Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Storytelling In the News I

New From Afar
Alfred Stevens, 1860
In February of 2021 I was asked to take over the Storytelling It’s News column for the National Storytelling Network's newsletter. Below are some of the articles I researched through 2021. Since there are so many, I have broken it up into three posts. This is the first of three.

I hope you find something interesting to read, and perhaps some new tidbits to add to your storytelling.

 A farmer and his magical field: How fairies have ‘kept the land sacred in Ireland’

“Farming in Kilconnell for the last 40 years, Noone has gained attention for his supposed connection to members of what some may believe to just be mythology… “I have the porthole to the fairy world, where the blackthorn meets the whitethorn.”

A Marrakech Tale
“Hajj Ahmed Ezzarghani has been telling stories for over five decades. Now in his 70s, the master storyteller has retired from the chaos of Marrakech’s famous square, Jemaa el-Fna. He finds new purpose in teaching young apprentices the skills of the ancient art form.” There is also a very interesting twenty-five-minute video of Hajj teaching his apprentices and their first public performance in the square.

African-American folklore inspires meeting of the minds

Henry Louis “Skip” Gates Jr. and Maria Tatar, Harvard scholars have co-authored “The Annotated African American Folktales,” that “illuminates and celebrates a narrative spirit both intimate and expansive…” The Harvard Gazette offers this wonderful article, a conversation with Gates and Tatar as they explain how storytelling motifs are woven through many cultures and the important messages they convey.

Ancient Aboriginal Storytelling Turns Digital

“The kids from Western Australia's remote Pilbara region have amassed quite a body of work. For the past 10 years they've been working hard, spending hundreds of hours in a digital lab in Roebourne, or Ieramugadu. They've been making music, films, podcasts, and even an award-winning interactive digital comic. Now they've created a learning platform, to share their stories with primary school students and teachers around Australia.”

Animation-led storytelling drives bold vision for new Scotch whisky brand Fable
“The storytelling part is very important to us. I think the Scottish and Irish are renowned as great storytellers, and we wanted to bring a piece of that to the whisky market. We have these great remote parts of Scotland, and we chose a place called Clanyard Bay, which is on the Southwest corner of the country, to be the central element in our story. In summary we are matching great tasting whisky with an interesting and mythical story about this part of the world.” 

Can Storytelling Catalyze Culture Change
“Storytelling has always been a way to transmit culture. Why else would our ancestors gather around a fire to tell stories, to pass down traditions, to impart knowledge to younger generations? But what if we could use stories to drive culture change by shifting the UN Refugee Agency’s (UNHCR) mindset from one that prioritizes hierarchy to one that places just as much value in the organization’s diverse workforce? A team at UNHCR believes that one way to do that may be to let staff at every level tell their own stories.”

Carlsbad company offering scary stories on the beach
“A Carlsbad-based company, Beach Genie, which provides customers with a pampered beach day experience, is now offering year-round scary storytelling events on the beach in time for the Halloween season…The Walkers partnered with professional storyteller Marilyn McPhie, the president of the Storytellers of San Diego and Pacific Region Director for the National Storytelling Network, in the hopes of elevating beachgoers’ experience…In preparation for Christmas, the company has Santa Claus join a holiday bonfire party on the beach for 90 minutes before “flying back to the North Pole.”

Choctaw Cultural Center to open this week
“Throughout the Cultural Center – indoors and outdoors – Choctaw tribal members have the opportunity to teach, learn and actively participate in the Choctaw culture. Activities like gathering for special presentations and Choctaw films, participating in the Choctaw tradition of oral storytelling or playing in a demonstration stickball game, all help keep the Choctaw spirit alive.”

Eco Warriors wins Youth4Nature Award in environmental awareness through storytelling

“Leadership of the group used the power of words carefully crafted to arouse interest and sustain suspense as they told childhood stories. It is a highly participatory exercise which ensures that members who are predominantly students interact with the storyteller throughout the process.”

The Folktale Resurgence
“When places and features of the landscape are tied to old stories, knowing and remembering those old stories as we walk through the land can weave us into its history, connecting us to the ancestral voices, helping to establish enduring bonds between individuals and the natural world around them – whether that be animals, plants, or features like mountains and rocks. They connect us to land and show us how to engage with it in a deeper way.”

Forgotten Women of Grimms’ Fairy Tales

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm were real people, not mythical figures… Contrary to what many readers assumed, the brothers did not write the tales. The tales were a group effort that required communal scholarship and work by multiple contributors…more than half the tales had a woman’s hand in them. The women served as fairy tale “think tanks.”

How Indigenous Oral Tradition Is Guiding Archaeology and Uncovering Climate History in Alaska
In south-central Alaska a chief named Łtaxda’x (EL-tax-da) once owned “a dish hewn from the horn of a giant moose.” When he died, his brothers fought over this ceremonial platter of the Raven clan. As the legend continues, one of the brothers who lost the battle led some of the people away from their ancestral home. Aron Crowell, director of the Alaska division of the Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center, conducted scientific research revealing “that the migration story of the Tlingit ancestors is essentially true.”

How Nupur Aggarwal, the storyteller, 'storifies' lessons to make them so much more fun
“Nupur, who has been associated with Bengaluru-based Storywallahs, an organisation that has made telling stories their business…What we essentially do is storify concepts from the curriculum and then handhold them through the process of consistently using the technique of storytelling in the classroom,"

How Stories Connect And Persuade Us: Unleashing the Brain Power of Narrative

When you listen to a story, whatever your age, you're transported mentally to another time and place.” Research has shown that while listening to a has proven that A growing body of brain science offers even more insight into what's behind these experiences.”

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Karen Chace 2021 ©

This blog post was researched and compiled by Karen Chace. Permission for private use is granted. Distribution, either electronically or on paper is prohibited without my expressed written permission. For permission, please contact me at Of course, if you wish to link to my blog via your website, blog, newsletter, Facebook page or Twitter please feel free to do so; I appreciate your support and personal integrity.