New storytelling partnership for peace

Sue Guinn Legg • Oct 1, 2013 at 9:49 AM

The International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough has entered a creative new partnership with the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation that invites storytellers of all ilks to use their art to promote world peace.

The collaboration was negotiated by the ISC’s new Executive Director Kiran Sirah, who as a guest writer for the Tutu foundation, last year developed an online storytelling toolkit for the foundation titled “Telling Stories that Matter.”

The new partnership invites students, teachers, journalists, storytellers and guests at this weekend’s International Storytelling Festival and all others to use the online toolkit, if needed, to answer the following question:

“How might the art of storytelling contribute to global peace and collaboration in a troubled world?”

Answers are “something that we hope to be expanding on and developing further throughout this year,” Sirah said.

They may include comments, quotes or stories presented in any written, spoken, photographic, video or digital media “as short or as long as needed” to illustrate how storytelling can be used to create a more peaceful world. Stories and other responses should be submitted by email to Rebecca Popham, managing editor for the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation, at rebecca.popham@tutufoundationusa.org.

“All voices, festival participants, schools (and) young people especially,” are invited to participate, Sirah said. “Everyone should have the chance to write, tell or perform stories in the new and popular social (media).”

Sample stories and more about the project may be found by clicking on the Telling Stories that Matter link available at the foundation website www.tutufoundationusa.org.

The samples include Sirah’s own story of abolitionist’s Frederick Douglas’ 1860 visit to his hometown of Glasgow. Scotland, how he came to meet Douglas’ great-great-great-granddaughter Melanie Douglas, and a series of stories he gathered by candlelight in communities darkened by last year’s Superstorm Sandy.

Broadly, he said, submissions may include “how human stories support local community, peace development, friendship, equality, cultural diversity, identity, belonging, a sense of place and more.” Students, educators, community arts programs, artists and others interested in accessing resources for collecting, writing, performing, poems, stories, creative nonfiction, drama and pictorials are invited to download the free Telling Stories That Matter toolkit available at the website.

“Should any local schools, young writers visiting the festival this year be interested in submitting collective or individual stories in response to their visit to the festival this year, that would be especially welcome,” Sirah said. “Schools not participating in the festival this year are (also) very welcome to submit stories and participate in the project.”

It’s an invitation from the International Storytelling Center “to raise your voice for peace an collaboration,” Sirah said.

For more information, visit tutufoundationusa.org or call Sirah at 913-8210.

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