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September 2022 Newsletter

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ECOSIG

Reconnecting People and Nature through the Art of Oral Storytelling

The Eco-Storytelling Special Interest Group (ESIG) is an interest group of SAS members that practise the art of storytelling in nature education and advocacy with the hope of inspiring others to act sustainably for a greener planet. Research increasingly suggests that trying to promote behavioural change through fear can be counterproductive, leading to anxiety or depression that results in an issue being avoided, denied or met with a sense of helplessness. However, storytelling with positive role models and which focuses on the positive outcomes of solutions are more likely to inspire action to solve it.

The members  share stories and ideas online via WhatsApp and Zoom and occasionally meet up in person.

If you would like to know more or join the ESIG, contact Mindy at  mindymarieneo@gmail.com .

MusicSIG

Music is the universal language of mankind and 

human beings are wired for story.

The  ‘Storytelling with Song & Music’ Special Interest Group (SMSIG) connects the two. 

Rosemarie Somaiah leads this Special Interest Group for SAS members. Any member who is interested in exploring this area is welcome to join the group.

She hopes to start with an introductory session to discuss the idea and present work in the field. Following this and based on interest from members, the members of the SIG will decide how often meetings are to be held. While it is hoped that the meetings may be held F2F, where required, online meeting are possible too.

If you would like to know more or join the SMSIG, contact Rosemarie at rosemarie@asianstorytellingnetwork.com 

PSIG

The Personal Storytelling Special Interest group led by Earn Meng Chan, started meeting a few months ago. Here is a small note from Earn Meng about the PSIG and how he found storytelling. 

“Being a business executive all my life, like many of my peers, I scorned at stories – the soft-touchy feely stuff. We rely on analysis and information to get things moving. ‘There’s no place for stories in the professional setting’ was my belief.

Then one day, I stumbled onto the power of storytelling, specifically personal stories. I then worked in a bank. My boss, John, and I went to NUS to hold a recruitment talk for the graduating students. John was to give a 20-minutes presentation and I assumed he would do what all other recruiters did – talk about the bank, the role, and the full suite of benefits, all packed in beautiful slides. To my surprise, he did none of that. Instead, faced with hundreds of students in the auditorium, he told personal stories – how he took charge of his career when he stepped out of school and why he ended up with a bank. After his talk, throngs of students flocked to John and we merrily went home with huge stacks of resumes. That was a complete eye-opener for me. 

I wanted to learn all about storytelling. I joined SAS. That was a couple of years ago. With the encouragement and support from the wonderful SAS peers, I gathered the courage to start a Special Interest Group focusing about Personal stories. I was blessed to find like-minded folks with a similar enthusiasm. In January 2022, we started the Personal Storytelling Special Interest Group (PSIG). Our vision is to harbour a supportive and safe space for people to uncover and share personal stories, hone storytelling skills and confidence, foster closer ties, and have fun. 

In the  months that have passed since then, we have met a few times. In one of our sessions, we invited a professional storyteller to teach us storytelling skills. In other sessions, we simply gathered, and someone started telling a story. There is a saying that ‘Story begets story’.  That is exactly what happened time and again. Once a story was told, it triggered more stories in the group, and time just flew past. In one memorable session, we invited 2 secondary school students to tell. One of them told us about a hilarious day in a gym while the other shared a courageous moment of her beloved dog in the face of death. It was an evening of connection where age did not matter. Everyone had something to share.

To borrow the words of Christina Baldwin, “Every person is born into life as a blank page – and every person leaves life as a full book. Our lives are our story, and our story is our life.” Personal narratives are a powerful means to get to know who we are.’
If you would like to know more or to join the PSIG, contact Earn Meng at earnmeng@yahoo.com

Events in Singapore & Around the World

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SAS is an Institutional member of FEAST. September 2022 brings for FEAST its very first FEAST LEARNING FEST. The Learning Fest has five powerful workshops, with selective topics.

The Focus on Folklore section is an opportunity to discover different cultures from a storyteller’s perspective

You’ll find plenty here to engage and enrich your own storytelling journey. The Learning Fest is spaced over two weeks but if that’s too intense, or life gets in the way, remember, the recordings will be online until 30th November, so you have plenty of time to view (and even re-watch them.)

To register and find out more about the Learning Fest click here for the FEAST website.

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Click here to register for the event.

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The Australian Storytelling Guild has a number of events every month. See below for information

.’Golden Stories’ – Story Swap 

  • Wednesday, 21 September 2022
  • 7:20 pm  9:00 pm  AEST
  • Online on Zoom, hosted by Australian Storytelling Guild NSW Inc.

Is there a pot of Gold at the end of the rainbow? Where is the Golden treasure hidden in the field? What does Midas touch that turns to Gold? OR perhaps you have been awestruck by a golden sunrise.  Perhaps a Golden Anniversary or TV episode of the Golden Girls may have surfaced some loving or playful memories? Each month we have a prompt for our story swap. This month it is stories that have gold or something golden in the tale whether it be folklore, personal story or historical menace or mystery. 

If you would like to tell a story of 5-6 minutes email Christine Carlton at storyaus@gmail.com to be put on the list to tell a story. Your story could be a personal story, myth, legend, or folktale. – The word ‘Gold’ or ‘Golden’ must appear in the story.

Come as a listener or teller. All welcome.

This is a free online event organised by the Australian Storytelling Guild (NSW)

Register on Eventbrite to receive zoom link

.Blue Mountains Storytelling Circle online

  • Sunday 25 September
  • 2:00 pm –  4:00 pm, Sydney time
  • Online on Zoom, hosted by Australian Storytelling Guild NSW Inc.

Kiran Shah and Jill Webster are your hosts at Blue Mountains Circle.   Story Circles are informal gatherings where storytellers meet and share stories, try out new stories, ask for feedback from other members.  

The group meets one Sunday afternoon a month. If you would like to participate email Kiran and she will forward the Zoom link. Kiran  kiranstoryteller@gmail.com 

Free event. Visitors are welcome to join us!

Inner West Story Circle online 

  • Tuesday, 6 September 2022
  • 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm, Sydney time
  • Online on Zoom, hosted by Australian Storytelling Guild NSW Inc.

Join your host, Liz Locksley, and the Inner West Story Circle.

Story Circles are informal gatherings where storytellers share stories, try out new stories, ask for feedback from other members, join in some skill-based exercises, and enjoy the friendship of other storytellers.

If you would like to join or know more, please contact Liz. Liz@thrivestory.life

This is a free online event organised by the Australian Storytelling Guild (NSW). Visitors are welcome to join us!

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Our Fragile Ecosystems

Unless someone like you and me care a whole awful lot,

Nothing is going to get better, it is not. – Dr. Seuss

August 12 is observed as World Elephant Day! International days are occasions to educate the public on issues of concern, to mobilize Mother Earth’s resources, to address global problems and raise awareness on issues concerning nature and environment. The message for this World Elephant Day is, “personifying prehistoric beauty, theological relevance, and environmental importance.”

With only 40,000-50,000 elephants left in the wild, they are classified as endangered. It is very critical to conserve both African and Asian elephants since they play such a vital role in our ecosystems. Elephants are a keystone species for their environments since they promote healthy ecosystems and encourage biodiversity. The World Elephant Day website says, “To lose the elephant is to lose an environmental caretaker and an animal from which we have much to learn.”

These gentle giants roam our forests. Are they strong? Their size makes us want to believe they must be strong, but sadly their population is dwindling. It is mainly due to the demand for ivory and habitat loss. No one needs ivory more than elephants!

According to the climate index released by OCBC Bank and Eco-Business, Singaporeans are aware of sustainability, but few make green choices. Based on the index, OCBC said that while most Singaporeans are conscious of almost all environmental issues, they made few sustainable choices on average and advocated sustainability even more selectively.

Are we willing to make better choices, and take one baby step at a time for our future generations? Are we ready to learn the difference between need and want? Are we willing to know the difference between death and strength? Are we eager to learn the difference between destruction and creation?

Let us take the first step towards a better future and to remind us let me share this Limba Tale from West Africa.

Contest

The animals were having a contest. It was a contest to showcase strength. On the day of the contest, the arena was set and beautifully decorated. The spectators were seated, eagerly awaiting the contest.

One by one the contestants arrived and took their seats. Chimpanzee came swinging in singing, “I am the Champ Chimp of this strength contest, I will win you see! Oooo dooby dooby doo!”

Second to arrive was deer, who bounded his way into the arena.

Thirdly, leopard leapt in with a growl. 

Next elephant lumbered in one foot in front of the other, and he sang, “Dhamak dhamak comes the elephant! Dhamak Dhamak wins the elephant!

The contestants and the spectators were waiting for one more contestant, who was late. Finally, after what seemed like an inordinately long wait, man arrived. 

The judges, a giraffe, a crow and a tortoise took their positions. The stage was set for the contest. “Let the contest begin”, announced the judges.

Chimpanzee sprung up a tree, brought down a coconut and pried it open with her bare hands. All the spectators cheered, “Strength! Strength! Strength!” 

Secondly deer charged, he ran five miles into the forest and ran back five miles in a blink of an eye. No huffing and puffing and not a bead of sweat. All that the spectators saw was a cloud of dust. “Strength! Strength! Strength!” they chorused.

Next leopard pulled out her claws, dug a tunnel through the earth and disappeared and reappeared. “Strength! Strength! Strength!” applauded the spectators.

Next elephant had to showcase his strength. You see there was this majestic oak tree, and it was in the way of the passersby; deer got its antlers caught in the low hanging branches, snake was caught between the roots and couldn’t escape, but elephant leaned upon the trunk with his shoulder and cleared the pathway for all. “Strength! Strength! Strength!” clapped the spectators. 

Next was man’s turn. Man walked to the center of the stage, he did cartwheels, he did somersaults, he did handsprings. The spectators were happy! They said, that was entertaining! But that was not strength! 

Man was angry! His ego was bruised! The kind judges decided to give him one more chance. 

Man rushed to the bushes. Remember man was late? He had brought a gun to the venue. He had hidden it between some bushes. He pulled out the gun, came running back and before anyone could react, he pointed the gun at the giraffe, “Bang! Bang! Bang! 

Thud! Down fell the giraffe dead! All the spectators fled! 

They huddled deep in the forest and said, “That was not strength, that was death! Man doesn’t know the difference between strength and death.”

In the meantime, man looked around, man waited for applause, but none came. 

The sad thing about destroying the environment…the bluebirds will be gone, and the elephants… Ted Turner

References: The Straits Times

Story: Contest – A Story by The Limba People of West Africa

Worldwide Fund for Nature