Stories Used To Be An Event! Still are?

Native American Storyteller

Native American Storyteller

Some Native American cultures saved storytelling for the winter months when people had time to gather together, repeat myths, share histories and create a common cultural bond. It was an event; something to look forward to. In my town, the only thing that comes close is when children gather for Story Hour at the public library or when Irish storyteller, Liz Weir, makes her annual appearance in Boulder.

Aditi Worcester, a video biographer, makes a similar observation about photographs in her blog

“My favorite picture is of my mother in Kashmir. It’s black and white… though everything looks rather white because of the snow. She’s wearing an oversized, black trenchcoat sort of thing… and smiling, well, half-smiling into the camera. Or rather at my father, who was taking the picture. It had been so cold that day that the guide who was taking my parents on a tour of the city offered his jacket to my mother to keep her warm. This demonstrated two things to me.
A). Locals don’t feel cold. And
B). Chivalry wasn’t dead 25 years ago.

But it’s my favorite picture. Whether it’s because of the story behind it, or because it was taken in a place I haven’t been to, or because it was a snapshot of my parents, young and in love… I don’t know.

My parents tell me that when they were growing up, taking pictures was an event. One you made appointments for, dressed up, and posed for, with your eyes deliberately looking elsewhere… for the effect of seriousness perhaps? Or gravity?”

Do we take too many photos today?  I took seven hundred photos on a recent week vacation.  These days, that’s not hard to do. The problem is editing them into something meaningful. That’s also the problem with video. My phone will capture the action, but, with rare exceptions, that’s not enough. The action needs to be shaped into something worthwhile–the work Aditi Worcester has taken on with her video biography project.

Stories need a storyteller.

Glass PosterAnd when we meet a master, we pause, we listen, we make it an event. Try Scott Hicks understated documentary, Glass: A Portrait in Twelve Parts



Filed under Event, Family Stories, History, Old Storytelling Traditions, stories, Uncategorized, Video Story

4 responses to “Stories Used To Be An Event! Still are?

  1. Food for thought, Jerrie. Perhaps it’s because our culture has substituted being entertained by what appears on a screen (movie, TV, computer) for inter-generational story-telling. People now seem to remember lyrics to songs, scenes from movies and video-game scores the way people in other times and other places remember stories they had heard as children and that they pass on to their own children.

  2. Cindy Bonner

    About the closest thing to “storytelling” we have nowdays are audio books, and those are usually done by actors, so I’m not sure they even qualify. And most people won’t bother to make trips to StoryFests anymore. They’re not interested enough. It’s not CG enough, or in your face enough. I do believe the love of story is in our DNA but the kind of storytelling you mean does have to be nurtured.

  3. Aditi’s account is lovely and does seem long ago, but I think stories are alive and well, just coming to us in formats that have been adapted for our lifestyle. Personal video biographies enable the stories to be captured along with the laugh and gestures of the one telling them. And whether it’s done by a professional or a grandchild, they make it so the stories stay vivid and don’t fade over the generations.

    It’s also encouraging to see the growth of nonprofit organization, The Moth which conducts storytelling sessions in New York and LA. The stories are supposed to be true and brief and no notes are allowed. You can download these on itunes as podcasts for free.

  4. Oh, yes, I believe in stories. In fact, stories are all there is, all WE are.

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