Thank you!!!

Thanks to everyone who came out last Thursday and made our first online show such a great success. We had 82 people and a horse show up! I was blown away by the number of people who RSVP’d (98 total). More big thanks to the tellers who put up with all my questions and worries the week before the show: Megan, Chris, Melissa, Maryanne, and Susan. Extra special gratitude to Kris, my friend and assistant, who took care of the technical side of the show that night. She had to run home from a full day’s work to get online in time to manage the waiting and chat rooms.

If you weren’t able to make it, you missed some amazing stories. Megan showed us what it’s like to be married to someone who always wants to win (since she’s the one who wants to win we might have to get her husband to tell a story one day). Chris told a beautiful story about trying to save snails and slugs and what it means to label something a pest. I love small stories that have a big message. You can’t get much smaller than a snail but the idea of labeling certain things (and people) as pests is something we should all think about.

Melissa’s story about walking through Costco in the first days of the shutdown was another small journey that ended up in a bigger place. She went from worrying about everyone knowing she dyed her hair to who cares if everyone knows she dyes her hair. That sounds like a small step but when it happens to you it’s actually quite a leap. It’s a leap from thinking only about yourself to thinking about everyone else and what you can do to help them. I can’t think of a better way to share that message than through a story.

Maryanne’s story was one of her epic masterpieces. I can’t begin to describe it but I can tell you it began in 1918 with her grandmother’s best friend and family servant Loulee helping soldiers who came back from the war with a mysterious cough. it ended with Maryanne cooking collards in her kitchen last week. It was a story about how far we’ve come and how far we haven’t come. it was about friendship, race, sickness, and the things we tell ourselves to keep from acknowledging the things we want to keep hidden.

Susan was our closing teller and I couldn’t have asked for a better story to leave us all with. It was about how she’s had to embrace virtual therapy sessions with her clients. In a way, I was living her story as she told it. Like Susan, I was also leery of being able to connect with people through online video. By the end of her story, Susan realized how much deeper her connections were getting by being able to see people in their homes. By the end of our show, I realized that this medium is more powerful than I thought it was. And while it can’t take the place of seeing people tell stories in person, it can give us what we need until we can all meet up again.

Our next show will be June 18. We’ll finally get to the theme that I scheduled back in March. Drowning – Stories of being overwhelmed or in over your head.“ It’s going to be our regular open mic format with a few changes to make it run smoother online. The show description is online here: https://www.meetup.com/Fresh-Ground-Stories/events/269028756/

Click on the RSVP button so Meetup can send you reminders but that button alone won’t get you the Zoom link and password. If you want to actually attend the Zoom show, send me an email between June 14-18. If you want to tell a story, let me know in that email and I’ll put your name in Mr. Coffee.

The reason I’m asking you to email me a few days before the show is that it’s easy to change plans if you RSVP a month ahead of time. We only have 100 spaces for each show and I want to make sure everyone who RSVP’s actually attends. We had 98 RSVPs for the last show and 82 logged in. Kris and I can’t monitor emails once the show begins so please let me know as soon as possible if you emailed me an RSVP but can’t attend the show. That way I can give your spot to someone else.

The only other change I’d like to make is to strongly suggest that first-time tellers attend one of the free workshops available below. They’re only an hour or an hour-and-a-half but are a great way to get feedback on your story. Two of the stories we heard on Thursday came directly from Bill’s workshop.

Stay Awesome storytelling workshop with Bill Bernat
https://www.facebook.com/events/83854953662687 

FGS Monthly workshop (with two long-time FGS tellers)
https://www.meetup.com/Fresh-Ground-Stories-Storytelling-Workshop/

I’ve been to both workshops and can personally vouch for how helpful they are. All you need to bring is a story you’re working on. 

I hope to see a bunch of you next month on 18th. Usually I give everyone who tells a story at GS a copy of their story if they want it. I won’t be doing any recording of our Zoom shows because my computer system doesn’t support that function. I’m sure our first open mic will have a few kinks we need to work out so thanks in advance for your patience.

Feel free to email me if you have any questions. Please join the Meetup group if you want to make sure you get my monthly invites and wrap-ups 

https://www.meetup.com/Fresh-Ground-Stories/

See you in June!

Paul
freshgroundstories@gmail.com

FGS is coming at you this Thursday :)

Power up your laptops, we’re doing our first online show this Thursday at 7pm!

This first event will have six amazing tellers who have told with us before. Next month we’ll start back with our regular open mic where we’ll finally get to the theme we originally scheduled back in March 🙂

I love each of the stories you’ll hear this night so I hope you’ll join us. If you’re lucky, you might even hear me curse as few times when I can’t figure out how to unmute someone. I fully expect to break my 10-year streak of clean performances at some point during this show. If you enjoy seeing someone flustered from switching between gallery view and speaker view this is the show for you.

Seriously, though, these stories are beautiful. You’re going to love them. 

Because there are some goofballs out there who enjoy interrupting Zoom shows, I’m taking precautions to make sure that doesn’t happen. Since my Zoom account only allows 100 people on each call, the first 100 people to RSVP to me via email at freshgroundstories@gmail.com will get in. 

Please include in your email your name or the name you’ll log into the call with. Thursday afternoon I’ll send everyone who emailed me the Zoom link and password. PLEASE DO NOT SHARE OR POST THE LINK OR PASSWORD ONLINE. I hate having to do this but enough Zoom facilitators have told me this is how the goofballs get in. 

My wonderful assistant Kris will be the velvet rope for the show. She’ll be the one who lets people into the show from the virtual waiting room. If she doesn’t recognize your name then you might not get in. So make sure the name you send me in your email is the one you use to log in.

I miss seeing all of you, even the ones who have come for years and never told a story. I’m going to keep doing this online show until we can all meet again for handshakes, hugs, and stories. I hope to see a bunch of you this Thursday in Zoomland 🙂

Paul
freshgroundstories@gmail.com

We’re going to do a show!

Hi Everyone,

I’m going to try to do an FGS Zoom show on our regularly scheduled day of May 21. Since I’ve never hosted an online show I’m going to start by doing an hour-long showcase of some of our regular tellers. It’ll be 7-8 folks telling stories I’ve requested. If all goes well, I’ll try to do a regular open mic FGS show on the third Thursday in June. Of course, if the CDC lets us out of the house before then we’ll have our regular live show 🙂

FGS will survive! 

In the meantime, I want to tell you about Podapalooza this weekend and two great free story workshops coming up. 

Workshops:

One of Seattle’s best storytellers, Bill Bernat, is holding an online workshop Monday, April 27, for anyone with a 5-minute story they’d like help with.

https://www.meetup.com/Stay-Awesome-Storytelling-Virtual-Workshop/events/zjtsrrybcgbkc/

Our regular monthly FGS workshop (now online) is happening Sunday, May 3
https://www.meetup.com/Fresh-Ground-Stories-Storytelling-Workshop/events/270206596/

The organizer of Podapalooza reached out to me a few days ago and asked if I’d let the FGS folks know about it. Tickets are pay-what-you-can. 100% of the proceeds go to GiveDirectly (https://www.givedirectly.org/), a non-profit delivering $1000 cash payments to families struggling amid COVID.

Below is info taken directly from his email:

Podapalooza (https://podapalooza.org) is a virtual podcast festival to benefit COVID-19 relief. One of the events on the schedule is a Saturday Night Story Slam, a live stream of seven storytellers worth seeing:

Dessa (https://twitter.com/dessadarling): a hip hop artist and the first person ever to have the distinction of both performing at Podapalooza and Lollapalooza.

Olga Khazan (https://twitter.com/olgakhazan): just released a book about being WEIRD

Maria Konnikova (https://twitter.com/mkonnikova): New Yorker writer turned professional poker player

Shannon Cason (https://twitter.com/shannoncason): Moth GrandSlam Champion

Gulnaz Khan (https://www.nationalgeographic.com/contributors/k/gulnaz-khan/): Nat Geo writer who used to document violence against women for Human Rights Watch

Jude Brewer (https://twitter.com/judebrewery): named the best storyteller in Portland

Juleyka Lantigua Williams (https://twitter.com/JuleykaLantigua): Founder of Lantigua Williams & Co, the podcast production studio  

The story slam is this Saturday, April 25 at 8pm ET.

To attend, go to the Podapalooza website (https://podapalooza.org) and purchase a ticket to the festival. 

On the day of the event, you will receive a link to the live stream.

https://www.podapalooza.org/live
https://www.givedirectly.org/

That’s all I have for now. I hope to see a bunch of your smiling faces online May 21! Not only will you hear some great stories, you’ll get to see me flail around trying to figure out how to unmute myself and get confused over who’s talking. Exciting, yes? I’ll also have a special, secret guest helping me run the show from California. Without her, FGS wouldn’t exist but almost none of you have ever met her. I think it’s time to reveal the rarely told FGS origin story. 

Take care. Wash your paws, Write a letter to someone you love.

See you soon!

Paul
freshgroundstories@gmail.com

 

Online shows and more

Hi All,

A number of people have asked if I’m going to do an online FGS show while we’re all stuck at home. I’ll probably do some sort of online FGS show in May. I’m in the middle of moving right now so I don’t have the time to do anything like that this month. 

Because I’ve never run a live Zoom show, I’ll more than likely just ask a few people to tell one of their favorite stories and see how that goes. I attended a few online shows recently and I can tell just by watching that MC’ing an online show is much different than hosting in person. So I’ll probably start out by doing a couple of curated shows and see how things go from there.

In the meantime, if you want to tell a story yourself online I know of two shows where you might be able to do that. Both producers are looking for tellers. Contact them through their Facebook pages for more info.

Iridescent Robot Storytelling Club
https://www.facebook.com/groups/500915187244804/

COVID Stories Quarantine Connection
https://www.facebook.com/SeattleCOVIDStorytelling//

I’ll leave you with a story and a TED talk.

This a story I just found tonight. It’s a sweet and funny story about a KitKat bar.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvyPn0FFPio

This is a TED talk from Matthew Dicks about how he comes up with so many ideas for stories  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x7p329Z8MD0

Take care of yourselves. Keep writing. Keep talking. Keep noticing.
Stay out of your head as much as you can. 

Love,

Paul

 

 

 

 

 

 

Online shows and other goodness

Hi All,

I hope everyone is doing ok. I know we hear that a lot these days but it still feels important to say. There are links to some online story shows at the end of this email but I want to say something first before you get to those.

For the past month, I’ve been trying to figure out a way to help all of us stay connected. Fresh Ground Stories has been around for 10 years now and my biggest fear is that many of you will drift away before we can start doing live shows again. We’ve built such an amazing community of tellers (and listeners) that it would be a shame for it to fade away. I know when this is over I’m going to need this show more than ever. It’s a powerful thing to sit ten feet from a stranger telling a personal story they’ve probably never shared with anyone. I can’t wait to get back to that.

But since that’s not possible right now, I’m trying to come up with ways to keep us connected while we’re apart. This month, I’m passing along something that was inspired by a podcast I listened to this week. The host read a long list of all the things people sent in that they loved. They weren’t obvious things like their kids or chocolate. They were the little things that made people smile during the day. A few days ago I made my own list, uploaded it to Google Docs, sent it out to a handful of friends, and asked them to add to it. Not only did I love what my friends added, I loved that it helped me get to know them better. Even though all the entries were anonymous, I somehow felt closer to everyone I sent that link to.

So I decided I would share this idea with all of you. I thought about putting my list online so everyone could add to it but I was worried that someone would add something snarky or sarcastic and that would sadden me. It only takes one comment like that for me to close the screen and not return and I don’t want that to happen to this. So what I’m going to do is paste below the asterisks the text of the document I sent to my friends to show you what I’m talking about and let you do with it what you will. You can copy and paste it into your own Google Doc and share it with friends or you can just take the idea and start your own list from scratch. I hope you get as much joy out of it as I do as I check the document for new entries once or twice a day.

*************************************************************************************

In times like this, it’s important to remind ourselves that there are still many things to love in this world. Recently, I’ve realized that most of what keeps me going are the little moments of unexpected joy that I never tell anyone about. 

So here is a list of things we love, especially the quirky unique-just-to-us things. The first few are mine (I took out the ones my friends entered because I didn’t have their permission to share publically)  Now I’d like to share this with everyone so you all can add some of the surprising moments that you love in your everyday life. This is a chance to leave something sweet on each other’s doorstep. Even if you don’t have anything to add, it’s nice to see what’s helping the people around you keep going.

Enter as many as you want and come back as often as you like.
_____________________________________________________

I love it when a cat I’ve never seen before walks up and jumps into my lap

I love it when I water a plant I’m worried might be dead and within a few minutes it pops up looking perfectly healthy

I love it when I pull into my driveway but don’t want to get out of the car because I don’t want to stop listening to what’s on the radio

I love finding something I wrote 20 years ago and discovering it’s still good

I love sitting by my living room window at night and watching trees swaying in the wind. It makes me feel like I’m in a black-and-white photo.

I love when I click on a story and it tells me I have more free articles left than I thought.

I love when a coworker leaves a treat on my desk and it’s exactly what I want.

I love when I parallel park on the first try. It’s the only time I ever truly want to high five someone.

I love the way air feels in a greenhouse. 

I love watching the last person in the Iron Man Triathlon struggle across the finish line long after everyone else has finished and gone home. It reminds me that I’m not the only person who struggles with things others find easy.

I love when I walk up to a couple of friends and they say, “We were  just talking about you.”

I love when I see a stranger do something courageous. It gives me hope for this screwed-up world.
*************************************************************************************

And now, on to the list of online story shows that are popping up 🙂

I don’t have any more info than what I’m posting here so if you have any questions, contact the people listed on the Facebook or Meetup pages.

Bill Bernat is hosting two online shows of COVID-19 stories this week and next. He’s looking for volunteers as well as people to tell stories. See the Facebook page for more details. If you need more info, email him at bill@hellobill.org.

COVID Stories Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/SeattleCOVIDStorytelling

The first show is April 4 at 7 pm. The second is April 11.

https://www.facebook.com/events/652428835541991/?event_time_id=652428838875324

A link to the show stream will be added to that Facebook page before showtime

The Iridescent Robot Storytelling Club has an online storytelling show every Thursday at 5 pm. It’s hosted by Danielle, a former FGS teller who now lives in Canada. She produced many wonderful story shows when she lived in Seattle and I’m sure her weekly Zoom shows will be great too.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/500915187244804/

North Seattle Storytelling meetup is experimenting with their first online show on April 9. Click on this link for more info.

https://www.meetup.com/North-Seattle-Storytelling-Meetup/events/269732867/

Lastly, as a little reward for reading this far, here is a link to last Saturday’s Sound Effect podcast. (it airs every Saturday at 10 am on KNKX 88.5). It features two tellers from FGS. I was having a rough morning the day this aired. Listening to Susan and Maryanne’s voices coming out of the radio was just what I needed.

https://www.knkx.org/post/alone-together-sound-effect-episode-171-0

Ok, that’s all I have for now. Sorry about the thousand-word email. Then again, maybe it was time for you to take a break from Tiger King.

Take care. Tell someone you love them. Wash your paws.

Paul