Monday, October 23, 2017

On The Magic Of Storytelling

There is wonder and magic in storytelling. Of that I am certain.

Well, at least, I can say there is all of that in story “listening,” if you are fortunate enough to be able to “interview” an individual with an intriguing story as I was able to do this afternoon.

Today I did my first “official” interview for New Horizons new StoryCorps/Official New Horizons Small "Zones Of Peace" Storytelling Collection.

The experience, which lasted for around ninety minutes, was awesome!

Our New Horizons Storytelling project might differ, even significantly, from what other groups or organizations, partnering with StoryCorps, might do. However, our approach, as it is developing,  will include our Storytelling Workshop Series and lots and lots of interviews with people who may or may not attend these events.

The scheme we have developed, in addition to the tools and skills our workshops are designed to offer, is to do one or two rehearsal-type interviews with an individual in preparation for a recorded interview for our StoryCorps/Official New Horizons Small "Zones Of Peace" Storytelling Collection.

In this way, we are hoping to contribute interesting, somewhat well-thought out and prepared, though unscripted stories that, at their best, can become gifts we are giving by storytelling and story “listening.” 

If our stories can make the cut and be broadcast on NPR as many StoryCorps stories are, so much the better.

In the case of today’s storytelling, the person I interviewed is unlikely to attend any of our workshops, particularly as they will interfere with his work schedule. Nonetheless, I, personally, am already getting enough out of our behind-the-scenes Storytelling Workshop Project Steering Committee Meetings and practice sessions our committee members are doing with one another, that I was well-prepared as an interviewer. 

Add to these activities the fact that I have a long-term background as a psychotherapist and you can well-imagine my interview skills of an individual’s personal stories are, by now, well-ingrained.

If you’ve ever been to a therapist, no doubt, you understand, right off, what I mean. Who else, other than a family member or best friend, could possibly care enough to focus on you, and only you, for almost an hour? And be totally wrapped up in the process?

Well, I absolutely loved this storytelling, story listening process.

Was it like doing therapy?

Not at all, as I did not need to be doing any problem solving of anybody or anything! 

So I had the leisure to just sit back and enjoy entering into another person’s adventure who needed nothing back from me, other than the receiving of my attention, interest and probably a good dose of caring and compassion. I’ll grant that.

My first storyteller has an incredibly interesting story, with a number of gifts he will be giving from his telling. In particular, a story that goes from a serious, life-threatening drug addiction from which he has recovered and into q new life in which he has now chosen to become a Monk. 

His story, which we have agreed might even have two or three offshoots, was so intriguing I can hardly wait to pick it up again when we do session number two.

However, this one, alone, had all the elements of magic I love; excitement, intrigue, adventure, challenge, a downtrodden person surmounting life-threatening obstacles and coming out the other end as a hero!  

I absolutely love this kind of hero!

So I know, for sure, I am going to totally love this new project of New Horizons!

Perhaps, once developed, I will enjoy it even more than any other!

I’ll let you know.

Meanwhile, I hope you will be inspired to start down this storytelling, story “listening” path too and find yourself a bit of magic. 

We could definitely use it, these days.


For details on how you can join New Horizons and myself, contact: 
Anastasia Rosen-Jones

Email: HarpersFerryNH@aol.com Cell: 240.409.5347


Be sure to join New Horizons in this endeavor. 

It is an important one!

Could Storytelling And Story "Listening" Bridge Even The Gender Gap?


Read Anastasia's commentary on --- Could Storytelling And Story "Listening" Bridge Even The Gender Gap?

The New Horizons Board of Directors began exploring this possibility over the past weekend, in light of the Harvey Weinstein scandal in Hollywood -- and -- its fallout across the nation.

We would like to hear your views.

Do you think that storytelling and story "listening" workshops focusing on bridging the gender gap be helpful.

Let us know what you think.


Contact: Anastasia Rosen-Jones

Email: HarpersFerryNH@aol.com Cell: 240.409.5347

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Developing The Art Of Sharing Stories In The Service Of Building (and Rebuilding) Our Communities


What if more and more people in the U.S.A. came to realize that “sustained” polarization was destructive to their well-being; not an answer to what ails us, in the long run?

What if more and more people recognized the validity of Ben Franklin’s words –
"We must all hang together or most assuredly we will all hang separately"?
Wikipedia suggests that the meaning of this phrase by Franklin,  at the time of the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, meant that signers of the Declaration, as well as colonists in general, had to help each other and support each other or they were doomed.

What if more and more people took heed of these words, reinforced, in recent days by the tragedies of our recent hurricane devastations and the mass shootings in Las Vegas – and realized that we need one another more than we need our divisions, regardless of the differences between us of race, religion or other creeds.

Bridge Building: One Person
At A Time

Polarization can be a necessary and good thing, as mostly we are different enough from one another to need to define ourselves with some intricacy. But, at a point, we must unite to find common ground in order to move forward. 

My hope is that we will come through these troubled times we are now facing to discover the importance of this, along with an awareness that we will need time in order to heal our divisions. One of the examples of a project I have long admired that has successfully helped heal deep and serious wounds that divide is the Compassionate Listening Project.

Recently I revisited the web site of that project to review their achievements for myself – and – draw hope and inspiration from the work they have accomplished in the twenty years or so they have been active in reconciling divisions of the most horrendous divides, particularly in the Middle East and between both Jewish and German Holocaust survivors. In becoming somewhat familiar with this project through a friend who was the daughter of Jewish Holocaust survivors, I discovered that storytelling was an intrinsic piece of the success of this project.

Their success reassures me that New Horizons and myself are on the right track.

Imagine healing wounds between Jewish and German Holocaust survivors with a respectable number of these people being either former Nazis or their children?

We do not need to bring ourselves to a bloody war of factions, with more causalities than we have already seen, in this Beloved country of ours, to start looking toward a brighter future than we have presently -- and beginning to build it now, even in the midst of our polarization. Small steps in leaning in to one another can be a beginning. Storytelling and story “listening,’ as we officially launched as a project last Saturday is a further step.

Please consider this an imperative next step for yourself, personally. 

We believe this is a critically important next step, if what you have now is not to your liking!

Developing the art of sharing personal stories, in the service of building community (and rebuilding) unity in our country will not come easily, even with the best of intentions. Yet the yearning to tell and  listen to stories is ingrained in humanity. This is a very special way we connect to one another.

We may be the only animals that do this. Yet given half an opportunity, the exchange of stories arises out of our depths as naturally as sunshine and fresh air. We saw this occurring at last Saturday’s workshop. We needed only to provide a minimum of guidance and structure to set the ball rolling. 

Once we did we were pressed to find an ending to the delicious exchanges that were then created.

The vehicle, storytelling and story listening, that circumstances have now led New Horizons to offer in order that we continue on with our exceptional community development mission, centrally focused on building small “zones of peace” throughout our local community and beyond, will grow from here forth, we anticipate. 

In our county, alone, there are pockets and pockets of individuals and groups who are, minimally, finding unity in churches, synagogues, special interest and support groups. Within these, people often find their way to one another, based on the likemindedness they share. We are after a stretch beyond this. 

We want to fortify the links that are relatively still intact, even if minimally, and also reach across the divides that are less than the ideal of like thinking!

Few people, as we saw on Saturday, have yet attained the level of artfulness needed to significantly overcome the hurdles we are currently facing in our nation and even in our local communities.  But we can learn. And, in that realization lies our hope!!

One thing is certain, once we get started telling our stories with the true potential for connectedness we all carry, more and more people will be wanting to continue on, almost non-stop. Our new “Zones of Peace” Storytelling Workshop Series is already showing us this.

Please plan on joining us for our next “Zones of Peace” Storytelling Workshop event on Saturday, November 11.

This is important! You won’t be sorry!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Storytelling Workshop Series Hopes and Dreams Coming True: We are on our way!

Yippee!

When the intention of a workshop, such as yesterday’s introduction to New Horizons Small “Zones of Peace” Storytelling Workshop Series, was to be -- and – you begin at two and are still going str0ng at 8:30, you have no doubt you have reached some kind of magic. 

At New Horizons we call that a climb to the peak of the Mountain of Awe. In this case, the outcome was built upon storytelling, lots of creative contributions and good will. 

What a fine example this was of the way we all might be able to use storytelling to build, or help re-build, old timey community where people treat one another with caring and respect. And take time to listen!

Yesterday we were already germinating that which we envision we can become through New Horizons new  storytelling community.  We weren’t anywhere near the level of The Moth or what we would like to see of ourselves for our submissions to our StoryCorps archives, under the heading of The Official New Horizons Small "Zones Of Peace" Storytelling Collection. 

Yet there could have been little doubt, as we spent long hours, during the workshop, which went way over time and continued over dinner at a nearby restaurant , that we were on our way to helping one another develop the “art of storytelling and the art of story “listening.”

This is the path, beyond polarization, we are seeking with this next New Horizons Small “Zones of Peace” project, the Storytelling Workshop Series. A genuine storytelling community in embryonic form

We did not have a lot of people in attendance, but we did have the right people!

I, Anastasia, found myself searching for the proper words to start off the event. Unable to find them, myself, I found them in the words of another “storytelling to build community” organization that described our vision just right.

Here we had words that helped our defined mission take shape.

Our mission: to build small “zones of peace” wherever we go by assisting others to develop skills that enable them to move beyond all elements of human separation wherever they exist.
The workshop will demonstrate and train participants in how to design and hold intentional and strategic community storytelling events that help build relationships, create shared vision, heal some community wounds and celebrate community accomplishments and heroes.
During the workshop participants will learn how to plan a storytelling project utilizing storytelling circles, create community timelines, creative visioning and time capsule activities. Courtesy of David Hunt & Associates
These words, that beautifully represent the vision of the New Horizons Board of Directors, seemed to almost immediately resonate with our guests. It was wonderful. We were off and running, without stop, until we were almost too tired to continue.

More to come when we’ve had another day or two to assimilate – and – in my case digest the food I was shuffling down, almost mindlessly. 

Yippee!

Our Storytelling Workshop Series Hopes and Dreams Are Coming True: We are on our way!

Join us next for the next in the series on Saturday, November 11.

Contact: Anastasia Rosen-Jones for details and reservations.
Cell: 240.409.5347, emal: SuperSleuthDSW@aol.com

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Small “Zones of Peace” Storytelling Workshops, Live and Online, Are Almost Here!


New Horizons’ Small “Zones of Peace” Project Presents --

The Storytelling Workshop Series -- Live
A Vehicle For Overcoming Today’s Social and Political Polarization 

Saturday, October 14, 2017 (Details here)

Reserve early! Space is limited.

Also, read introductory comments on the Storytelling Workshop Series by New Horizons’ Executive Director, Anastasia Rosen-Jones here.

And – listen to Anastasia The Storyteller and New Horizons Board Member, Steve Lebherz, on –

The Storytelling Workshop Series -- Online

Topic: 

Story “Listening” And Storytelling: The Importance Of Weaving Them Together

Thursday, October 12, 6:30 p.m.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Introducing the Small "Zones of Peace" Storytelling Workshop Series Online

The Storytelling Workshop Series Online!
Begins Sunday, September 24, 4:00 p.m. on the 
Anastasia The Storyteller Radio Show

The surprises we come up with when we put ourselves and our voices out to others are never ending.  I’ve been getting requests to sign up for New Horizons Small “Zones of Peace” Storytelling Workshop Series from people around the world, as far as Uganda. What a wonderful surprise this has been!

Just when New Horizons and myself had gotten to thinking there was no way for us to be useful with our community bridge building programs, given the current social and political polarization, we came up with an alternative to our signature program, Coffee House Conversations -- our new Storytelling Workshop Series. 

We were just beginning to get used to our new normal of living with the notion that now might be the season to honor polarization, even with its downsides – and – let go of striving for unity, as a priority. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, out popped the idea of our partnering with StoryCorps and taking dialogue at New Horizons to a whole new level; setting up a program to tell and hear personal stories, in depth, especially those related to how people are feeling about and dealing with the “new normal” throughout our country and in our local communities. 

We had started to accept that the present time might be the season for people to stake out their territories insofar as values and needs that had not been given due attention, like the feisty pups we sometimes mimic, even the snappish ones. But, for a time, beginning with last November’s election fall out, that did not seem to leave us with a viable path for our version of community service -- community dialogue

What to do? What to do? We wondered and worried.

Then there was, also, the factor of my, Anastasia, needing to clearly separate my voice from the official voice of New Horizons. I, too, had reached a point where I needed to be more and more vocal about the values I hold to be important. The political had, indeed, become both the personal and professional for me that went beyond the scope of New Horizons and its small “zones of peace” building agenda. 

It wasn’t that unity had ceased to matter to me. It was more that I sometimes took a long range path to getting there. After all, I had invested the past forty plus years of my life developing a comprehensive understanding, personally and professionally, of how the Dark Side of humanity operates and how to transform it. As most of us know, transforming the Dark Side is no simple task. Thus my voice on the subject, timely as it is for today’s circumstances, needs to be aired in a manner, not always seemingly in harmony with New Horizons. 

We, New Horizons and I, do not truly have different destinations in mind, but sometimes we have divergent ways of reaching the objective; the greatest good for the greatest number of people in the most loving and compassionate ways possible.  Thus my approaches do not always appear to be copacetic with those of New Horizons. 

But ask yourself, how could New Horizons and myself genuinely be of different minds when I am the original architect of the project?

Still it seemed, for a time, as if New Horizons and myself might need to part company to keep our voices clear and defined, according to the strictures of non-profit regulations. Now it is looking more and more like we might just be needing to rearrange the playing pieces. That is if I can keep my thoughts on politics and other partisan affairs off this site, as in keep them limited to my Anastasia The Storyteller and Exploring Your Dark Side sites. 

So far, so good, nonetheless, if you think we are still needing to do more self-defining to keep ourselves in pure non-profit compliance, please let us know your viewpoint. We will get right on it to clear up any fuzziness. 

On my end, however, our policing board member, Lisa, seems to be satisfied with how I am speaking my “truth to power” messages and keeping New Horizons out of the fray; always a good sign for me.

For starters, this seems to be the simple way to go; keep politics etc. restricted to my Anastasia The Storyteller and Exploring Your Dark Side sites, especially as it become clearer and clearer that my personal/professional heart and soul has a great deal of political perspective at its core. 

This is what Watergate brought me; the political became the personal. And Donald Trump as president has now invited those lessons I learned through Nixon's White House into the fore, for a major revisiting.

But now, lo and behold, a new shape has appeared with New Horizons partnering with StoryCorps to bring about our new Storytelling Workshop Series. Much like the pieces of a kaleidoscope making a fresh picture. Without changing the pieces at all, we might just be shaking them up a bit and giving ourselves a new image for ourselves. 

You can hear my story of how that came about on my Anastasia The Storyteller Radio Show program titled Tranquility In The Era Of Trump: A Personal Story

New Horizons and myself, fellow travelers on the road to raising ourselves to our higher vibrations; may not always be perfectly in step, as in sometimes my stories might not be appropriate fare for non-profit dining. Still we seem, now, to be beginning a new chapter. And, not too be far off from one another as I, a bona fide online storyteller, now take up the leadership of the New Horizons Small “Zones of Peace” Storytelling Workshop series, our next new project, focusing on community-bridge building, one person at a time.

So far so good, judging by the response we are getting. As I stated earlier, we have already heard from folks as far away as Uganda. And in this country, we have heard from people from coast to coast, as far East as Boston and as far West as California. Indicators suggest we are tapping into something, with our intention to bring storytelling in, front and center, to address the very human yearning to connect, striving for fulfillment, albeit somewhat hidden in staking out zones of importance, at times, these days, often only with like-minded others to increase one’s strength of conviction and entitlement.

New Horizons has now discovered that while many people in our country or communities may not be quite so eager to come together for group conversations, having to do with overcoming polarization, we are now beginning to see that one person by one person, listening to and telling our stories still remains a basic human need.

As one of the people who has, so far, reached out to us, regarding our new Storytelling Workshop Series and its great potential, stated –
I think it (the Storytelling Workshop Series) is such an important and desperately needed piece of the road forward right now! 
If you think so too, join Steve Lebherz, New Horizons Board Member, and myself, next Sunday, October 1 at 4 p.m. as we take next steps, with you, to make storytelling, one person at a time, an important endeavor in reaching for that pinnacle of what our heritage of being human, in the fullest sense, heart to heart, offers us. After all, we are all a part of the ONE!


Sunday, September 25
4:00 p.m. 

And -- person-to-person, live, if you are in our neighborhood (Frederick, Maryland, specifically, and the 100 mile radius of the Washington White House, more generally) – 


Storytelling Workshop Series: 
A Vehicle For Overcoming Today’s Social and Political Polarization 
2:00 to 5:00 p.m.
Frederick Friends Meeting House
723 N. Market Street               Frederick, Maryland 21701

For Details and Reservations, Contact: Anastasia Rosen-Jones
Email: HarpersFerryNH@aol.com Cell: 240.409.5347