So it's almost Christmas time and you're kevetching because you haven't found the right gift yet. You want to give a gift that has meaning, that isn't consumed for the sake of consumption, that didn't harm the planet in the process of its creation. You want to feel good about where your money is going, and you want your gift to be remembered and treasured for all of time.
Then have I got a top ten list for you: the top ten ways to give the gift of story.
Why story? There's the logical: Stories are some of the most important ways we impact and formulate our belief systems and how we experience living in the world. We consume them all day consciously and unconsciously...so lets bring some good ones into your life. And then there's just the plain truth that artists are rad and our society benefits from their presence. Here are just a few favorites.
1) Get stories on CD (perfect for the long distance driver)
There are two many great storytellers to pick from, here are just a few:
Michael Meade (more for adults)
Mosaic Multicultural Foundation fosters cultural literacy, mythic education, and multicultural community development. Proceeds from sales of books and recordings directly benefit Mosaic's work with at-risk youth, refugees, and intercultural projects.
Michael Katz (for the young and young at heart)
Michael tells stories that weave together both the comic and the profound using his own highly energetic, animated and interactive style of storytelling. Michael's stories include multicultural folktales, myths, original stories and personal narratives. His stories are fun with a capital F.
Kim Weitkamp (sings her stories to you)
Kim's award winning albums are filled with songs and stories. Her stories are geared towards adults, but safe for kids! Topics range from eerie stories to love stories (and she has a great sampling of stories available for free on her website).
2) Have a story written just for you: Medicine Stories are designed to speak to the soul and heal the heart and include archetypes, symbols and just the right amount irreverence and humor to thrill you (you guessed right, this is blatant self promotion).
3) Get Your Mythic Story Carved into a Spirit Bowl
Artist Heide Hampe Carter carves gourdes with the mythic images and symbols that are active in your life. It is a treasure to behold one of these extraordinary objects (ok, so you'll have to deliver a certificate saying "coming soon" under the Christmas Tree since theses take some time to design).
Learn How to Tell a Tall Tale
4) Attend Martin Shaw's School of Myth
When Robert Bly says, "There is fox fur and woodsmoke in his thinking. A kind of outlaw language" why should have to describe what he does? This much I'll say: Martin's storytelling is pure magic and he teaches a year-long program at the Westcountry School of Myth and Story, at Dartmoor in the United Kingdom. Can't go to England? Get his book, A Branch from the Lightning Tree: Ecstatic Myth and the Grace of Wildness.
5) Learn how to Create a Digital Story:
Take a workshop at the Center for Digital Storytelling Center (they offer classes around the country). How often do you have the opportunity to reflect and create something meaningful in your adult life? All you need are some photographs and a story, and they'll teach you how to craft an amazing video that you can take home with you.
Gifts for your co-worker:
6) Storytelling training for leaders:
WakingStar StoryWorks does 1:1 coaching for executive director types and are offering a workshop for Bay Area residents starting in January. Through a series of one to two hour sessions, they help you understand how stories work, how to find them, and how to bring them to life. The end result may be talking points for a keynote, a crafted personal story, or a refined menu of stories you love to tell.
7) Storytelling for organizations:
OK, so this is an odd gift, but may be the perfect gift for an executive director of an organization dedicated to social change. The Center for Story-based Strategy (CSS) is a national movement-building organization dedicated to harnessing the power of narrative for social change. They offer social justice networks, alliances and organizations the analysis, training and strategic support to change the story on the issues that matter most. Through collaboration consulting, and direct partnership they've supported over 200 innovative social change organizations to win critical campaigns.
Get a Gift that Keeps on Giving -- Subscribe to a monthly series:
8) Support Your Local Theater!
Keep story alive by getting season tickets! Talk about the gift that keeps on giving...
9) Have a Story Mailed to You Every Month
Love Stories, Archetypal Stories, Luck of the draw:
They're all available on my website. (scroll down to the bottom of the page) A three month & six month story subscription gets you a beautifully wrapped and presented story mailed to your home once a month. (More blatant self promotion. I got this idea from another storyteller, but then really got into the presentation of sending stories as gifts in the mail. When I was but a wee little thing my parents gave me a 12 month subscription to value stories. Each month a new story arrived in the mail and it was pure delight. I hope these stories will delight as well.
10) You have a story to tell: Tell it! A few years ago I asked my mom to make me a recipe book. Instead she made me a book filled with images of her paintings and a whole slew of family stories I hadn't ever heard before. It was on the favorite gifts I have ever received. This is fun and via Blurb or Apple books have made it easy to do.
11) Make A Video New Years Letter: Singer/Songwriter Amy MacClain must have had her fill of the Christmas letter, so created a How to Make a VIDEO new year's Letter. #pureawesome
12) Make a Story Box:
This is a perfect gift for the person who has more ideas than can fill a page.
I went over 10, and I didn't get to mention a subscription to some rad podcasts such as Radio Lab, Carolyn Casey, This American Life. I didn't talk about funding a film in someone one's honor such as picking and producing the story you believe will impact the protection of our planet (you can check out kickstarter, indie gogo or rockethub if you're wanting some inspiration...).
Oh right! And you can go to your local bookstore and buy a book!
Here's to finding, learning, loving, and telling some great new stories in 2014!