Saturday, August 18, 2012

Kudos to the JustStories FaceBook Festival

By Linda Goodman

            Racebridges’ JustStories Storytelling Festival, a three day FaceBook event devoted to stories about race relations, pride and pain, tears and laughter, and the ongoing search for the amazing American identity and our global family was held August 1 – 3.  I was on the road on during that time, but I was able to listen to only four stories, all well crafted and flawlessly told by respected storytellers. I loved being able to read the comments that followed each story. The quality was so good that I felt like I was watching a program on PBS. I did have a little trouble with volume on two of the stories (not sure if my computer or the festival technology was the cause of this).

            How is this different from live telling? The fourth wall was most definitely in place. Storytellers gear their stories to suit the audience, and in the cases of the stories that I saw, the audience was the camera. At a live show, I feel as if the teller is speaking directly to me. JustStories felt like high quality TV. That is not a criticism, just an observation. I happen to like television. Also, at a live show, I would have been part of an audience whose members would have fed off of one another's enthusiasm. I missed hearing the laughter, the sighs, and, most of all, the applause.

            This is a medium that will be of great value to the storytelling commuinity, and will be a godsend to those story lovers whose traveling is limited due to health, finances, or time constraints. Storytelling at your fingertips is a good thing, but I hope it will be a companion to live telling, not a successor. Both forms have significant value. 

Kudos to Susan O'Halloran and Racebridges for bringing us such a high quality first virtual storytelling festival! 

Thoughts from other viewers who had more time to spend with the festival:

From Sandi, mother of 5 (Sandi is a stay at home, homeschooling mom ) via FaceBook:

            OH SO GOOD~I am really, REALLY enjoying all the stories!!!!! Some favorite tellers so far, and I wish I could just sit and enjoy this all day to find more! LOL! Alton Chung, Olga Loya, Nancy Wang, and Judith Heineman. I'm sure I'll find more to follow in the weeks to come. Any of the wonderful tellers will be welcome to stay in my home and share a meal if they come to the Richmond area.

From Lynn Haynes, via email:

            I have been listening to Juststories. It kept my mind occupied while my daughter-in-law had open heart surgery. I love what they've done. Some years ago I told Jane Crouse that the National Storytelling Festival was a sabbatical for me, from all that might be wrong in my life. It lifted me up and fixed everything. I haven't been able to attend that festival since 2007. I needed the lift. Juststories has done it for me, and we still have another day to go. I emailed non-tellers about it three times to tell and remind them. I was tickled to see some of them "Like" it.

            I first begged tellers to video tape performances back in 1990. It is the absolute best way to showcase themselves and for others to be their sales force when they share those videos.

What Juststories has done is excerpts from longer stories, excerpts that tell a complete story (unlike an annoying clip) yet leave the viewer wanting more.

            For years I bought every video I could get my hands on. I think I own about 60 storytelling videos, which I used to host storytelling chili parties in my home for folks who had never experienced storytelling. As a result of my storytelling video chili parties, every single person who ever attended later paid to attend other storytelling performances. Two attended the very next National Storytelling Festival and have never missed a year since. One traveled to storytelling festivals in three states. All ended up being paying listeners. One, for a time, was in a position to hire storytellers, and did. I'm just one person. Without those videos I couldn't have made that much of a difference. I also took those videos to the nursing home across the street and played them for the residents. Now that I am physically incapable of attending festivals, an event such as Juststories really does make a difference in my life. I am grateful.

            The Juststories audience seems to be primarily other storytellers. If tellers only tell to each other, how can storytelling grow as it should? This festival is making the right start, using a mainstream social network, to reach beyond those boundaries. It takes time. It has been a good festival. It will grow. Everyone needs to tell everyone on all their lists all about it.

The only negative I see for this event is not at all a negative for the listener, only for the tellers. It is free. To monetize the event would, for tellers, be ideal. I however, hope they don't. The shorts as part of larger stories are wonderful teasers that, with a broader audience, should lead to paying jobs for tellers. Give-aways are often a good marketing ploy. Juststories has been a grand give-away. Again, I am grateful.

Stories are still available for you listening pleasure at or

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