Photo features left to right, Guerry McConnell, Beverly Harrison, Tom Hitchcock, Catherine Shealy, Wallace Shealy and Jules Corriere. (Not pictured are Pam Gosnell, Stephen Goodman, and Mary Noel)

From STAFF REPORTS

As the Jonesborough StoryTown Initiative gains momentum, having produced four plays and a radio show series, as well as collecting dozens of community stories, the new training program has been busy training StoryTown Brigade members in order to meet the demands of all the new programming.

This spring, a class of eight new story collectors met to learn best practices in story collecting. Their training included learning about the art of framing questions, the importance of active listening, and other interview techniques, as well as where to look for potential storytellers in their own community. Through class training and hands-on field experience, the group learned about conducting story circles and one-on-one interviews, and even touched briefly on indexing, archiving, and identifying keywords in collected stories.

The group was certified on May 28, and will now join the growing team of StoryTown Brigade members, who are contributing to the larger effort to collect stories from community members in Washington County and the region. These stories will be used in interpretive pieces, such as at the Chuckey Depot, as well as in creative pieces, such as the annual community plays at the McKinney Center and the Senior Center. The original stories and transcripts will be archived at the Heritage Alliance, and available to the public, as part of the StoryTown’s initativie to capture the stories of the rich culture and heritage of the region.

More importantly, the StoryTown Initiative is especially seeking stories to fill in the gaps of missing history, including stories from the African American community and from among local veterans.

During this training, led by the McKinney Center’s Jules Corriere, the class also had the experience of learning about the history of the storytelling movement by Jimmy Neil Smith, founder of the National Storytelling Festival. Smith provides valuable insight into the growing field of storytelling, and how it has helped the Town of Jonesborough prosper.

Members of this newly certified class are: Pam Gosnell, Stephen Goodman, Beverly Harrison, Tom Hitchcock, Mary Noel, Guerry McConnell, Catherine Shealy, and Wallace Shealy. They will soon be seen throughout the region, collecting stories for these important projects.

Those interested in joining the fall training, or in sharing a story should contact the McKinney Center at (423) 753-0562. The next training will take place beginning in August. There will also be a special class for Home School students in story collecting, also starting at the end of August, during the fall semester at the McKinney Center.