These past three years I have largely put aside blogging about my work to immerse myself in the storytelling itself. I was interested in what unplugging a bit would do to my thinking, my creativity, my ability to help small, rural communities strengthen civic engagement. Without blogging about it or even tweeting much–the way I did for years about my adventures in classroom teaching–I have experimented and explored and mixed and mashed and facilitated and shared and mentored and guided and watched and listened and listened and listened and played and learned about the role of storytelling in a wide range of communities and community contexts. Every community has its own way, its own identity, its own process and so the trainings I offer, the workshops and mentoring are different every time. I do not follow any school of thought. I do not practice a single set of processes, techniques, strategies. I am not trying to brand anything. I listen.
It has been a remarkable, if blog quiet, time. Of course, I didn’t give up blogging altogether–but I kept it to my explorations on the ground about the ground, literally, over at Open View Gardens–writing with Elizabeth and guest bloggers about stewarding the land and ecological gardening and cooking around the world as a way to build inter-cultural connections and foster effective informal learning. Also blogged about gardening at Eating Well, and I’ve written within my geographic community through a co-written weekly column in our twice-weekly county newspaper.
I wrote a white paper for Orton Family Foundation on storytelling at the heart of community. I’ve put together Slideshare/Youtube workshops and Flickr sets of slides for groups as well as wikis filled with resources and presentations. But now, I’m ready for some conversation, for some reflection on the work and what I’m hearing and reading, so it’s back to the bloggery I go.
Perhaps it has to do with the fact that “storytelling” is the theme du jour and I hope to rescue it from faddishness; perhaps it has to do with the fact that some are calling storytelling “soft” and ineffectual in a time of crisis. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that I have inched my way back to working with formal learning communities as well as with foundations and geographic communities seeking to strengthen civic engagement and foster positive, deep change. When I left higher ed, I really didn’t anticipate this sort of shift by academic institutions, this embrace of participatory community stewardship as central to all learning communities, formal or informal. And yet here I am, working with some extraordinary folks trying hard to take down silos and to build open collaboration, to deepen learning and to place community at the center of it all within their institutions. All while the world careens and the planet struggles.
Anyway, I’m back blogging and tweeting, eager to see how the practices and the connectiveness inform my work.