#76 - Place and Context In Creating Stories that Stand Out
The Power of Storytelling for Change
I was going to write about Purpose today. How to uncover your own. But, I attended a workshop this past weekend run by a teacher named Emi Aguilar, called Decolonizing Storytelling. I got to connect with other story tellers, explore the role of stories in decolonization, and reflect on the idea of self and place in the process. It was powerful stuff and I highly recommend it if you’re like me and committed to storytelling as a way of life.
Near the beginning of the workshop, Emi asked us to explore Native Land Digital and think about our place and relationship to land. This exercise captured me and took me to new places as a storyteller. Primarily because I ALWAYS, always start with context when developing a story or helping others develop their own. Usually personal context first and “place” is included in that. But I never considered “land” or “territory” or “ancestors” and the history bound up in those elements of context. It opened my eyes to new parts of my own story. I encourage you to consider it for your own stories or stories of other people you may help bring to life.
Place, is one of six elements I teach my clients and my students to help make a story stand out as uniquely your own. Whether you’re writing a brand story or personal story or a professional story, your context matters and I would say moving forward your relationship with land and territory and ancestors matter too when considering place in your story development.
I’d like to share with you one of the pieces of writing I created during the workshop from Emi’s prompts (you have to take the workshop if you’d like to access her amazing knowledge and prompts). It’s sort of a poem, but I don’t consider myself a poet so be kind please, this is me sharing part of my story with you which is always an act of bravery and vulnerability.
Story Reflection - A Poem
I stand upon the territories of the Mississaugas of the credit first nations, Anishinaabe, Wendake, and Haudenosaunee people, my ancestors brought here unwillingly.
Yet, this is home.
My people come from many places. Jamaica, the original territory of the Yamayka people; Ghana the territories of the Akan people.
Home is a complicated place in my heart and beneath my feet.
My people are travellers. We have lived many places. Called many places home.
When I think of land, I imagine love and support. Grounding.
When I think of water, I see depth and evolution. Movement
The earth knows me and knows my name. She knows our names.
I’d encourage you to think about where you are now, what lands you live on and have lived on, who was here before you, who are the stewards, and how does it all contribute to your story and your understanding of the world. How does place show up in your own stories?
The biggest takeaway that I wanted to share with you was actually a question Emi asked: How might storytelling undo colonization?
The answer felt so obvious by the end of the workshop. You know I feel very strongly about the power of stories to change the world. This question just reinforced for me the essential role of storytelling in all efforts to challenge harmful systems and learn from and grow beyond our histories. I’d like to ask you to consider the question above and your role as a storyteller in answering the call it speaks to.
“How might storytelling undo colonization?”
And remember, it can be joyful. Storytelling is an act of sharing and vulnerability, but it is also an act of play and discovery. Resistance can be beautiful and so can challenging systems of harm.
So yah, I got a lot out of this workshop and I hope the little of it that I’ve shared helps you consider your story and think about your place in new ways.
Emi also runs an Instagram page called @indigenizingartsed if you’re curious to learn more about her work.
And, don’t worry, I still intend to write about uncovering your Purpose in an upcoming post. It’s been on my mind a lot lately as I grow my business and really step into living my Purpose each day (it ain’t easy, but it’s beautiful, friend).
A Reminder (and an ask)
Ummmm, it happened. This morning actually. YOUR Big Story! is FINALLY open for enrolment. I really hope you’ll join me on this journey. It will be a guided, supported effort in a small online group setting (15 people, that’s it) to work to establish your expertise in the fundamentals of storytelling and bring a story to life with direct help from me. If it’s not for you right now, I’d love for you to share with someone who you think it may be for. Enrolment for the live session is only open for 12 days, after which access to live Q&A’s with me to get direct help with your story goes away. So whether you have a business story to shape, a career story to reshape, or personal story to bring to life, I’d love to work with you.