Common Threads

By on June 6, 2018

Storytelling events unpack its ability to unite people

Good stories connect people, mining their compassion and understanding for humanity’s differed experiences.

JACKSON HOLE, WY – In the book Sapiens: A brief history of humankind, writer Yuval Noah Harari traces the history of humans and explores the idea that it is not just language that sets us apart from other species, but also our ability to create myths and stories that can bring people together to cooperate and share ideas.

Leah Shlachter, the adult programs coordinator at Teton County Library, was struck by this aspect of the book: “Storytelling is not just a tendency, it’s a human need. And it’s fun.”

True stories told in people’s own voices have been a theme at the library in the last few weeks as StoryCorps has recorded conversations between people in town. In conjunction with StoryCorps, the library is also partnering with Wyoming Public Library to offer a series of a talks.

“We wanted it to be more than the airstream is in Jackson to record, we wanted more programming surrounding it to make it more festive,” Shlachter said.

The programming kicked off May 24 with a presentation by Wyoming Public Media’s Bob Beck. The news director discussed what makes a good news story and unpacked some of the station’s award-winning pieces. Then Melodie Edwards spoke on May 30 about wildlife reporting.

The next presentation, on June 6, is on the importance of Native storytelling with Darrah Perez. Perez will talk about the importance, but also the challenges of telling stories from the Native community. Often times Native people, especially those on the Wind River Reservation, are reluctant to share their stories, even if positive. Perez will talk about developing partnerships and trust to report on the community.

On June 13, Caroline Ballard, Erin Jones and Micah Schweizer of Wyoming Public Media’s award-winning podcast HumaNature will unpack what makes a good podcast. The multimedia presentation will take people behind the scenes in launching and producing a storytelling podcast.

Wyoming Public Radio came up with the topics.

“They are a good way for people consuming the news to see how the news is made,” Shlachter said.

It also allows people to figure out how they want to tell their own stories. The library has received a strong interest from people who want to learn how to create a podcast and tell audio stories themselves.

The final event is the StoryCorps listening event from 6 to 8 p.m. June 21. The StoryCorps Mobile Tour came to Jackson May 24 and is in town until June 22. StoryCorps collects stories through recording sessions across the country. It began in New York City in October 2003 and has since collected stories from across the country. Some of the recordings collected in Jackson could be featured on National Public Radio. All of the recordings will eventually be published online.

The listening event is a chance for the community to listen to the stories collected in town. “It’s the grand finale to celebrate all the recordings that were done in Jackson,” Shlachter said.

People will get a chance to hear their own stories, but also learn about their friends and neighbors, she said.

The presentation also will feature locally produced segments from Wyoming Public Media news and cultural affairs team.

There are still some slots available for people who want to participate in StoryCorps. For those intimidated by the idea of sharing a story, Shlachter said never fear: “It really is meant to be two people having a conversation. You don’t have to come with some prepared story to perform.”

To sign up, visit click here. People are encouraged to sign up in pairs. A session takes about an hour and after it is archived participants get a digital copy of their conversation.

The importance of native storytelling with Darrah Perez, 6 to 8 p.m. June 6; What makes a good podcast with the team from HumaNature, 6 to 8 p.m. June 13; StoryCorps community listening event, 6 to 8 p.m. June 21. All events are at Teton County Public Library.

About Kelsey Dayton

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