Technology Review looks, instead, at the technology available to authors for creation.

Pontin does a great job of pulling examples of shifts in how stories are told. From Kerouac‘s scroll to stories full of footnotes to Jennifer Eagan’s incorporation of powerpoint slides as part of A Visit from the Goon Squad.

At a time when new media are proliferating, it is tempting to imagine that authors, thinking about how their writing will appear on devices such as electronic readers, tablet computers, or smartphones, consciously or unconsciously adapt their prose to the exigencies of publishing platforms. But that’s not what actually happens. … Writers are excited to experimentation not by the media in which their works are published but, rather, by the technologies they use to compose the works.

I find the idea of how we tell stories being shifted by the tools in our laps and not necessarily by a vision of how it will be consumed quite interesting. Pontin closes the article by saying this is the case because authors don’t care about the consumption of their work – that they are anti-social beasts too absorbed in their own creation.  Way too over-generalized and rather mean, I think, and I’m disappointed that that’s how he chose to close the piece.

In the next few posts, I’ll take a look at a couple new twists in how stories are created related to new tech.  There’s cool stuff all around us….

Story 3 – First Memory

I have a unique story of self and family. I have wonderful memories that are firsts. My first Christmas in Texas, my first home birth, my first Thanksgiving in New England, my first winter in Alaska. Each one I try to make special and stand out, in such we have a lot of special memories.

Because firsts are from all over the country, and world, my neighbors and friends moved with me whether in my scrapbook, photo album or on the internet. Where ever our family ended up being everything we did adapted. Home truly was where the heart was for all seven of us. For over 15 years I was a military wife. Our neighbors changed, our traditions built upon and grew, and our family maintained and contain solidified ones that were just ours to make sure each holiday, gathering and anything celebratory fit into a solid base so when we moved it moved with us.

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Take for instance Princess day, my now 16 year-old was getting screwed over by her 4th birthday being in the middle of a move. We were doing a PCS move (moving to a new post) and life was chaotic. We could not have a huge party and we had just had one the month before for her brother so she was really upset. I decided to make her day a “princess day”, a day that was hers and I was her maid servant. All the food was per her menu, everyone had to eat her choices. She received her birthday breakfast on our families best china, she got to drink her orange juice and milk out of water and champagne flutes. She broke one her fifth birthday and I just cleaned it up, she was worth it. Her birthday was never the day of her big party, which I made just as spectacular if I could. We usually went shopping and out to lunch and she got to choose a friend. (Sir Hoppington was on her 4th birthday, he was a Rabbit so big I had to put him in the stroller and carry her brother on my back). She had a princess crown (as seen above which lasted till she was 8), and a princess dress her Daddy got her each year which was always the first package opened.

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This continues and through out the years her little brother and sister insisted on having their own each day of “holding court” in which they were prince or princess. On Josephine’s sixth birthday the local fire department got wind it was on and even came down to give us a show just for her, since it was cloudy and she asked for a rainbow, they gave her one.

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There is always room for celebration, always room for traditions and making things happen no matter where you are and where you live. Home truly is where your heart is.

– KM