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HEALING STORY Fall, 2002 Issue #8

Spread the Word

Inside This Issue

Dr. Noonan Workshop

Dr. Estés Speech


T he NSN 2002 Conference in Denver was
terrific! I wish all of you could have been
there. Our preconference workshop with Dr.
the conference will receive copies within a few
weeks. Please be patient with the NSN staff (they
have lots to do after the conference) and with the
William Noonan was well attended and enthusi- mail.
astically received. Many people joined HSA as Because HSA was the first Special Interest
Conference Workshop Reports
Black 5 new members and others renewed their member- Group formed in NSN, because the work that
ship. This is easy to do; just call the NSN office we have done is respected and because our mem-
Avstreih/Kaplan 6
Abraham/Galex 6 at 800-525-4514. bership continues to grow, other SIGs and dis-
Burch 7 HSA had very high visibility at this confer- cussion groups look to us as a model as they set
ence. Many of our members presented and there their courses to serve their members. There is
Shimmel/Ibsen 8
McGrath/Lipman 8 were a variety of offerings of interest to our mem- some wonderful overlap of interests between
bers. If you were able to attend, you noticed that SIGs and we had lots of conversation about how
Rosen 9
Hornyak 10 HSA related workshops were many and some we can work together and support each other.
Gilchrist 10 were scheduled concurrently so that it was im- Allison, Diane, Fran and I were able to talk
possible to take advantage of all that was offered. to many storytellers who are doing exciting, of-
Ellis 11
This issue of the newsletter is fully loaded with ten groundbreaking work with story and healing
reports from the conference and we hope it will in a wide variety of venues. We invited them,
HSA Meeting 12
help to keep all of our members up-to-date on and we invite you, to write about your work for
14th Rocky what was offered, whether or not you were able publication in the newsletter or journal so that
to attend. we can continue to learn from and share experi-
Mountain Festival 13
HSA Board members Allison Cox, Diane ence with each other.
Rooks, Fran Yardley and I were happily able to In the past, our newsletter schedule has been
Society for Arts in
Healing Conference 14 make it to Denver this year. We all received won- post conference (August), post festival (Novem-
derful feedback from the NSN Board, state liai- ber), and spring (April/May). This year, our next
sons and so many others about the quality of the newsletter will not be out until February, 2003,
Call for HSA Proposals 15
work HSA has done and continues to do. The so look for it then and stay in touch through the
third issue of our journal, Diving in the Moon, listserv. We welcome you also to email, call or
was distributed to members at the conference and, write any of the board members with comments,
as with our past issues, people were impressed questions and suggestions.
with the depth, quality and beauty of the publi- Thanks to all HSA members for your inter-
cation. Congratulations once again to Journal est, support and for the work you do with
Editor Allison Cox and thanks to all who helped healing story.
and contributed. Members who could not attend Gail Rosen, Chair

[Ed. Note]: This issue contains a wealth of articles about the 2002 NSN Con-
ference in Denver. These articles will be identified using the mountain graphic
you see here. Our immense gratitude goes out to the many willing and able
reporters who covered workshops and speeches so we could share them with
the larger Healing Story community.
dangerous fairy journey faced with risk and
choice because the familiar rows of chairs were
gone. The room was filled with round tables.
Wherever we chose to sit, those six or seven
Emissaries From the strangers would become our story buddies and
our listeners as the ordinary round table would
Healing Story Alliance Imagination Craft Life into metamorphose into a life raft, magic carpet, fear-
101 Courthouse Square Healing Lore ful cavern or slippery glass mountain.
I chose my table the way any everyday hero
Jonesborough, TN 37659 Preconference Workshop embarks on a fairy journey – by accident. As we
Dr. William Noonan began, we were each handed a spiral bound work-
book, Emissaries From the Imagination. I will
Reported by Erica Lann Clark tell you now, in retrospect, that its 39 pages are a
gold mine of material for anyone who wants to

The mission of the Healing Story Alliance learn Dr. Noonan’s method for transforming di-
is to explore and promote the use of ur internal sense of meaning, so central saster into a healing tale. But as I looked at them
storytelling in healing. By “storytelling in to our well being, is severely challenged then, first Bengt Holbek’s principles (from his
healing”, we mean the telling and evoking of by disruptive experiences such as loss, tragedy book, Interpretation of Fairy Tales), and then
stories to support people and communities to
or the sudden onset of life-threatening illness. Vladimir Propp’s 3l functions, (a term based on
find their own way to healing and wholeness
physically, emotionally and spiritually. The age-old question, “Why?”, has no answer. his structural analysis of folktales from his book,
Insofar as our mission is broad, we welcome Life defies logic. We may easily accept Life’s Morphology of the Folktale), I tell you frankly I
members who hold differing viewpoints, miracles and joy, asking for no explanation, but thought I had bitten off more than I could chew.
styles, perspectives and opinions about we are as easily tempted to call Life senseless
storytelling. As a membership organization, when disaster strikes. I will tell you now, that it is
our mutual commitment is to respect and How do we make meaning of Life when it
honor our diversity.
a gold mine of material for
serves up senseless events? Not through neat anyone who wants to learn
rational answers, according to Dr. William Dr. Noonan’s method...
Noonan, a healer and folklorist. He proposes that
Board Members meaning is restored through the gradual telling
of our story, the so-called narrative act, which I’m no folklorist, just a storyteller. Like most
Our titles are brief, but our commitment is deep.
implies the presence of at least two: a teller and storytellers I know, I’ve witnessed the healing
This is a team effort...
one or more listeners. Acts of imagination reach power of stories in both my students and in the
Gail Rosen beyond reason and make meaning. With a twist listeners who come forward at the end of a
Chair of fancy, the imagined shifts from villain to hero, storytelling concert. Like many storytellers, I from foe to friend. A failure can become a ve- have worked with a variety of “at-risk” popula-
hicle of redemption, a frog can become a be- tions as well. And there have been times when
Allison Cox witched prince, Rumplestiltskin’s name can be I’ve been guided to tell just the right story for a
Vice Chair overheard. As Noonan says, “The imagination wounded listener, a friend waiting for death, a
Journal/Website Editor
is the productive organ of adaptation with which child tired of being called “stupid”. But I can’t
one responds to, alters and augments the world.” analyze tales. I proceed by intuition. I tell a lot
Meg Gilman of personal tales along with folktales and I’m not
Outreach Coordinator How do we make mean- sure I could analyze them according to Holbek and Propp. So I crossed my arms and got ready
ing of Life when it serves
to resist.
Dr. Andre B. Heuer, LICSW up senseless events? Then Bill Noonan, a tall, diffident, kindly
Community Networking, ListServ man, began talking about how he felt a bit
I arrived at the National Storytelling Con- daunted teaching this kind of story making to
ference in Denver a day early to attend the all- storytellers because he originally created his
Caren Neile
Social Action Committee day Healing Alliance pre-conference workshop, method for those who confront life-threatening Emissaries from the Imagination, led by Dr. illnesses. While his method is suited for serious
William Noonan, a chaplain with a doctorate in illness like cancer, it is not limited to that. Any-
Diane Rooks folklore. His workshop wasn’t intended to help one who has endured a major change in their lives
Resource Coordinator, Secretary us create works of art, but instead to show us can benefit from this method. A person can be- how to discover meaning through the use of our gin to develop a story or mythic awareness about
imaginations, our fantasy, our metaphors. Using his or her life.
Laura Simms
Consultant, Forum the disasters in our own lives as the raw material Hmmm, that sounded intriguing, and before for the unrehearsed stories our imaginations I knew it, Bill Noonan had won me over with his
would create, we would turn life into lore; we clarity, his honesty, and his intelligence. For
Fran Yardley would create personal folktales to describe in many years, as chaplain, bereavement counselor
Newsletter Editor metaphor a powerful, disruptive personal expe- and healing arts coordinator, Bill Noonan listened rience or life altering event. And we would also to the stories of hospitalized patients. One day, a
learn how to teach the process to others. All in friend said, “You should start telling stories to
one day-long workshop! the patients. In fact, you should get a Ph.D. in
As soon as the sixty to seventy participants storytelling.” He did just that, at U.C.Berkeley,
walked into the room, we knew we were on a where he became a folklorist.


To help us approach our first workbook ex- can often be, so you think you are with one, but As for me, more than once during the work-
ercise, Dr. Noonan told us a strange story, not you’re really with the other. shop I felt how lacking technical knowledge of
the sort of thing we’d hear for entertainment, but Later, when we considered Projection, in folktales held me back from skillful manipula-
rather a story created by a cancer survivor to make which “feelings and reactions in the protagonist’s tion of metaphor. I also felt how lack of training
meaning for herself. She had been guided by Dr. mind are presented as phenomena occurring in as a counselor inhibited me. Even if I could help
Noonan. She had used his storytelling method. the surrounding world”, we accompanied someone develop their healing story, how would
Her story wasn’t “universal art”. It was the op- Noonan as he visited his wizard with the magi- I discern which elements of their story had thera-
posite—a good example of how unique our per- cal dice whose numbers kept changing even when peutic potential for them?
sonal metaphors are and how, when we encode they weren’t rolling. The wizard demanded that
our horror, anguish, frustration, fear, anger in the hero choose a number immediately! We saw
the landscape, heard the wizard’s insistence, saw We talked afterwards about
story, that story is as inimitable as our finger-
the devilish dice and heard Bill choose a num- how it’s no accident we
prints. In hearing her story, I heard with relief
that I certainly was going to proceed by my intu- ber. We perceived the edge of uncertainty in his choose to tell the folktales
ition and I could let Bengt Holbek’s principles voice. Would it be the right number? Would the we tell.
and Vladimir Propp’s functions help give some treatment work?
form, some guideposts to my metaphor making. Of course, we also did the exercises in the Nonetheless, it was powerful to explore
workbook ourselves at our tables, as many of turning personal tragedy into metaphor. Folktale
them as we could cram into a day—a daunting “brings order to the chaos of feeling”. A tutored
task! We’d write, then share around the table and imagination can open possibilities and new
then whoever wanted could share with the whole directions. Depending on one’s imaginative re-
room. Because we were a room full of storytell- sourcefulness, what was previously viewed as a
ers, the story fragments we shared were often limit could become essential to an emergent,
clever, funny, moving, but the material was never novel phase of personal being.
literary—it was therapeutic. To those of you who didn’t get a chance to
At my table, first we saw a slew of meta- attend this workshop, to anyone with an interest
phors. Nobody’s metaphors seemed really to in the intersection of personal life and metaphor,
connect or lead towards a story. Then, as we to anyone who works with story as a healing pro-
kept working the exercises, one after the other, cess, I strongly recommend getting Emissaries
we could see themes emerge. A self-revelatory from the Imagination and working through the
story was hidden in metaphor. People were exercises. Bill Noonan’s style is straightforward.
shackled, imprisoned in towers, dragging chains. He gives you just enough overview and philoso-
There were strange allies and enemies. Several phy, then takes you through the steps of creating
of us cried when we had to read our “stuff” to a story. It’s a remarkable workbook. It will widen
the others at our table. But as the day wore on, your view.
we progressed; we felt each other’s pain and cried
and let each other cry. We sensed healing emerg-
ing out of shifting themes of metaphors—birds
escaped their cages, slaves took off their irons.
By the end of the day, we found ourselves deeply
moved by each other’s stories, though the sto-
ries were without panache and style—not con- Dr. Noonan’s workbook, Emissaries
cert storytelling. We talked afterwards about how from the Imagination, can be ordered
it’s no accident we choose to tell the folktales directly from him.; $12.00 plus $3.85
we tell. shipping & handling. Write:
Dr. William Noonan
We sensed healing emerg- 2431 E. 14th Street
As we began working with our life-threat- The Dalles, OR 97058.
ing out of shifting themes
ening events, Bill Noonan told us about his re- of metaphors—birds es-
cent experience with prostate cancer. He shared
his experience of denial, the shocking awareness caped their irons. By the
of his mortality, the plethora of treatments avail- end of the day, we found
able, each with their own benefits and cautions, ourselves deeply moved by
which made the process of coming to a decision each other’s stories.
a whirligig of confusion. But he embedded his Erica Lann-Clark is a storyteller, poet, play-
story in an unfinished folktale, a work-in- wright and Therapeutic Touch therapist, with a
progress, because he is still dealing with his life- Dr. Noonan created this storymaking background in traditional Chinese medicine. She
altering event. method for people who confront life-threaten- has been featured at many California storytelling
Throughout the day, as we struggled to turn ing illnesses. It could be adapted to anyone who festivals, is the Director of Storytelling at
life experiences into metaphor, Dr. Noonan re- has endured a major change in their lives—at- Stagebridge and storyteller-in-residence for
ferred to his story for modeling and example. risk youth, victims of domestic violence, teen Watsonville School for the Arts.
When we worked on the Split, in which “con- moms, incest victims, etc. But, as Dr. Noonan
flicting aspects of a character are distributed upon reminded us more than once, his method is best
different figures in the tale”, we met Dr. Noonan’s suited in a counseling session with a trained thera-
identical twins: Morton T. Ally (mortality) and pist. His method is a tool for counselors to help
Dee Niles Ally (denial). They were tricky as twins their patients/counselees create personalized folk


culture with the arrival of the Spaniards in janitor at Columbine High School on April 20,
Mexico. These prophets were murdered by their 1999. During the midst of gunfire, smoke, fire
Aztec emperor to prevent them from warning the alarms and sprinklers going off, he urged students
people across the lands. Montezuma refused to from the cafeteria and pushed them into the hall-
believe that the dreams were true. Dr. Estés chal- way, yelling “Ruuuun!” He locked hall doors,
Mentoring: lenged us to tell the truth; to “be willing to speak
of shadows and failures —those times when we
keeping students in the rooms where they would
be safe. He climbed above the ceiling panels,
How to Be an Elder: couldn’t rise to the task… to speak of darkness”
too. We cannot be silenced, she warned, for when
peeking into room after room to tell the students
that they would be all right. If we are to follow
The Gifts and the Challenges the “dreamers, the peacemakers, the old believ- the path of La Santa Sombra, we must “let go of
ers” are gone, annihilated, the threads of a cul- ego…” and “believe in something greater than
ture will unravel. ourselves.”
Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Ph.D
She reminded everyone that
Reported by Allison Cox

our work is sacred art when
hen I first saw Dr. Clarissa Pinkola we tap into the spirit of
Estés, years back at the Women of another’s healing journey.
Wisdom Conference in Seattle, she had just con-
tracted Bels Palsy, a form of facial paralysis, usu-
ally temporary, resulting from damage to the cra- At this point, I was searching for the tissue
nial nerve. She slowly walked on stage and sat I was certain lay buried in my purse, but of course
in a chair, draped in a dark satin shawl. She apolo- remained hidden. And I wished that I had on a t-
gized to us for carrying the oversized handker- shirt so that I could just pull it up over my face
chief and explained that if we didn’t mind her and wipe my whole face clean before popping it
patting the drool from the one side of her mouth back on, just as I did as a child. I felt a need to
throughout the day, she planned to go right ahead start fresh and listen even more deeply, but it was
with the conference and talk to us with the other suddenly over. People were thanking her and ap-
half of her face. We filled that vaulted church plauding. And here I felt that we were just get-
ceiling with cheers and drums resounded. I re- ting started. I had been so ready to hear more
member thinking “That woman has guts!”, or as stories. Last time we had the luxury of time. Dr.
Dr. Estés told as at the NSN Conference—“Ova- Estés talked to us for hours. I still wanted to hear
ries!” We breathed collectively that morning as some folktales, to travel among the old stories
she spun tales for us and we sang out questions with her across the landscape of our imagination.
in the afternoon that Dr. Estés answered with And so I ask—please, Dr.Estés, I know that
warmth and humor. She was remarkable. the personal stories are important. So many sa-
lient conversations with storytellers at the con-
We cannot be silenced, she ference were rising to the surface of my thoughts
warned, for when the throughout your talk. It was inspiring, relevamt.
painful and revealing—and still, please, won’t
“dreamers, the peacemak-
you come back and tell us some more stories from
ers, the old believers” are
long ago when everyone understood that there
annihilated, the threads of “Many of us are of more than two races or are those who can dream the future? I want to
a culture will unravel. heritages,” she told us. We have both the “con- listen to those dreamers and walk with them—
quered and the conqueror in the same bloodline.” all the better to envision a new future.
At the NSN Conference, a beautiful Dr. Dr. Estés believes that those born since the world
Estés stood in suede heels and a brilliant red wars are here for a reason—to be the harbingers
dress… I remembered back to Seattle when she of peace and that we must tell out stories to help If you wish to quote Dr. Estés from this article,
had spoken of the story, The Red Shoes, com- the world find its way through these dangerous you must first contact her office and request per-
menting, “I really do miss wearing those high times. mission; (303) 777-6577.
heels…” The contrast of these two experiences
was striking. This time Dr. Estés seemed more
subdued, slower to warm to story, first bringing Dr. Estés challenged us to
forth acknowledgements, jests and poems. I must tell the truth; to “be willing
admit I did love the poems —especially the one to speak of shadows and
about her patron saint, Guadalupe, as a girl gang failures—those times when
leader in heaven. It reached right down to my we couldn’t rise to the task…
Catholic school roots. I could see those girls,
to speak of darkness.”
uniforms skirts rolled up so short. They would
stand forever in the school bathroom, arms up-
lifted, ratting their hair and bragging that they
hid razor blades in their bouffants in case there She spoke to us of the importance in her Allison Cox is co-editor and contributor for two
was a fight after school. life of what her family calls La Santa Sombra — books that will be released in February, 2003 ;
And then Dr. Estés began to slip into story The Saint Shadow. This is the one who assists The Healing Heart; Storytelling to Encourage
as she told us the meaning of the title of Ana and exits, his or her shadow leaving last—one Caring and Healthy Family and The Healing
Castillo’s book, Massacre of the Dreamers; of who never looks over his shoulder to see the out- Heart; Storytelling to Build Strong and Healthy
the dreaming priests who foretold the end of their come. For Dr. Estés , it was this humble man, a Communities;


Once Upon A Self:
Creating Original Fairy Tales for Personal Growth and Delight
Judith Black
Reported by Allison Cox

J udith Black illustrated how “stories are a

talisman to hang your hat on.” She led us
“into the woods” of constructing tales based on
the child’s behavior was not due to his father
being locked away but to the fear that one day
his father may return.
She warned that not all people are at the
our own struggles, finding our “places of dis-
comfort” and identifying those blessings or gifts stage where they can come full circle with their
that enable us to conquer personal demons. Judith story, to reframe the tale into new meaning for
stated “we can re-author our lives” and journey their lives. Sometimes, these stories simply al-
from where we are to where we want to be. She low the teller to “face your demons.” She de-
described a variety of functions that these sto- scribed an attendee at one of her workshops, a
ries can offer. One such function is “Discharge woman who had been sexually abused through-
Tales” illustrated by this story: a boy sat in school out her life and who spoke in a meek sweet voice
detention while Judith told him the folktale, about the atrocities she had endured. The work-
“Bluebeard”. The principal had shared with her shop participants joined this woman in reenact-
that this child had been acting out since his fa- ing her experience through a spontaneous
ther had been sent to jail. folktale, thus empowering her to denounce her
The boy later presented Judith with his abusers and end their grip over her ability to ex-
spontaneous drawing of his own personal nem- press herself. “Whose voice is that in your head
esis, “Blackbeard”, and told his own version of being mean to you?” Judith asked us. “Life is
the tale, of a man who was being kept behind hard enough without you punishing yourself!”
bars “so he couldn’t get out.” Judith realized that This workshop offered potent pathways for uti-
lizing story “to create the world as we want it to

Metaphors and Fairy Tales for Healing Story Work

Dr. William Noonan and Judith Black
Reported by Elsa Zuniga

I am merely a “cracked pot” as I attempt to

carry to you water from the wells of two of
the NSN Conference workshops, Once Upon a
Once the gears had shifted, Noonan ex-
plained that the story making method helps
people make sense of experience and integrate it
Judith Black’s workshop was set up in an
audience/presenter format. Although the work-
shop wasn’t participatory, it was by no means
Self with Judith Black and Emissaries from the into their life in order to move on. After describ- less engaging. Judith expertly wove together her
Imagination with Dr. William Noonan. ing his storytelling method and setting some ba- personal fairy tale and observations, snippets of
Although these workshops differed from sic ground rules and guidelines, he walked us others’ fairy tales and colorful threads of thought
one another in format, they contained the same through the different structures found within fairy into an entwining presentation.
basic message; working with metaphors and tell- tales. For a majority of the structures, we were Throughout the workshop, Judith demon-
ing your stories through fairy tales is a powerful, given time to work on a relevant exercise, share strated the different ways personal fairy tales can
healing art. Using their own, unique styles, our work with our table, and then share our find- heal. Among other things, stories can be used to
Noonan and Black relayed this message by en- ings with the larger group. discharge, reframe a problem, face demons and/
gaging the audience through examples and, of or create the world one wants. She encouraged
course, stories. Working with metaphors us to go to our place of discomfort and face our
Dr. Noonan conducted a hands-on work- and telling your stories demons. Of course, she only did this after re-
shop set up in a room with many round tables. through fairy tales is a minding us that we not only always win our
The first exercise involved introducing ourselves powerful, healing art. battles, we also get to choose how we win them.
to our tablemates, not by what we do but by a Judith’s personal fairy tale and overall pre-
metaphor of what we do. Noonan gave the fol- Between exercises, Noonan shared fairy sentation was inspiring. I left feeling eager to
lowing example, “If I am a student, I might say tales that cancer patients (including himself) had explore my fairy tale world and ready to win some
‘I am a sponge.’” At first, there was mostly written. By the end of the workshop, I was con- fairy tale battles.
stunned silence as a response. But soon there vinced there is great value even in the exercise
were three way mirrors, bridges, birds, and bus- of finding metaphors to represent different as- Elsa Zuniga is a storyteller, storylistener, problem
solver, and conversation companion. You can learn
ses in the room! pects of one’s story. more about her by visiting
or by contacting her via e-mail:


touched them. Some said they liked the angrier CN: Is Tapestry pretty much “set” or is it
Caren Neile was unable to attend one because they felt angry; all they could hear always evolving, perhaps to reflect current
the NSN Conference, but never- was the anger. So for them, the second story was events?
theless submitted these articles boring; they couldn’t connect. Others were tired BJ: We have a basic structure and within
of anger, threatened by it and felt very discon- that structure, we might add some lines. This
which give a good sense of three nected from me by that story. When I told the story would be something that we would okay with
Healing Story workshops. from a non-angry process, those girls were sigh- each other before the performance. For instance,
ing with relief; they made eye contact. It was very and this doesn’t necessarily reflect current
Caren S. Neile is HSA Social Action Committee interesting to talk about the fact that when you events, we begin the presentation by presenting
chair. She teaches storytelling at Florida Atlan- tell a story with anger, you will connect with some to the audience two symbols of our peoples that
tic University in Boca Raton. and not with others. We also discussed how to reflect something that an Arab or Jewish family
tell your own story so that it will be heard and might have in their home as a symbol of wel-
secondly, how to tell other people’s stories. One come and a symbol of peace. At a recent perfor-
young woman said, ‘I didn’t realize that I was mance, I wanted to bring that in at the end, given
tired of being angry. So when I heard you, it was what was going on at the time at the Jenin refu-
like, I don’t want to be there anymore.’” gee camp (an alleged massacre). And that some
Bobby’s story is the first one he ever told, an day, we hope that homes displaying a hamsa (a
Violence Reduction allegory that he relates to nonviolence work… symbol common to the cultures of the Mediter-
Through Storytelling “Once upon a time, I, Zhung Tzu, fell asleep
and dreamed I was a butterfly. And I was con-
ranean, including the Jewish community) and a
platter displaying the words for “welcome” in
Activities scious only of my nature as a butterfly, fluttering Arabic may again sit side by side in peace.
Bobby Avstreih and Susan Kaplan hither and thither, when suddenly I awoke and

found myself a man again. Now I do not know if
enver-area storyteller/educators Bobby I was then a man dreaming he was a butterfly, or
Avstreih and Susan Kaplan presented if I am now a butterfly dreaming it is a man. Be-
Violence Reduction Through Storytelling Activi- tween a man and a butterfly, there is necessarily a
ties in which they introduced storytelling activi- mutuality. This is called ‘becoming’.
ties that have formed the core of their more than
25 years of combined violence reduction work That’s something that story-
in prison, school and family settings. Here are tellers create... the place of AG: What we often do is share with each
condensed versions of stories that illuminate
balance within which any- other e-mails and articles, such as a story about
some of their most cherished ideas about non-
violence. thing can happen. two young Palestinian women who had been in
Susan’s personal story describes one happy the U.S. for the Academy Awards and couldn’t
incident in the long process of building peaceful get back to the West Bank. We talked about what
relationships… To do conflict resolution work, to do alter- they were quoted as saying in the newspaper
“Last summer I was working with Building native to violence work, you have to hold that here in Atlanta. Sometimes, as we talk about
Bridges, the summer camp of the organization place of becoming, the place of possibility. D.W. current events, a reference to the specific event
Seeking Common Ground. They had a very dif- Winnicott uses the imagery ‘potential space’. won’t show up in our presentation, but we look
ficult time getting both Palestinian and Israeli That’s something that storytellers create; that’s at our presentation and see if the contents con-
girls to come to the camp, so they had a reunion what ‘once upon a time’ is all about, the place of tinue to reflect the current reality. If need be,
camp. Only girls who had been to at least one balance within which anything can happen. To do we make additions or modifications.
camp session were there; some had been to two nonviolence work is to believe in possibility.” CN: What kinds of responses have you got-
or three. We were attempting to teach, through ten, both from the public and from family mem-
storytelling, how to see the ‘third side’. This is a bers?
concept in peace and justice work to help some- AG: Initially, I was terrified about the re-
one to see the third side of peace; that is, you try sponse of the mainstream Jewish community
to see both sides of a conflict, but also a third about what I’m doing. You see, many of us have
side. In working with the girls, it was very inter- become deathly afraid that what is at stake right
esting. I told a personal story from a very angry now is the very existence of the state of Israel.
perspective. It was about Vietnam. I told the story Unfortunately, in many Jewish circles, there is
about my personal experience and also that of a sense that any criticism even of Israeli poli-
all my family members who were involved in Celebrating Our cies is seen as criticism of Israel itself. I have
different ways. I told a very, very angry story. tried to go to great lengths to say, “I wanted this
Differences: A Tapestry Arab-Jewish storytelling dialogue to exist be-
B.J. Abraham and Audrey Galex cause only this way, through telling each other
We were attempting to

our stories, do I see the existence of the state of
teach, through storytelling, ttendees at the NSN conference in Den Israel continuing. Given the blood on all of our
how to see the ‘third side’. ver enjoyed a moving experience: a per- hands, Arab and Jewish, we need to talk to each
formance of Celebrating Our Differences: A Tap- other; we need to stop dehumanizing each
Then I told the same story from the perspec- estry of Arab-Jewish Storytelling Dialogue. The other.”
tive of just telling it, trying to create the third show was created and performed by Atlanta tell- So far, the reaction we’ve gotten from au-
side and trying to just connect. Afterward we ers B.J. Abraham and Audrey Galex. B.J. and dience members who are Jewish has been, “You
talked about which story was more comfortable Audrey recently discussed the show with HSA were very fair. I was afraid there would be a lot
to hear, which was more interesting, which Social Action Committee chair Caren Neile. of Israel bashing, but there wasn’t.”
Continued on page 7...


power can be given and taken away. So take this the world. Even the bad guys and the bullies can
instead.” The final gift is a saddle-bag with a be on the mailboxes. And we paint our house
day’s supply of food that replenishes itself daily. like all the people of the world. And then we get
Healing a Wounded World The young men return home to find their vil-
lage dying of famine. They are able to heal their
clothes like all the people of the world. And that
way no harm will ever come to us.”
Milbre Burch families and neighbors with food. May it be so.
In October, I told this story in a classroom
Note from Caren Neile: Milbre Burch’s work- of second graders. I didn’t say it was a tale from
shop, Making the Heart Whole Again: Stories Afghanistan till it was over, and the gasps were
of Peace, Justice and Reconciliation for a audible; it was apparently a revelation just to be
Wounded World, grew out of September 11 th and exposed to a story from this place and these
its aftermath. Milbre approaches her topic as an people! I came back the next day and told a
artist, a human being, and, perhaps above all, a French-Canadian version of the same story, fur-
mother. A book she co-wrote with Gay Ducey, ther proof that people are people wherever they
Mother’s Milk: Folktales of Mothers and Moth- live. Making the Heart
erhood Around the World (August House), is due
out next May. This article comes from Milbre in Whole Again
advance of her workshop... Milbre Burch

S ome years ago, I was at a festival in Calif-

ornia with Bob Jenkins, a wonderful teller
and retired theater professor. It was during Desert T
Reported by Allison Cox
he session opened with audience mem
bers reading articles about September 11,
Storm and he told stories from the Middle East reactions to war and the search for peace in our
with the firm conviction that we needed to know world. My favorite was from The Onion, describ-
more about these people whom the media and ing a press conference held by God who was so
government were demonizing. I was profoundly frustrated that he had even delivered his mes-
moved by listening to their stories at a time when sage to us on stone tablets in mono-syllabic words
we were being told not to recognize the human- and we still DID NOT GET IT! Milbre affirmed
ity of these “other” human beings. that storytellers can help shape people’s world
For me the story is powerful in and of it- view. She told accessible and pertinent folktales;
I was profoundly moved by self. But being able to speak or hear about wis- I am delighted to hear stories incorporated into
listening to their stories at a dom-getting among the Afghan people was an workshops and wish this was required by NSN!
opportunity unlike any I’d been offered by the She shared her considerations for developing sto-
time when we were being
popular culture. In Margaret Read MacDonald’s ries that raised questions on these subjects, in-
told not to recognize the
book, Peace Tales , there is a Chinese tale about cluding the subtle story crafting shifts she found
humanity of these “other” an elephant who mocks the efforts of a humming- necessary to mold a story to fit her own views as
human beings. bird to keep the sky from falling. The humming- a feminist.
bird explains, “We all must do what we can do, When the audience joined in the discus-
After 9/11, I needed to find stories from Af- and this is what I can do.” That message em- sion, it became apparent that the subject of rec-
ghanistan. I found what I was looking for in powers me to do the little bit that I can do to onciliation was a topic that could have been
Amina Shah’s book, Folktales of Afghanistan. make sure tales of peace and justice and recon- talked about for days on end. Personal stories of
There’s a coming-of-age story about three young ciliation are being transmitted in our neighbor- war trophies causing rifts between families, as
soldiers returning home with nothing but the wish hoods. well as healing decades of grief were offered by
to see their families. They meet a dervish who On January first, my family went to see a Milbre and participants. The ability to forgive
gives them a shawl that will grant them whatever friend; a longtime activist and community builder and move toward peace is still a struggle for many
they desire and then a trumpet that will summon who had recently adopted a baby. As we were of us. Stories on these topics help us come closer
an army. The men don’t go home after all and driving home, my five-year-old, Elizabeth, cried to making that all important step. And thank you
soon lose both of their gifts to a crafty princess. out, “Idea! Idea! Idea! We get all kinds of mail- Milbre, for the six page bibliography of selected
When the dervish hears this, he says, “Riches and boxes, and we paint them like all the people of folktales to help set us on this path.

...“Celebrating” continued from page 6

Another surprising reaction was the wife of gotten a lecture by someone in the audience who was in office, Dennis Ross, one of his envoys
a man who was Jewish. An older woman, she might have come up to me and said, “How can involved in Middle East peace talks said, “It’s
approached me after a performance and said, you stand up there with this Jewish lady? Look one thing for the politicians to negotiate. Ordi-
“Many times my husband is not proud of being at what they did to the Palestinians.” But nobody nary people need to share their stories. That’s
Jewish. Today, you made him feel proud.” As for has shaken their finger at me. My brother who the way peace happens.”
my family, they’re thrilled, while I continue to lives here came to the first presentation; no other BJ: I think storytelling can certainly plant a
have “spirited debates” with my father about the family member of mine has seen it yet. But seed. It can get people to think, possibly by
situation. they’re all impressed and proud. watching us model peace between us. Of course
BJ: There is an extensive Lebanese com- CN: What do you see as the impact of story we didn’t have any points of contention; we
munity in Atlanta. I was a little bit fearful about on peace? weren’t angry with each other. But I’m envision-
their responses, but so far I’ve gotten nothing AG: Peace-making and conflict resolution ing being in an audience, totally disconnected
but praise. Some Lebanese are on the side of the is a process. Perhaps it’s one step forward, two from this problem, and being moved, if not to
Israelis, some on the side of the Palestinians. With steps back, yet I think story must be part of the action, at least to thought. And if that happens,
that in mind, I’m kind of surprised that I haven’t process. I remember when President Bill Clinton maybe there is hope for peace in our time.


A very comprehensive bibliography was pro- Many of us were a bit reluctant in the be-
vided at the workshop. This can be provided for ginning. “You mean I should tell my partner this
anyone interested by contacting Ann Hoban at story as a sacred story? Little Red isn’t sacred.” But Pam and Doug just invited us to try it out. I
turned to my partner and held my chosen emo-
All the King’s Children A former Secretary for the Board of Directors of
LANES, Ann Hoban comes to Healing Story from a
tion (acceptance) in my mind and heart. I felt
the story begin to unfold in a manner I never
Nancy Schimmel and Nancy Ibsen background in the visual and theatrical arts. Since would have believed possible. I literally felt ac-
receiving an MA in Clinical Mental Health Counsel- ceptance in my whole being, not just in my head.
Reported by Ann Hoban

ing, Ann works as a Counselor/Advocate for survivors
of domestic violence and sexual assault in a suburban
ll the King’s Children was a condensed hospital emergency department. We were asked to tell a
version of a longer workshop which story with a sacred inten-
Nancy Schimmel, a birth mother, and Nancy
tion rather than simply to
Ibsen, her adult birth child, presented at a re-
cent Adoption Conference. Theirs is an inspir- tell a sacred story.
ing story of birth mother and adult birth child
joyfully re-united. A song they sang in bell-like Although we didn’t have time to tell the story
unison was a touching revelation of their shared all the way through to our partners, the process
inherited talent from legendary singer, Malvina was clear by the end of the exercise and I heard
Reynolds, Nancy Schimmel’s mother and Nancy Finding the Sacred in Stories many participants remark on the power of using
Ibsen’s grandmother. intention while telling. Without telling our part-
Pam McGrath and Doug Lipman
Next came their individual stories which ners the emotion/intention we were using, most
included their independent decisions to look for partners were able to discern the emotion/inten-
Reported by Debra Olson Tolar
each other through an internet web site. They tion after hearing only a portion of the tale.

also told four different adoption tales, includ- Pam and Doug also stressed that the con-
ittle Red Riding Hood as a sacred story?
ing the ancient tales of Oedipus Rex and Moses; text (the event and audience) as well as the theme
I didn’t believe it at first, but after partici-
the first, representative of a closed adoption gone of a series of stories both contribute to the po-
pating in the workshop presented by Pam
terribly awry and the second, an open adoption tential sacredness of a story. The conscious use
McGrath and Doug Lipman, I was converted. Ac-
with the happiest of resolutions. Two other of intention, however, was the most tantalizing
cording to Pam and Doug, it is not the content of
lesser known tales for younger children finished part of their workshop for me. And just maybe
the story, but the intention with which you tell
up the presentation before the workshop was I’ll start telling “Little Red Riding Hood” as a
the story that makes it sacred.
opened up for a question and answer period. sacred story to see if anybody notices.
This segment of the workshop provided
graphic evidence that this is a subject area Debra Olson Tolar (Ph.D. in Speech Communica-
fraught with a great need for the healing power tion), a professional Storyteller and college profes-
sor living in Southern California, just recorded her
of Story. The attendees, many of whom were
first CD,“The Stars in the Sky”; storytolar@
adoptive parents, were eager to tell their stories ,
which were filled with the difficulty of ~storytolar
raising the adoptees that had come into their
lives. The need for stories from the adoptive
child’s native culture was expressed by a parent
of a small child from Southeast Asia. It was
agreed that birth stories crafted for the child,
even when little is known about her/his birth
parents, can be a creative and healing exercise
for both the child and the adoptive parent.
First Do No Harm
Gene and Peggy Helmick-Richardson
...this is a subject area
fraught with a great need Reported by Cristy West

for the healing power of
Story. s several dozen participants introduced
During the workshop Pam and Doug asked
us to talk with a partner about a sacred relation- themselves near the opening of this
workshop, it became clear that the group encom-
ship in our lives. Then, as a group, we identified
One recommendation that could be made passed a huge range of experience, from begin-
some of the emotions connected with that rela-
for future workshops on adoption might be an ners to big name performers and professional
tionship. The emotions named were quite diverse,
announcement at the beginning acknowledging health care workers. Clearly the topic was a com-
including love, passion, power, inspiration, en-
the weight of the emotional issues being pelling one.
durance, humility, letting go and fear of inad-
addressed. Then a counselor could be identified The presenters, a husband and wife team
equacy. Pam then asked us to invite in one emo-
in the room who would be available during the from Texas, started with a “smudging” ritual and
tion, to feel it. That emotion then became our
session should any deep feelings be triggered. an invocation of the four directions, thus honor-
intention and we were asked to tell a seemingly
This method has worked beautifully in other ing Gene’s Native American tradition. They
secular story, Little Red Riding Hood, holding that
highly charged workshops. It was more than shared a story about a radical new society being
intention. In other words, we were asked to tell a
clear that there are many exciting uses for created as individuals who are “imaginal cells”
story with a sacred intention rather than simply
storytelling as a healing tool for adoptive par- are forming into groups of “imaginal discs” that
to tell a sacred story.
ents, birth mothers and adoptees. will eventually bring change to the world. The
Helmick-Richardsons suggested that the group out and share it with others and get their opinions
in the room represented a “community of prac- of the story and the relationship you share with it.
tice” of the sort that could help effect this trans- Eventually, like any relationship, be it with a story
formation. Peggy and Gene also shared that their or with a partner, the goal is to find a balance be-
involvement in this kind of work manifests itself tween intellect, intuition and passion.
through volunteering storytelling programs in
Telling “Tough” Stories
Gail Rosen M. Carolyn Miller is an author, educator, storyteller;
shelters and substance abuse recovery centers.
Reported by M. Carolyn Miller

To “do no harm” must be a

primary consideration of
storytellers, whatever their
T he stage is lit with Sabbath candles, a
purple cloth, a somber tone. Reading
first from a Jewish morning prayer book and
Laura Rittenberg also wrote a comprehensive review
then from a storybook, Gail Rosen draws in
skill level. of Rosen’s workshop. Due to space constraints, we
her audience as she recounts the story of Hilda, are unable to print the whole review, but here are
a holocaust survivor. The checkerboard pattern some salient excerpts….
They suggested ways of locating venues, of the storytelling—prayer book to storybook
such as contacting United Way and the Red and back again—allows the audience to breathe Gail Rosen offered insights into approaching,
Cross. Then they went down a list of factors to in the story and offers protection. It is not an owning and shaping the difficult stories we have
consider in doing the actual work, such as con- easy story, but it is a triumphant one. It is not to tell; those that are ours and those that we are
sulting with staff, avoiding playing counselor, one Gail Rosen ever planned to tell. irresistibly compelled to tell.
reporting problems, doing background research. …Because the tough stories are both great bur-
These were all useful thoughts. dens and great gifts, they are stories that are big-
Our next task was to divide up into small How will I ever be able to ger than we, the tellers, are. In tough stories, we
groups formed by matching up puzzle pieces of do this?, I asked myself? discover a way to honor the dark and difficult ex-
faces we’d been given. People mulled around to periences of life and the strength and courage sum-
find their matches, introducing a playful element moned to cope and to survive.
into the workshop. Each face had an imagined Gail first met Hilda at a holocaust remem-
problem to go with it. For instance, our group brance gathering. At that first meeting, Hilda The greatest lesson I took
had a pale faced woman who matched up with a charged Gail with telling her story. After much from listening to Rosen’s
possible role description that she was living in a reluctance—after all, it was not her story to process was the importance
shelter for battered women. Our assignment was tell—she agreed. The two women met regularly of patience.
to think up possible stories for this person. We until Hilda died. That was when it was time to
were supposed to report back to the large group do something with Hilda’s story. “I remember …We composed on the spot and shared an
about stories we’d chosen for our imagined cli- sitting on the floor, with all these transcripts opening line of the tough story each of us brought
ent but there was not enough time to do this. around me, crying,” said Gail. “ ‘How will I to the workshop. There were stories of lost loved
Peggy explained that they just hadn’t time to ever be able to do this?’, I asked myself?” Even- ones, lost freedom, identity lost and found, chil-
cover so much within the limited time frame and tually she did and she now shares Hilda’s story dren abused, a city under attack, to name just a
that all story suggestions that were gathered could so that audiences can learn the lessons this pow- few. We worked together answering questions
still be shared with the group that had signed up erful story teaches. Rosen provided, questions which would elicit re-
on their attendance sheet. Everyone has difficult stories to tell. In sponses which would deepen with time to reflect
her conference workshop, Telling ‘Tough’ Sto- and explore... She invited us to consider the re-
ries, Gail Rosen offered a process for getting sponsibility inherent in the decision to tell the story,
to know the story that has presented itself for the principles, such as truth, artistry, commitment
Tellers can learn to work you to tell. and obligation that we must bring if we are to be
confidently and effectively The goal is to identify the relationship be- in service to it. At the end of the small group dis-
tween story and teller by asking questions such cussions, some of us were teary eyed, some were
in challenging venues.
as: What is my personal relationship with the glowing, for in our initial foray into those ques-
story I want to tell? How does it feel in my tions, we sought difficult truths and could not re-
body, e.g., does it give me a sick feeling in my main untouched by the experience. Rosen’s last
To “do no harm” must be a primary consid- stomach, does it make my shoulders hurt? Why question asked us to consider whether our answers
eration of storytellers, whatever their skill level. do I want to tell the story in the first place? to these questions would change over time, thus
This is especially true when working with frag- Who is my audience for this story and why helping us recognize that this was an ongoing pro-
ile and damaged populations. With certain basic would they care to hear it? cess and we would do well to revisit these ques-
principles more clearly understood as the essen- In the workshop, Gail had participants start tions as long as we tell the stories.
tial foundation, tellers can learn to work confi- the process of telling their own difficult sto- In Rosen’s story, in time she had arrived at a
dently and effectively in challenging venues. In ries, beginning with an opening sentence and moment of...being “ready enough” —as with
the future, I hope this topic will be discussed in then expanding (or not). What was interesting
chicken soup, the longer it sits, the richer it is on
far greater depth within the HSA community and was that as I worked with the story I wanted to the tongue. To wait for perfection might mean the
beyond. Thanks to Peggy and Gene for moving tell—or thought I wanted to tell—I was pro- story could never be told or, worse, that the story
the dialogue forward. voked to think about my relationship with the would be told and never grow or deepen from that
story. moment.
Again and again, Gail stated that this was
Cristy West is a storyteller and creative arts only one process and not the process; that one Laura Rittenberg earned an MFA in creative
therapist living in Washington, D.C. must look at the story from this angle and from writing from Antioch University in Los Angeles
that and from inside out and outside in. This in June of 2001.
work does not occur in a vacuum. You take it


Storytelling, Grief and Healing with Youth Suggested
Suggested Stories
Will Hornyak Anger
Anger work:
work: The
The Story
Story of
of the
the Half-boy
Grief work:
Bearer (India);
Reported by Kate Lutz
The Water of Life (Grimms); Skeleton
Water of Life (Grimms); Skeleton

ill Hornyak is a full-time storyteller of our losses. Grief can be described as the pro- Addiction
Addiction Issues:
Issues: Swallowing
from Portland, Oregon who has fa- cess of eldership as life constantly moves us (Nez
(Nez Perce); The KingWho
Perce); The King WhoLoved
cilitated men’s groups involving grief work and from one path to the other and back again on a (Africa)
the use of story. He has helped to create grief journey that must be sprinkled with generous Just
Just for
for Fun:
Fun: Medio
Medio Pollo
rituals for a variety of communities and most amounts of humor. Storytellers play a critical The
The Magic Box (Chinese); The
Magic Box (Chinese); TheWalking
recently worked with 15-18 year old “at-risk” role in “eldering” in all settings. Without elders, Catfish
(American Tall
Tall Tale)
youth through the Multnomah County Juvenile initiation does not happen. But wherever there
Justice System. are elders, there will be initiations and stories. Recommended
RecommendedReading Reading
The room was quiet and thoughtful as Will We then heard a story of two water jugs, La
La Vida Loca:
Vida Loca: Gang
Gang Days
Days in in L.A.
L.A. by
Hornyak led participants of his workshop in an one whole, the other leaking and of the lovely Louis
The Water
Water ofof Life
Life and
and Absence
Absence ofof El-
ders: Violence of Youth by
ders: Violence of Youth by MichaelMichael
Ritual and
and Community
Community aanndd Of Of Water
and Spirit by Malidoma
and Spirit by Malidoma Some Some
Trickster Makes
Makes This
This World
World by by Lewis
Rag and
and Bone
Bone Shop
Shop of
of the
the Heart,
Heart, aa Po-
etry Anthology, edited by Michael
Anthology, edited by Michael
Hillmanand andRobert
We’ve Had 100 Years of Psychologyand
Had 100 Years of Psychology and
the World
World isis Getting
Getting Worse
Worse by by James
Women Who
Women Who Run Run WithWith
Wolves by b y
Clarissa Pinkola Estés
Clarissa Pinkola Estes

opening ritual to name our grief. We wrote a path of flowers nurtured by the drops of water
loss on a small piece of paper and then, one by sprinkled by the leaky jug.
one, spoke our loss and placed the paper in a Once we were properly storied, we turned
cauldron to be burned at the end of the session. to the real life uses of stories in grief settings.
Bridging Communities
When everyone was finished, Will looked at the Will encouraged the group to consider not only and Cultures
cauldron, then at the participants and began; the grief connected with major events but also Garth Gilchrist
“In grief work we gather on the ground of loss, the small things that pile up and are never
not accomplishment. We are identified as much grieved. In his work with young men involved Reported by Peggy Helmick-Richardson
by what we do not have as by what we have. with the courts, he designed a ten session “ini-
Grief tends to feel like a ‘watery’ experience —
tiation” experience that used stories of anger
uring his showcase, Stories of
flowing down, dropping us into a common sea. and grief as complements to experiential pro-
Immigrants’ Journeys, Garth Gilchrist
Grief work involves risk, vulnerability. The grams such as a sweat lodge ceremony. In ini-
shared how he produced twelve radio pro-
paradox is that we create trust and a ‘safe con- tiation ceremonies, elders use terror and fear
grams of recorded stories of Latino, Haitian
tainer’ by learning to risk in a way that is safe positively by helping young men face their fears
and Vietnamese immigrants living in the
for us. In work with youth, it is the adults who and grow. In initiations and stories, we cross a
Canal District of San Rafael, California. He
must be the guides, risking first, modeling vul- threshold into a different world and back again.
also demonstrated a modern version of an age-
nerability, creating a safe place through dem- The result is a powerful affirmation because the
old means of honoring another person;
onstrating their own willingness to be both de- experience of resolving a difficulty changes the
listening to and acknowledging their story.
fenseless and resourceful.” imagination forever. We learn that the impos-
Garth took the venture one step further by
Will talked about two roads towards whole- sible can become the possible. Stories reveal
allowing others, who normally would not have
ness. On one road, Ascent into Spirit, we de- the commonness of anger and grief to all hu-
the opportunity, to participate in the process.
fine ourselves by what we have gained; the manity.
These people played their role through the
adrenaline, the excitement and the element of medium of radio.
fire. The other road is the Descent into Soul, Kate Lutz is a Colorado storyteller who works Garth described the nuts and bolts of
where we are plunged into darkness, loss, de- with hospice programs on grief, loss and putting together the series of radio stories for
pression and the element of water. Levity be- storytelling; Radio Canal on KSRH. He covered equipment
comes the air that allows us to dive to the depths 303-744-8055;
Continued on page 11...


Caught in the Headlights: Facing Our Fears
Elizabeth Ellis

Reported by Sharon Creeden

The Guest HouseHouse
The Guest

T rying to condense Elizabeth Ellis’ work

shop is like trying to squeeze a Texas Blue
Norther between the pages of my hand-made
With candor and wit, she helped us pinpoint
our fears and then share them with a partner. “To
name something by its true name is to have power

morning a new
Every morning a new arrival.

journal. Her three-and-a-half-hour intensive over it,” she said. joy,aadepression,

some momentary
momentary awareness
awareness comes
workshop had it all— games, crafts, snacks, and She taught a technique using denials to “strip
gentle probing about our individual fears as sto- as
away those things from the past that no longer
rytellers. serve us.” Two examples of this are “I deny the
Elizabeth reminded us that fear, like coy- Welcome
Welcomeand andentertain
power of depression over me.” and “I deny the
ote, is a great shape shifter. Fear can take the Even
Even if they are a crowdofofsorrows,
if they are a crowd sorrows,
power of self criticism to keep me from telling
shape of depression, envy, arrogance, procrasti- stories.”
nation, self-blame... empty
Next we wrote our own affirmations. Some
examples were “What I do is enough.”, “I am
He may be clearingyou
may be clearing youout
pleased with what I create.” and “I have some-
thing important to say.”
As the final activity, we each decorated a
small mirror with affirmations to carry home and
the malice,
the malice,
remind us of our positive thoughts.
To help us welcome fear into our minds,
and invite them in.
and invite them in.
Elizabeth read a poem by Rumi, the thirteenth-
century Sufi poet.
She said fear is not our enemy; fear is there Be
because each hasbeen
each has beensent
for a purpose; fear serves as an opportunity. For Sharon Creeden resides in Seattle and Green
example, fear of poverty motivates us to work as
Valley, AZ and is the author of two collections of
harder. Each fear has a blessing and, like Jacob folktales; Fair Is Fair and In Full Bloom. Rumi
who would not release the angel until he received She may be reached at
his blessing, we must wrestle with our fears un-
til we receive our blessing.

...“Bridging Communities” continued from page 10 when attacked by bandits in Guatemala. Alone also acquired one luxury here; a stereo
and without money, Norberto continued on his system. Although Enrique hopes to eventually
used, the task of matching appropriate trek. Along the way he supported himself by return to the Yucatan, he continues to work in
translators with storytellers, editing styles and learning how to work on a fishing boat and the U.S. for a little longer because of the
defining themes. But for most of the work- eventually landed a job fishing for sharks out money he can earn.
shop, he allowed the stories to speak for on the ocean. He laughed about how he For showcase participants, Garth
themselves. After all, it was the power of the practiced swimming so he could cross the distributed the list of questions interviewees
stories he had heard from friends that first “huge” Rio Grande when he eventually were given in advance and asked during their
lured him into wanting to delve into this arrived at the border of the United States. recordings. He also shared the letter of
project. For the audience of storytellers in the introduction in both English and Spanish that
room, it was a moving and inspirational dive “They didn’t know their was given to each of the radio interview
into new depths of emotional and cultural experience was valuable”, storytellers as well as an example of a
waters. he explained. “But when narration script with the English voice-over.
Paula, a college professor from Guate- In hopes of inspiring others to tackle a similar
they know they are being
mala, told how she fled her country after her project in their community, Garth provided a
listened to, things come list of audio equipment with prices and a
husband “disappeared” following his
flooding out.” description of his own program that he uses to
announcement that he was leaving his
national intelligence job. Her home was present to other radio stations.
ransacked and mysterious men in dark suits Enrique’s enthusiasm for Burger King Garth pointed out to his audience that
trailed her before she finally made her escape, and other U.S. “amenities” was infectious. He many of those being recorded initially did not
eventually coming to San Rafael. In the is a man who works three jobs each day, understand why he wanted to interview them.
interim, she was apprehended by Immigration approximately fourteen hours, to support “They didn’t know their experience was
and Naturalization agents who accused her of himself. In spite of his hard labor, there was valuable”, he explained. “But when they
being Columbian and smuggling drugs. After no tone of resentment in his story. Enrique is a know they are being listened to, things come
winning asylum, Paula supported herself by man who appreciates the opportunities he flooding out.”
cleaning houses. gained by coming to the United States. Peggy Helmick-Richardson is a both a
Norberto shared how he escaped from his Through his efforts, Enrique sent money to his professional freelance writer and a storyteller
war-torn El Salvador with a brother and family living in a small town in the Yucatan, from Dallas, TX. She performs with her
cousin, all three intent on making it to the enough to build homes for both his parents husband Gene as the tandem duo “Twice
United States. The young men were separated and himself as well as to plant an orchard. He Upon a Time Storytellers”.
Minutes of the HSA Meeting at the 2002 NSN Conference

C hairperson Gail Rosen welcomed every-

one (approximately 60 people were
present) and announced that the third addition
Bassett, our Webmaster. She also acknowledged
the work of former board members Diane Wyzga,
Colin McNaughton, and Peggy Kenny.
is now in an online database that can be searched
by author, title, and category. All members were
encouraged to enter their favorite resources with
of the HSA journal was available for all mem- Gail stressed that we want to support the specific, descriptive information on the website
bers at the conference and would be mailed to healing interests of all members and encouraged data entry form. Fran Yardley asked for volun-
other members soon. Additional copies were those interested to participate in the new inter- teers to help with the newsletter as copy editors.
available at the conference bookstore for $10. faith and diversity discussion groups. She invited Christopher Maier, Ann Hoban, Sheila Darr,
Gail offered members copies of the new “Sample members to become part of the board and re- Darlene Dufour, Kate Lutz, Laura Rittenberg, and
Newsletter” prepared by newsletter editor, Fran minded us that every member is on the outreach Peggy Helmick offered their help and Glen Mor-
Yardley, to share with others. committee. A motion was made and seconded row agreed to get ISBN numbers for our jour-
In the three years of HSA’s existence, our for the board to continue to operate on an adhoc nals.
membership has grown to 250 members with over basis. Discussion followed: something should be Gail discussed the community gatherings as
200 active participants on our listserv. We have in place by the next conference for the replace- described by board member, Andre Heuer, and
helped NSN to understand the importance of ment of board members; board shouldn’t all ro- distributed a handout prepared by Andre with
special interest groups within the organization tate off at once—value of continuity; interested gatherings that we already know about. The group
and increased understanding of storytelling as a members should step forward to help create a then divided into the seven NSN regions to net-
healing art. viable procedure; all members welcome to be part work and brainstorm about ways that gatherings
Gail then introduced the old and new board of the board based on individual interests. The and support could be facilitated in each region.
members who were present—Allison Cox, Fran question was called and the motion passed. The Members of each region exchanged email ad-
Yardley, Diane Rooks, and Cristy West—and invitation for members to establish a procedure dresses to be used for future developments and
described the functions they perform for the or- and be on the board will go out in a future news- each group reported the highlights of the session
ganization. She mentioned the board members letter. to the entire group. Some of the results are re-
not present—Andre Heuer, Caren Neile, Laura Allison Cox asked for more member input ported below.
Simms, and Meg Gilman—and the roles they for the journal, the newsletter, and the website. The meeting was adjourned.
have within the organization and included Mark Diane Rooks announced that our bibliography Diane Rooks
Secretary, Resource Coordinator

Summary of Regional Groups at the HSA Meeting

Western Region (AZ, CO, ID, MT, NM, 1. To see if we can get space and time to Northeast Region (CT, DE, ME, MD, MA,
UT, WY) Submitted by Jaime Weisberg meet at the Rocky Mountain Storytelling Festi- NH, NJ, NY, DC, PA, RI, VT)

val and/or Conference. Submitted by Ann Hoban

e began with an introduction of every- 2. To add to the Tempe Storytelling Festi-
one there and what topics they’re val that is in the works (contact Lorraine e had a very free flowing discussion.
working with or interested in. We had people Calbow). Here are some of the ideas which
from all over Colorado (Denver, Greeley, Ft. 3. To work towards a Healing Story confer- were raised:
Collins, Golden, Longmont) as well as Salt Lake ence to address the use of story in the healing How can we get together to network? A
City, Utah, Tempe, Arizona, and New Mexico. professions and make sure to emphasize ethics meeting at the Sharing the Fire Conference is a
People are working in a lot of different in storytelling for those in the health care pro- possibility. There have already been two meet-
areas: elder care, hospice, grief (death and fession who want to use story but aren’t aware ings at STF. Buddy sharing is another option.
change), interfaith issues, conflict, diversity, off how to do so responsibly. We discussed the idea of having ad hoc
stress, prevention, personal healing, reiki, medi- workshops with possibly a national level teller
tation, environmental loss (e.g. fire), Judaism, in studios, homes, churches, community centers.
and law enforcement. South Central Region. (KA, OK, TX, LA, Then we discussed whether community building
There are also many of us who are inter- AR, MI) Submitted by Sheila Darr would be more likely with an equal level of tell-

ested in learning more about or exploring these ers rather than one “expert”.
areas. We feel it is important to note that: ome of the ideas we discussed were: We discussed theme circles. How do we
1. Many are interested in involvement who gather people together? We agreed that gather-
are not already using the healing power of sto- 1. Searching the HSA membership roster ing in person is critical so that we can support
ries in professional work. by state to identify other members in the South each other. We realized that we need to focus on
2. There is a real interest in using the HSA Central region (to create a mailing list). two levels of community; the “inner circle” (us)
SIG for educational purposes, to learn more about 2. Planning a retreat for South Central mem- and the larger community we’d like to create.
the ways of using storytelling in healing. bers to network and share ideas. We all have inner wisdom and we’d like to
3. Identifying places where we can spread meet and interact in ways that excavate that
Our main concern was to meet the needs of the word about HealingStory and what we do, knowledge.
the group and not duplicate the work of the gen- such as ministerial alliances, colleges and uni-
eral HSA listserv. A need for conversation was versities, groups/organizations for health profes- [Ed. Note]: As of publication date, we had not
expressed. The main ideas we came up with were: sionals, hospitals and hospices. heard from the other regions. We hope to include
their reports in the next newsletter.
14 th Rocky Mountain
Storytelling Festival
The Dance of Life
By Yvonne Young
Interfaith Storytelling

Reported by Max Hale
ome folks said the Fourteenth Rocky
Mountain Storytelling Festival at Palmer
Lake, Colorado was a success before it started.
A t the conference of the Association of
Death Education and Counseling in Port-
land, Oregon, I attended a day long workshop
Group Formed
At the recent NSN Conference in
Volunteers, tried and true, under the experienced given by Gail Rosen on using storytelling in grief Denver, an announcement for storytellers
guidance of John Stansfield, Director, and his work. Gail shared a personal story about her interested in inter-faith telling and stories
wife, Carol, set the stage. By the time the head- mother’s Alzheimer’s, beautifully interwoven brought 35 people to an initial meeting
liners took the stage, the audience was ready. with a Native American tale about Coyote danc- on this area of storytelling.
Early on, one of the emcees spoke of the ing with the star people. The story appeared in Introductions were made and discus-
Kiowa Indians coming out of the Rockies on their the HSA Journal, Diving in the Moon, Issue 2, sion was held on the value of network-
way to becoming Plains Indians and coming to Summer 2001, in an article entitled The Widow ing. Two main areas of interest emerged:
“a place where they had to change their lives.” as Butterfly by Dr. Terry Tafoya. Gail got per- 1. The desirability of supporting,
The emcee promised that those who had gath- mission from him to use the story in her sharing resources and enabling each other
ered to hear the storytellers had also come to a storytelling and grief counseling work. in the faith-based work that we already
place where they would change their lives—no Gail asked us to use art materials to respond do.
empty promise as it turned out. to a story. I didn’t seem to feel like using the art 2. The possibility of establishing in-
materials. Next thing I knew the words to this ter-faith story circles in various areas of
... those who had gathered poem appeared in my head. the country.
to hear the storytellers had Information-gathering and discus-
also come to a place where sions of how this new NSN Discussion
they would change their Group might be structured are underway.
lives. A listserv is being set up to facilitate com-
The Dance of Life munication.
Norma Livo assumed her rightful place as If you have an interest in faith-based/
grande dame of the event with her warm and Parts fall away, inter-faith storytelling, please send your
wonderful spirit and stories that amplified the But the dance of life name, address, e-mail address and a de-
theme: Story Medicine—Humor and Healing. Goes on. scription of your faith-tradition and/or
She laid claim to being the oldest in years. The A mother dies.... interest in this work to: Gert Johnson;
youngest storyteller was Mick Harris, who, at age or Sheila Darr;
Parts fall away.
nine, told a delightful tale of the trickster Coy-
ote. The power of music and words of Dennis A girl grows up,
Questions and comments are wel-
Freeman, now from Arizona, set a pace and a stan- goes to college, come. We are excited about this venture
dard that challenged and delighted everyone. and marries. and hopeful that many of you will join
Greg Martin, a mountain man from Glen Haven, Parts fall away, us.
Colorado and first-timer at the Festival, regaled But the dance of life
everyone with homespun humor from the hills. Goes on.
Max Hale, from nearby Monument, added just
the right touch of low-key humor and depth in A daughter is born.
stories inspired by his storytelling father. Beth
The dance of life
Kopit, a professional without equal from Boul-
der, Colorado, provided a powerful presence and Goes on.
A husband leaves... HSA Bibliography Update
But it was Cassandra Sewell, a forty-two- Parts fall away.
Attention Members! You can now
year-old electrical engineer from Denver, who A daughter leaves...
enter you favorite healing story resources
stole the show on more than one occasion. She Parts fall away. directly on the HSA website online bibli-
was compelling enough as Harriet Tubman and The daughter returns home. ography. Make our bibliography more
Maya Angelou. But it was when she told of her The dance of life useful by adding specifics about the re-
grandmother, the trials she faced as an African- Goes on. sources. Select Member’s Resource Form
American in her native Mississippi and the les- from “What’s New” or from the bibliog-
sons of love that reached beyond survival to in-
That daughter marries, raphy page. Please email Diane Rooks,
spire a love powerful enough to transform hate,
and gives birth, if you have
that Cassandra received a well-deserved stand- questions or problems.
ing ovation. Look for her one day at to two sons.
For your information, the HSA
Jonesborough. She’ll be the willowy six-foot Parts fall away,
website address is
woman sporting high-heels and speaking in a But the dance of life
black velvety voice. Goes on.
Workshops offered help for both the begin-
ning and advanced storytellers and illustrated the Yvonne Young
value and power of healing stories. Folks left the
event saying they could hardly wait for the first
weekend of August, 2003 for the next Festival.


Society for the Arts lives within all of us. Revisit what it means to be breakfast by discipline and a network luncheon
human. Revision the nature of the work we are by region promoted getting to know people with
in Healing Conference doing. Honor the diversity of life.” She closed common interests and goals.
April 17 – 20, 2002 with this wonderful Chinese proverb:
“If there’s light in the soul, there’s beauty
Reported by Diane Rooks in the person. She reminded everyone that
If there’s beauty in the person, there’s har- our work is sacred art when

mony in the house. we tap into the spirit of
he 2002 National Conference for the If there’s harmony in the house, there’s or- another’s healing journey.
Society for the Arts in Healthcare was held der in the nation.
April 17 – 20 in Gainesville, Florida. The key- If there’s order in the nation, there will be
note speeches, workshops, networking sessions peace in the world.” I honestly cannot say enough positive things
and social gatherings were inspiring as each new The other keynotes were outstanding too. about the wonderful four days I spent at this con-
experience expressed ways in which the arts are Blair Sadler, President and CEO of Children’s ference. I made new friends, discovered new op-
being used in healthcare environments world- Hospital, San Diego, spoke about The Healing portunities, found inspiration, learned more than
wide. The conference was an opportunity to net- Arts:AKeytoTransforming21st Century Health I dreamed was possible, and truly felt part of a
work, learn from each other and share our sto- Care; Patch Adams, MD emphasized the impor- vital healing community. I would recommend at-
ries. As President Naj Wikoff said in his opening tance of humor in healing as he described An tending anything this dynamic group offers and
comments, “You’re not the only person who is Arts Centered Hospital (and, yes, he is as wacky hope to attend their conferences in the future.
using the arts to support the process of healing. as Robin Williams portrayed him in the movie); The 2003 conference, hosted by Aesthetics,
Often you feel like you’re out there in the wil- Don Campbell, author of The Mozart Effect, gave Inc., San Diego Children’s Hospital and Scripps
derness, but actually you’re part of a family, part an overview of how practitioners and caregivers Health, will be April 9 – 12 at The Holiday Inn
of a tribe.” I was overwhelmed at the creative can best use music and sound to enhance their on the Bay in San Diego. The theme is Trans-
ways artists are using the visual, literary and per- work. Coleman Barks, PhD and author of The forming Healthcare Through the Arts: Healing
forming arts to demonstrate the valuable role the Essential Rumi, gave readings from Rumi and Our Patients, Our Communities and Ourselves.
arts play in enhancing the healing process. I was presented Listening to the Guide of the Soul; You will be transformed if you attend!
impressed by the number of health organizations Rumi’s Poetry and Communal Health. Leonard
that have active arts programs in place and the Shlain, MD and author of The Alphabet Versus
number of arts organizations that have outreach the Goddess, talked about the research for his
programs to those who need healing. book and the conflict between word and image.
The stated goal of the conference was “to
offer you creative experiences and knowledge
Each new experience that you can use to expand the world of art in Dr. David Satcher to be on Board of
expressed ways in which healing in your own community. We invite you International Storytelling Center
the arts are being used in to realize fully the artist within you and open
healthcare environments your heart and mind to new possibilities. We have
worldwide. invited a group of extraordinary presenters from Kathy McGregor, member of the
all over the world to share their wisdom. Our Healing Story Alliance, has worked
commitment is to integrate art in healing into with Dr. David Satcher, now retired
A one-day intensive pre-conference offered mainstream healthcare. We believe a conference Surgeon General, in her capacity as
two tracks: Caring for the Caregiver and Creat- of this significance can move our field forward Parish Nurse at National City Chris-
ing Successful Arts in Healthcare Programs. At in our culture for individual and collective heal- tian Church in Washington, D.C.,
the Arts presentation, the directors of arts pro- ing.” where both she and Dr. Satcher are
grams from the medical centers at Duke Univer- members. Dr. Satcher delivered the
sity, University of Washington, and University “State of the Nation’s Health Address”
of Michigan described the scope of their pro- I was impressed by the last March. Kathy coordinated that
grams, art collections, student arts projects, art- number of health organi- event and in her efforts to demonstrate
ists-in-residence programs, healing environments zations that have active the connection between faith and art
and performances at bedside and in public spaces. to healthcare, she led with a healing
arts programs in place.
The afternoon session featured directors from story told by Baba Jamal Koram and
other health systems with arts programs as well in the event featured many different or-
as groups that provide art and artists for them. The workshops and presenters offered in- ganizations involved with both faith
Most of the coordinators mentioned storytelling spiration and knowledge in many areas and were and healing and the arts and healing.
as part of their programs. too numerous to mention them all. Some of my As a result of the conversation
The keynote speakers were outstanding and favorites were Looking Death in the Eye: Car- begun in March, Dr. David Satcher has
provided different perspectives and inspiration. ing for Ourselves in Order to Care for Others, graciously accepted an invitation to
The one that most impacted me was Jean Watson, Rx Arts in Medicine: Guided Imagery, Living service on the Advisory Board of the
RN, PhD, who focused on art as a way of caring Well: Evoking the Inner Healer through Music International Storytelling Center. We
for others. She reminded everyone that our work and Writing, The Art of Wholeness in Medical all look forward to having Dr. Satcher
is sacred art when we tap into the spirit of Education, and Doctors in Action: Use of Mys- involved in the work of the healing art
another’s healing journey. She explained the pro- tical and Intuitive Tools. of storytelling.
found gift of understanding that when we care Many opportunities to interact and learn
for another (by sharing our art), we are dealing from others were available during the breaks and
with the inner journey of another soul. She chal- in the numerous receptions and wonderful
lenged, “Open your mind to the sacredness that evening entertainments. In addition, a network


Call for Proposals for the HSA Pre-NSN conference, July, 2003
The Healing Story Alliance is calling for proposals for presentations for the HSA Pre-NSN Conference on Tuesday evening July 8 and the
morning of Wednesday July 9. The purpose of this day is to present a variety of methods and approaches for using storytelling to support healing of
individuals, families, communities and the earth. The day will be divided into several segments including a Tuesday evening storytelling
forum, Wednesday morning workshops and, on Wednesday afternoon, focused learning groups to promote learning and community building.

Presenters will: Your proposal should include the following: Possible topics include:
• have 20 minutes on Tuesday evening to tell a
1. A description of the story that you will tell at 1. Inner peace/outer peace
story and to give a short reflection on why and
the evening forum. 2. The healing journey of the story experience
how they use the story in their work.
. itself
• give a 75 to 120 minute experiential and 2. A short description of your Wednesday 3. Working with life’s challenges—illness,
interactive workshop focused on the telling workshop and a brief outline. grief and loss
and working with story within healing on 4. Evoking story for healing and wellness
Wednesday morning. 3. Two references from people who are familiar 5. Prisons, internal and external—substance
• participate as group members on Wednesday with your healing work using story. abuse/prevention, detention centers, jails
afternoon in facilitated focused learning 6. Faith connections within ourselves, with
groups. The purpose of these groups is to help 4. A bio of your work with storytelling and “spirit”, with others of different faith traditions
conference attendees focus on significant healing, 100 words maximum. 7. Sexuality and identity combating homopho-
issues and approaches to using storytelling in bia in schools, culture, self
the healing arts. 5. One demo tape of a story. This is not 8. Healing the earth through story
• write a short article (500-750 words) for the required but will be helpful in the selection 9. Other related topics
HSA newsletter explaining your work and the
Presenters will receive : $325.00 stipend and
focus of your pre-conference presentation. The
Deadline: November 1, 2002. the Pre-Conference fee will be waived.
purpose of this article is to help promote this
exciting new preconference.

Send 5 copies of your proposals to: Meg Gilman, 272 Newcastle Ave., Portsmouth, New Hampshire 03801
If you have questions, additional details are on the HSA website or contact Meg Gilman at (603) 433-8578 or

Join the Healing Story Alliance!

We are excited about this Special Interest Group of the National Storytelling Network
and are eager to welcome you on board. Cut out the coupon below and send it in!

The Benefits of HSA Membership I would like to join the Healing Story Alliance!
Subscriptions to:
Please check one…
• Diving in the Moon: Honoring Story, Fa- o As an NSN member, I enclose my dues of $25.00 for one year (membership renewal is due at the
cilitating Healing - Annual HSA Journal
beginning of the calendar year).
• Healing Story – HSA Newsletter three times
o As a non-member of NSN, I enclose my dues of $35.00. (If you would like to become a member of
per year
NSN, see form below).
Internet Resources – HSA Website
I would also like to join the National Storytelling Network as a:
( o Standard Member (1 year/$50; 2 years/$90; 3 years/$120)
• The Forum – discussion of new stories
o Youth or Elder Member (1 year/$35; 2 years/$65; 3 years;$95)
• Articles
(Youth = under 18, Elder = over 65)
• Events Calendar
For additional categories and corresponding fees, see
• Bibliography
• Membership database
• Healing multicultural tales I enclose my payment as:
• Links to other Internet resources oCheck (please make check out to NSN/HSA)o Credit Card___ VISA ___ Mastercard
E-mail ListServ - an interactive discussion of ___ Discover ___ American Express
topics related to story and healing. Card Number ________________________ Expiration Date _____________
Membership Meetings Signature _______________________________________________________
• July NSN Conference Total Amount of check or charge $_______________
• October NSN Festival Name ___________________________________________________________
Discounted Attendance for HSA Pre- Address ___________________________________________________________
Conference Workshop at annual NSN City, State, Zip ____________________________________________________
Conference. Daytime Phone __________________ Email _________________________
Community Networking
• HSA members across the nation connect Please mail this form to :National Storytelling Network,101 Courthouse Square, Jonesborough, TN
with each other and tellers of like minds. 37659 or fax to (423) 753-9331 or call NSN at 1 800- 525-4514.


National Storytelling Network
101 Courthouse Square
Jonesborough, TN 37659

“T he stories people tell have a way of taking care of them.

If stories come to you, care for them. And learn to give them away
when they are needed. Sometimes a person needs a story more than
food to stay alive. That is why we put these stories in each other’s
memory. This is how people care for themselves.”
Barry Lopez
Badger’s comments in Crow and Weasel

Related Interests