P apa J oe's T.S.S presents:
( Papa Joe's Travelling Storytelling Show)
Papa Joe ~ Stuff & Things
What Storytelling Means to Me
Community, Communication, Investment
A long time ago, when I was a child, my family would climb up into the old school bus my father had rebuilt into our travelling home. It was big and light blue and every one called it "Baby Blue". There were twelve bunks, one for each of us, and we'd live in it as my parents took us to our favorite campsites far away.
When ever we pulled into one of those spots, we could hear the children calling out, "Oh! The Gaudets are here! Let's play!" And soon thirty or so children would be at our site. We'd play folk games; Old Witchy, A Whip for my Children, and Big Bad Wolf. A quick break for supper and off again. Good times and free play until it started getting dark. My father would build up the campfire and folks from all over the campground would gather at our site. As we settled down, my mother would begin, "Once upon a time..."
Sometimes, others would take a turn sharing a story. Then the tales would go on and on and I'd wake to find myself in my bunk, with sunrise lighting up the world again, ready for another day's adventure. It didn't matter where we went. By the second visit, everyone knew us, everyone welcomed us. As a child, it always seemed normal. Even at home, our yard was filled with neighborhood children. What I remember most is always feeling safe - always knowing everyone around was a friend.
As I grew older and started travelling without my parents, I began to see many places where there was no sense of safety, no feeling of sharing. It took me a long time to see what made the difference. I was years into a career as a storyteller when I began to understand the answer. It was the sharing of stories that did the trick. Folks telling tales and folks listening to those tales which led to the intimacy that created community.
It doesn't matter what kind of story is told. It doesn't matter where. In a playground telling fairy tales, in a bar telling jokes, around a campfire with ghost stories. As the sharing is accepted, a community is strengthened. A storyteller opens their heart to the listeners. The listeners open their hearts to the teller and each other. This is the investment to community. A giving of one's self to the group. In telling and in listening, we learn to communicate - we learn to share and to understand each other.
Next time you go to a new place, or even an old place. Watch and listen to the folks around you. Can you see the sharing? Can you feel the security? Can you measure the investment the folks are making to build a community within that place? If you can, then you'll also hear, someone, somewhere telling a story.
Papa Joe ~ Stuff & Things
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