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Planning Our Story Slam!

Anne Dalke's picture

Attached find the notes I took during the two workshopping sessions we held with Dorceta Taylor on Wednesday, March 5th. What I'm pulling from them--all of course subject to revision by you all--is a consensus that we want to host a story slam, focused on the question of "What is Home?" (or: "Where do you feel @ home? Where do you feel exiled? Both on and off campus?"). We want to create a scaffolding for these stories, a way of attending to the reverberations among them (will we offer note cards, and/or sheets of paper on the wall, to encourage silent discussion both during and between the storytelling?).  We also agreed that we do not want this to be a "one-and-done" deal, but that we want to arrange for some follow-up for what emerges, perhaps in the form of a survey with some key "indicator questions," perhaps in pairs or small groups with a focus on particular topics.

 Our learning objectives include
* inviting a rich conversation among people who might ordinarily not get together,
* helping them find connections among one another,
* encouraging them to "be attentive  to the "ecology" of Bryn Mawr (including its social dimensions),
* forging/facilitating/foregrounding the connections that make up our eco-system
* expanding their sense of "what is environmental," by "re-framing" the term and their experience of it,
* reflecting on who-and-what is not in our shared space.
* (are we also interested in the particular question of the relation between environmental activism and the environmental studies minor  on campus?)

We began to brain storm decisions we need to make, and also what
small working groups might be needed to make this happen
: we have to
* select a date and reserve a space
* advertise the event (this is huge, and will need a "mistress" who can delegate portions of this to us all)
* prepare the space (arranging the room --and food, of course)
* organize and script the event, and m.c. it
* record and archive it
* be in charge of follow-up (as advertising, above: something to be shared among us, but requiring a "director").

I also pulled out three major concerns:
* How will we broaden the appeal of this event, reaching out to various clubs, affinity groups, international students, those who *may think* that they don't share environmental concerns? Will each of us invite 2-3 people who don't look-or-think like us? Who differ from us in some way?

* What role might your art work, and Ava's, and/or some collective creative piece, play in this event-- inviting people into it, creating an environment for it, sending them on their way? (Do we want to exhibit our own work as a way of making the space inviting and "home-like"? invite Photo Voice submissions, or videos prepared ahead of time?)

* How can we make this event not so  "individual-centric"
("an occasion for interrogating larger social structures and processes").
How might we also make it less "human-centric"
("where is eco-literacy in this plan? what role does/will environment play in what emerges?")

Over break, please read through these notes and/or your own,
reflect on them, and then post here before 5 p.m. Sunday night, March 16
* any further thoughts about the general plan (goals, shape of the whole)
* suggested date and time of day
* volunteer for the work you want to do (including identifying any additional sub-
committees you think we need to make this happen).
I"ve created three threads below for each of these sub-headings; please "reply" to each
individually, so the answers will have @ least a semblance of organization!

We'll pick up this discussion in person in Jody's class on Monday afternoon, March 17--
and, if need be, continue it in Anne's right after.

Notes from Dorceta Taylor’s visit .docx136 KB


pbernal's picture

I'd like to work with the Out

I'd like to work with the Out reach committee. I also agree that we should meet one more time to break up into our designated groups and come together with an ideal date and possible itineary. I think it would work best if we met outside of class time so that we do not take away time away that we've missed due to the crazy sicknesses and winter bearing gifts. I understand that we all have tight schedules, which is why I think conducting a doodle poll would work best to schedule a meeting time that would work best for all of us. 

Anne Dalke's picture

further thoughts....

about the general plan (goals, shape of the whole)?

Sophia Weinstein's picture

A More Organized Place to Plan

I think it would be really helpful to have a better place/way to post that has a format that is friendlier to what we are doing? It is a bit difficult to go through all of the posts so far, and see who is responding to whom, and in what order at what time. There seems to be a lack of organization with this format, considering how many posts and replies there will be. It's a lot to get through, and I think something as simple as a google doc could help?

Lisa Marie's picture

Story Slam Planning!

I think all of the ideas and suggestions brought up so far sound great. aphorisnt--thank you for coming up with working group ideas, that seems like a great breakdown of responsibilities! I'm interested in helping to set up for the event, so I volunteer to be in the programming group. Unfortunately, I'll be in NJ on April 18--it's Easter weekend and it's an annual tradition for me to stay with my friend's family then. I imagine other people on campus might be going home that weekend too. What about April 11 or 25? Fridays seem to be a good day to hold the event, and like Kelsey mentioned, I think it'd be good to hold it around 7 or 8 PM. 

Kelsey's picture

I really like our plan for

I really like our plan for the event so far, in terms of having a story slam where participants can share their experiences in the framework of some larger structure/ series of prompts we create to invite exploration of topics related to ecoliteracy.  I definitely think that we should have paper on the walls with different topic headings, where people can have silent discussions at any point throughout the event.

Since I am especially concerned about having the event go beyond telling individual stories to exploring larger social/ ecological ideas, I think that we need to think a lot about how we are going to structure the event and story prompts to make that happen.  Perhaps we could think of our goal as challenging participants to rethink their ideas of environment, as we have been doing, going beyond the traditional definition of nature to include complex ecological and social processes.  The format we've been using in our classes, of starting with our own experiences and gradually expanding our focus, makes a lot of sense to me, but how can we do that in a 2 hour or so event?  Perhaps we can have small group discussions after the story sharing where we ask these kinds of questions?  Perhaps we can ask these kinds of questions in the silent discussion?  Perhaps we can have prompts for stories that gradually expand beyond individual experiences and challenge storytellers to reflect on how their experiences fit into larger social/ ecological processes?  I think there are definitely many ways we can do this, and we should all think more specifically about how we want to structure this event.  

Anne Dalke's picture

"if you needed to hide, where would you go?"

As I mentioned in class last Wednesday, Jody and I had occasion to speak last week with Catharine Slusar, who is working with a theater class of Mawrtyrs, and some of the 8th graders @ E.M. Stanton Elementary School, to put on a production of Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream. Find here find two lesson plans she used to get their collaboration going. I think they are just inspired. They suggest that "home" may find its place in "exile," "exile" in home--the two invite one another (maybe you can't lose something unless you have it first...? and once you have it, you can't help but worry about losing it...?)

Anne Dalke's picture

"places are processes"

As part of my "other" life (there's eco-literacy, and then there's teaching in prison), I've fallen deep into the rabbit hole of Rena Fraden's Imagining Medea: Rhodessa Jones and Theater for Incarcerated Women. Fraden said something that I thought might be relevant for our work, as we think about how to make our story slam "ecological":

Critics have become suspicious about the use of … “community” for radical politics, since…the concept depends upon distinguishing between members and non-members, inside and outside, “another way of constructing a counterposition between ‘us’ and ‘them’”…places can be conceptualized in terms of the social interactions which they tie together…these interactions themselves are not motionless…They are processes. One of the great one-liners in Marxist exchanges has for long been, ‘Ah, but capital is not a thing, it’s a process.’ Perhaps this should be said also about places; that places are processes, too” ( p. 23).

Student 24's picture

Sounds and Spaces and Speakers (and Sibilance? Sure.)

I really like this excerpt you've quoted, and I think it resonates with my second porosity posting!

And speaking of resonance and processes that occur in spaces -

So, the event will be in a shared space. A room. It might be large, or it might be small and intimate - and two kinds of resonances will occur. The first will be the actual sound of speaking actually filling up the room, and the second will be the resonance that occurs in the shared space that is the process of interaction between people. This process is the speaking and the listening/receiving by the individual member of the audience.

And this is an idea I had, in relation to how we can make this event less centered on the individual person/ personal stories and statements, and more about reminding us of the whole we're-all-in-this-together idea.

This can go a number of ways, but basically, I think it'd be really cool (forgive me for the uninteresting adjectives, but at this point I'm not really going for colourful language) if the audience could not see the speaker. Again, this could happen a number of ways. The speaker and audience could be facing opposite directions; everyone could have their eyes closed including the speaker; different things. But basically this will take away the attention given to the individual and observing them as a speaker or performer, and instead it will immerse both audience and speaker (because the speaker can hear their self too) in the sound of the voice and the words. The sound will be more of a blanket, or an ocean, or whatever image, and it will surround us all, rather than be emitted from a particular center point.

Maybe not everyone will have that experience, because it will depend on how a person's brain works - if it's more attentive to sound, image, body language, etc. - and for some speakers/performers it may be difficult to not get visual feedback from an audience or to not be able to express their self with body language -- but perhaps, if we all get into the mindset of silence and 'open our minds' (forgive the cliché) to the resonating sound of a voice and story, then we will be most open to resonating with that voice and story.

Anne Dalke's picture

date and time of day

How about Friday evening, April 18? What time?
(say why this would be good, or why it won't work).
If it won't work, offer some alternatives!
And where to do it....?

Anne Dalke's picture

Good Friday

oh, right, April 18th is Good Friday--probably not good
for quite a few of us (and for our hoped-for audience)....

Kelsey's picture

Friday April 18th works for

Friday April 18th works for me.  I would suggest having the event at 7pm or 8pm- after dinner, but before parties/ other late night activities start.  I think that Saturday April 19th at 7 or 8pm could also work if people prefer that.  

Anne Dalke's picture


volunteer here for the work you want to do
(including the creation of more sub-committees, as/if you see the need)

aphorisnt's picture

Working Groups!!

Ok, folks, so I'm thinking we'll need a couple of working groups to make this story sham happen!!

-Outreach: people in charge if advertising, publicity, and getting folks to come. we'll need...

  1. Folks to design and put up flyers
  2. folks to reach out to clubs/organizations/affinity groups
  3. Maybe some people to table in campus center or erdman
  4. Someone to bottomline everything

-Logistics: making sure we have what we need

  1. Reserving space
  2. Reserving speakers,microphones, cameras(?) maybe something to hook up an iPod if we want music
  3. Securing food/beverages, materials (paper, markers, notecards) and the means (i.e. transportation) to get them
  4. Someone to bottomline everything 

-Media: all thingselectronic 

  1. Designing flyers for advertising
  2. Creating and monitoring a facebook event
  3. Sending out an activities email (if we want one)
  4. Filming the event (with consent from participants!!)
  5. Maybe photographer(s)
  6. Post everything to serendip/Facebook after
  7. A bottomliner

-Programming: those working behind the scenes and out in front the day of

  1. MC(s) to introduce people and facilitate discussions
  2. Folks to set up the room (chairs/tables where we want them, food, posters and markers for silent discussion, maybe artwork, etc)
  3. Folks to monitor silent discussion
  4. Folks to distribute and collect notecards
  5. Organizing an order of go for who speaks/performs when
  6. Bottomliner

We'll also need folks to stay after for breakdown/clean up and we may want a finances group to be in charge of purchasing items and keeping track of receipts if we think something like that would be necessary

folks should join as many or few working groups as they like-and please add whatever groups/tasks we need-though I would recommend only bottom lining one group. Multiple bottom liners for groups are also welcome. I do recommend that all bottom liners keep in contact and report back to each other, especially since there is some overlap regarding tasks.

Does this sound ok to folks?

sara.gladwin's picture

I'm really interested in the

I'm really interested in the design of the space in terms of art; creating a space that feels comfortable and "home-like"... I would want to reach out to students about having art around the room/ having some of our own creative projects put up! This feels like a sub-committee, but not quite sure which committee.

aphorisnt's picture

I feel like as far as the

I feel like as far as the working groups I came up with that would fa under the set-up related Tasha of programming, but then we could also totally make that a separate group, too. If you want to bottomline  designing the space, that would be super rad and I'll leave it to you if you want to make that its own working group or not. But yeah, I love the idea of making a home-like setting!! It just sounds so welcoming to me which is prett much exactly what we want I think. 

smilewithsh's picture

I think we should also all

I think we should also all meet again together and really sit down and make a list about who is going to do what and how. We need to make sure we are going about advertisng and things like that properly according to the guidelines, we should get in touch with the Communications office, and tabling!! I'd love to help design posters with someone; and then we can network out to our own friends and dorm and distribute! 

aphorisnt's picture

I second the motion!!! I

I second the motion!!! I haven't been in class yet today because I have been making my way back from West Virginia but I'm gonna hopefully be in English even of I'm a little late.

We can decide in class or if someone wants to send out a doodle for a date/time to meet we could do that

smilewithsh's picture

So in regards to actually

So in regards to actually picking a date and reserving the space, I think we should also look into other events that may be happening. It would probably make sense to have our event be during a time when there isn't anything else going on. I already know MSA is having an event on April 18th at 5 pm throughout the evening in Quita Woodward. I think April 19th or 20th would be good dates, time wise perhaps somewhere in the afternoon? We should also table for this outside Erdman and the arch! 


Jenna Myers's picture

Response to aphorisnt

I think aphorisnt summed up the groups pretty well. I would be happy to work on advertising or be in the logistics group (especially if we have the event in Rhoads Dining Hall). Would it be possible to have the event during the day on a weekend (April 18 from 1-3pm)?

Kelsey's picture

aphorisnt, I think that

aphorisnt, I think that sounds great!  I think you covered pretty much everything we'll need.  But what do you mean by bottomliner?  I don't think I'm familiar with that term.

We also need to plan the event- how we want it organized, what prompts we want, etc.  But I think we can and should do that as an entire class, so that everyone who wants to has input into how the event is structured.

I would be interested in working on media.  I'm happy to create a FB event/ send as many e-mails as necessary, and can photograph/ film the event if we decide we want that.  

aphorisnt's picture

Sorry about that, bottomliner

Sorry about that, bottomliner refers to a person who is more or less in charge if accountability. They check in every so often with all other folks in their working group to make sure those folks are able to complete the tasks they choose to take on. The bottomliner is also there in the event that someone cannot complete a task or is struggling to take care of things. The bottomliner can help coordinate support for that individual or check in with other group members to see if they might like to take on the task for the other person.

As a note, bottomliner is not synonymous with "leader" or any hierarchical position, they just perform the necessary task of making sure stuff gets done!

Anne Dalke's picture

research sub-comittee?

Might a couple of you might designate yourselves a "research sub-committee," to learn more about story slams, and also to attend two other upcoming events @ Haverford, which might prove rich resources for us:
Paula Palmer's Workshop, Seeds of Injustice, Roots of Change, in Stokes 106, 3-5 p.m. Sat, Mar. 29
Evalyn Perry's performance, Spin, in Marshall Auditorium, 7-9:30 p.m., Sat, Apr. 5 (and other workshops
she's conducting @ HC, March 16th to April 6)?

Student 24's picture


I'd love to do this!