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200: The End II



Here we are, dear listeners, at episode 200, entitled ’The End II’. I felt it really important to extend past episode 199 in this series (entitled ‘The End’), taking some time to reflect on the 63 pieces of audio, representing 7 questions answered by 9 creatives. This episode is the final product of this marination of ideas to connect the disconnected. 


My preferred method of thinking is through movement; walking while thinking over several weeks’ time that three emergent narratives revealed themselves to me: 3 themes with 3 creatives tied to each one. 


Now I’d like to be clear that these are not the only or definitive themes present; rather these are the themes that jumped out at me at this specific time and place in my life, and others could have very well identify three different themes based on their specific time and place (also, this dovetails beautifully into theme two, but we’ll get there in a few minutes).


I’d like to extend a HUGE THANK YOU to Nansy, Guy Anabella, Dusty, Carla, Barbra, Brit, Christian, Bonny and Ariel. I truly enjoyed the process of sitting down with each of you to learn a little bit more about your crafts, about your approaches to storytelling and about you as human beings.


Let’s do this…


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Theme One: Stories Build Bridges of Connection and Belonging


Stories have the incredible power of connecting folks to one another, to themselves, to places and spaces, and have done so for a long, long time. I feel that my conversations with Nancy Khanano, Barbra Lica and Bonny Spence Dieterich most exemplify this first theme. 


I really appreciated the way that Nansy spoke about using her educational background in art history, combined with her incredible artistic talent, her technological prowess and her curiosity about her cultural heritage to build worlds that others can explore through game environment design. She talked about the little details, such as thinking about how lived-in an environment might be, to ensure that even the smallest hints of authenticity are reflected in an environment, like handprints on a heavily used door frame. It’s in the small details that many players won’t even consciously recognize that they’re being transported into a world other than their own. It’s through the small details that Nancy is able to connect players within an immersive game experience, suspending disbelief and providing a sense of belonging in the game space. I am so grateful to Nansy for sharing stories through her craft. 


Barbra described the way that she enjoys the process of songwriting and collaborating with others, often simply starting a session with a question about what’s going on in each other’s lives. She described the ways in which this simple spark of connection has been the impetus for her songwriting, one of which featured in the series called ‘The Ghost of Me’. We learned the ways in which Barbra’s songwriting is also a way to process things going on in her life, connecting her to herself. After a song is written and worked through with her band, the performance is a whole new type of connection between her and an audience. She explains the ways that her songs are often about her experiences of moving through the world awkwardly and she hopes that her stories resonate with others and foster a sense of belonging in a world that celebrates perfection. I am so grateful to Barbra for sharing stories through her craft. 


Bonny shared a number of stories about the ways in which her work centres around equity and inclusion, particularly focussed on disability awareness and kindness. She uses her work in the classroom, in consultation with educators and with a global community through her children’s book, Recess Magic to help her achieve this. In our conversation, she described how she found her voice after publishing her story, allowing her to advocate for herself in ways that weren’t possible prior. Bonny’s work helps connect folks with new ideas and ways of seeing the world through a different lens, with the hope that positive actions on a small scale and policy change on a large scale might be possible when we understand that it’s a human right to belong. I am so grateful to Bonny for sharing stories through her craft. 


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Theme Two: Stories Provide the Conditions for Complexity and Multiplicity


Stories have the incredible ability to act as a container that can hold important information, non-linear narratives and layered meaning that helps us to understand something with greater breadth and depth than a non-emotive medium. They help us push past our human desire to oversimplify. They help us push past the short-hands, stereotypes and categorizations that our human brains rely on to make sense of our experiences in the world. They help us push past the need for one singular truth to exist. I feel that my conversations with Guy Anabella, Brit Chida and Ariel Benavidez most exemplify this second theme. 


Guy Anabella described her desire to break down the binary with her drag and through her teaching. She explained the etymology of her name; the fusing of both masculine (Guy) and feminine (Anabella) rooted in her cultural heritage (Guyanese), plus a sprinkling of Sean Paul for good measure. Bella described the intentional acts of both masculine and feminine energy in her outward appearance; her beautiful make up and nails with hyper-feminine outfits, alongside exposed body hair and a muscular, masculine physique. She explained that it didn’t feel safe to act feminine growing up and the ways in which she is reclaiming that femininity through her experience as Bella. She also shared how she’s helping to propel the next generation of creatives forward through empowering them to find their own gendered or non-gendered narratives and expressing them loudly for all to hear. I am so grateful to Bella for sharing stories through her craft. 


Brit talked a lot about their art centred around trauma and healing. We spoke about their belief that all feelings are welcomed, but that doesn’t necessarily have to become the whole story. Brit described their piece ‘Joy, Still’ that depicts golden lines radiating from a centre point. In the key, these gold lines are labeled ‘everything is bad’. Interspersed between the gold lines are purple lines also radiating from the central point. In the key, these purple lines are labelled ‘joy, still’. There can be two or more existing realities within a single lived reality and Brit’s work reminds us of this. I am so grateful to Brit for sharing stories through their craft. 


Ariel spoke at length about the notion of paradox that has presented itself over and over again in recent years. For any truth that he believes, he’s also able to understand that the equal and opposite is true in a different context. Ariel‘s thinking has shifted from “I know my reality and this is my definite way of thinking” to “I have some ideas and if you want to explore these ideas together, let’s sit down and have a chat”. Ariel’s worldview has expanded from a singular way of being and understanding oneself, to that multiple realities being able to exist simultaneously. It’s being open to something larger than and outside himself — and simultaneously within himself — where he has seen growth in his own narrative. I am so grateful to Ariel for sharing stories through his craft. 


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Theme Three: Stories On a Small Scale Enable Action on a Large Scale 


Like a Rube Goldberg machine (where each small, non-linear action in a chain of events results in a much larger, purpose-driven action), sharing personal narratives through writing, art and oral traditions on a small scale helps move a much larger narrative — and actions along with it — forward in the process. The world is changed with story and through story and these stories often start in small, deeply personal places. I feel that my conversations with Dusty Folwarczny, Carla Palette and Christian Danielson most exemplify this third and final theme. 


Dusty described the ways that her visual notetaking helps to create clarity within communities. I appreciate the way she spoke about sitting around a campfire and how traditional storytelling enables mutual, shared understanding through visuals in the audience members’ minds. Her work often starts from a central idea or theme and she and her team create visuals to support the communication of that concept. ‘A picture is worth 1000 words’ and that’s exactly what Dusty‘s work is all about. When we all can be on the same page of understanding, great things are possible as we all stand on a solid shared understanding of a topic. I am so grateful to Dusty for sharing stories through her craft. 


Carla spoke about using her voice as a brand identity designer to say what others might be afraid to say, moving the narrative forward through bold copy, text and visuals. Carla spoke about how her early corporate design jobs shaped her distinctive voice in the world of brand identity design, that now lives far outside of corporate. She’s okay that she and her messaging are not for everyone… and that’s kind of the point. In order to cut through the noise, Carla isn’t afraid to be different in her building of brand identity that changes the world one visual at a time to a global audience. I am so grateful to Carla for sharing stories through her craft. 


Christian described the way he’s practiced the art of Asian-style tattooing, learning the mythology and practices of this ancient art. Stories are encapsulated in the symbols of the stories. Applying these motifs to human skin adds a uniquely personal element to the stories, embedded in the layers of human skin that can then be carried anywhere and everywhere; stories carried anywhere and everywhere. I am so grateful to Christian for sharing stories through his craft. 


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In wrapping up this very long story, I’ll share this final story about stories to conclude this series on storytelling. 


I recently caught up with a friend who is a change-maker in our education system. She was telling me about her evolution as a presenter, sharing that a huge shift in her style is from the presentation of fact-based, empirical data, transitioning her approach to one centered around telling stories. I asked her the biggest lesson she’s learned about professional storytelling and she poignantly shared this: “I’ve learned to ensure that every story has a point and that every point has a story.”  


So my final point, dear listeners, is this: Tell your stories unabashedly in any medium you choose because your stories are necessary and vital to the collective human experience, no matter if you’re reaching global audiences or reaching yourself. An interweaving of multiple shared realities helps us connect and find belonging. It’s through micro acts of reverence, often shared through story, that we may experience macro growth in our communities and our world at-large.


The End.




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Meet the 9 Creatives Featured in This Series



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Sound & Music Credits



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