BLOG: BEGIN!

IMG_4339BEGIN!   July 3, 2014

I don’t know quite where to begin, but I have been wanting to start a blog for many years now, but I don’t know where to begin. But I have been wanting to …

I teach a college course on the nature of creativity and use choreographer, Twyla Tharpe’s book The Creative Habit as a primary text. She offers wisdom for those of us who can’t quite start the big project we’ve been dreaming about because we are overwhelmed by the sheer size of the task and can’t find a way in. To us, Tharpe says:

                                 “BEGIN!”

Simply begin somewhere, anywhere. It doesn’t matter where. It doesn’t need to be at the beginning of the story. Just start and eventually you will carve pathways that lead you forward. I’m not sure about so many things: how often I will write, if there will be a consistent theme, topic or format… And so, even still, I begin. I imagine that the shape of this offering will form itself as I continue to write.

Years ago, before the ferocious Midwestern storms took down so many of our trees in our ½ acre back yard, Fall leaf raking was an arduous task. I have this memory of standing in the middle of our yard, buried practically up to my knees in crimson, gold, and fire orange leaves, leaning on my rake and moaning at the magnitude of the task in front of me. Where would I even begin?!!  I decided that I would just start raking – right there in the middle of the yard. You have to start somewhere.

Is there a project that has been scratching at your soul? The thing you never have enough time to do? Well…

BEGIN…

and the path will present itself

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Radio Story aired Friday, 7:30am during Morning Edition on WMUK radio!

Friday, April 11th, 7:30am –  WMUK (NPR, 102.1 FM, www.wmuk.org) aired our 2nd radio documentary story in our series about LGBT identity and acceptance during Morning Edition.  We rushed to get it done to line up with the Day of Silence, an annual day of action to protest the bullying and harassment of lesbiangaybisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students and supporters.. The piece, “One Day in Michigan” is a collage of experiences from newly married gay couples and their allies at the Washtenaw County Courthouse on Sat. March 22nd. The piece celebrates the day, the community, and the experience created as a result. Listen to the piece here!

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Allison selected to perform at The National Storytelling Festival StorySlam October 5th!!

So, 3 years ago this weekend I landed in Jonesborough, Tennessee to immerse myself in the world of storytelling. I spent days sitting mesmerized by masterful tellers. This year I entered the National Storytelling Festival’s 2nd Annual StorySLAM competition by submitting a 2 minute overview of what would have to be a 5 minute story. A committee of judges selected 7 storytellers from all the submissions received between January and August.  I am so honored to be one of 7 storytellers to perform this Saturday. From what I hear there will be upwards of 1,000 people there to listen. I don’t expect to win -(wish me luck anyway, though). Even if my story is good,  I’m telling a sad story, and in my experience, sad stories rarely if ever win slams.  But, I AM aiming to do my very best to authentically share a meaningful story with good people. And, I’m just thrilled to be selected.

I also can’t wait to listen to the other tellers, the slam storytellers, yes, but also the master tellers I love ( Kim Weitkamp, Syd Lieberman, Milbre Burch, Bil Lepp) and the ones I’ve been eager to hear for the first time (Antonio Rocha, Rev. Robert Jones, Minton Sparks, David Novak….)

Off to Story Land!!!

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“The Living Room” Radio Series August & September episodes air this week!

Lake Michigan, August 2013Listen to the PODCAST of the August episode of The Living Room Storytelling Radio series on Michigan Radio. It aired Thursday, August 29th on Michigan Radio‘s daily news show Stateside with Cynthia Canty. This episode features a whimsical end of summer story by my friend, Michigan storyteller and artist, Karen Czarnik.  Karen recounts a memorable road trip she took with her kids to Northern Michigan where they invoked the family tradition of swimming in every new body of water. Downey curated this piece and co-produced it with independent media producer, Zak Rosen.

If you listen, please feel free to post your comments on their website or email michigan.radio@umich.edu.

The September episode of The Living Room airs Thursday, September 5th, 3-4pm EST; 10-11pm EST on Michigan Radio‘s daily news show Stateside with Cynthia CantyAiring on the first day of school for many, this episode is dedicated to education. The piece begins with a collage of voices from interviews I conducted with Kalamazoo pre-school and elementary school students the last week of classes this past June. The rest of the episode features a story by Living Room producer Zak Rosen about The James and Grace Lee Boggs School (named after the nationally known authors and activists) that opens in Detroit this week.

Listen on your radio: 91.7 FM /Ann Arbor/ Detroit; 91.1 FM Flint; 104.1 West Michigan; stream live at www.michiganradio.orgListen to the podcast on the Stateside webpage (http://michiganradio.org/programs/stateside-cynthia-canty) for it the next day, or check back here to my website and the new episodes will be posted after they air.

Hope you enjoy!

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