Z is for Zimbabwe Zeroth & Zenith–A to Z Blog Challenge

Zimbabwe Sunset by Steve EvansZ imageWe are pleased to participate in the A to Z Blog Challenge (http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/).  The Story Crossroads theme for this year is Kindness Across Cultures: Stories to Prove We Care.  Each post highlights present-day andfolktale examples.

Zimbabwe has vibrant sunsets and the awe-inspiring Victoria Falls.  People cherish the beauty surrounding them including family, especially as the average life expectancy is only age 45.  They know life is precious for everyone.  Absorb the beauty yourself by viewing these birds atop trees in Lake Kariba in Zimbabwe taken by by Steve Evans.  He has granted permission for Story Crossroads to use this image.

Please note, “Zeroth” means immediately preceding what is regarded as first in a series while “Zenith” means at time at which something is most powerful or successful.  By partaking in this A to Z Blog Challenge, my mind has been–even before the beginning of it and to the very end–been on the kindness of others from around the world.  All these kindnesses build on each other until we are to the zenith or the most successful that we can be as part of humanity.  A reflection of the 2018 Blog Challenge experience will be out on May 7th as will others participating.

Present-Day Zeroth & Zenith

Runyararo Children’s Home is run by Harvest Christian Fellowship and held at a high school.  They care for about 10 children and cover all their costs from food to school to clothing.  Some people help sponsor from the United States though mainly people from Zimbabwe help.  Learn more here:  http://www.zimbabas.co.zw/runyararo-childrens-home/#.WuYs2YjwaUk.

Past Zeroth & Zenith (Folktale)

This Zimbabwe tale entitled “Children of Wax” was collected by well-known author Alexander McCall Smith in his book “The Girl who Married a Lion and Other Tales from Africa,” published by Pantheon Books.

Here is a summary:

A couple wished to have children. Finally, they were able to have children though each time they were born, the children were made out of wax.  The parents loved them as they would any children.  Though, with the children being made of wax, they could not go outside during the day.  Instead, they did their chores and playtime at night.  The father made a hut that was gloomy and completely dark so they would be protected during the day.  The youngest of the children, Ngwabi, longed to see the sun. The other children tried to sway him from such dreams and they all knew he would melt and be no more.  As the years passed, the desire intensified until Ngwabi ran out from the hut.  He did not get far before he melted.  The other children could only wait until nighttime.  The oldest child molded the wax into the shape of a bird that Ngwabi loved so much.  The other children gathered leaves to be the feathers and placed on a branch.  When the sun rose, they children watched through the tiniest of slits of the hut as the wax bird came to life and flew away.  The children knew their brother was happy and free.

Interesting Notes on Kindness  

  • The parents loved their children despite the differences of wax versus flesh and gave as much as they could for them to be safe and happy
  • The children were obedient and kind and a joy to their parents
  • The children tried to protect Ngwabi from the sun and sometimes kindness for others is unknown until the unthinkable happens
  • The children molded and created the wax bird to honor Ngwabi as a small kindness for what he loved
  • A higher power of some kind blessed that wax bird to life and offered that mercy to the family so Ngwabi was happy and free and the other children were happy knowing Ngwabi was happy

What stories of kindness do you know associated with Zimbabwe?  Anywhere in the world – past or present?  Please share in the comments…or anything on your mind.

While you enjoy this blog, Story Crossroads has year-round offerings including the culminating Festival on May 23, 2018 with free performances May 21-24, 2018 (see schedule here: https://storycrossroads.com/2018-schedule/).  

We thank our funders such as the National Endowment for the Arts, the Utah Division of Arts and Museums, the Western States Arts Federation, Utah Humanities, the City of Murray, the South Jordan Arts Council, Utah Valley University and many other individuals. Join us in the support by attending or donating or both! (Click here to donate or get tickets.

O is for Orkney Open-handedness & Oneness–A to Z Blog Challenge

Guide to Orkney IslandsO imageWe are pleased to participate in the A to Z Blog Challenge (http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/).  The Story Crossroads theme for this year is Kindness Across Cultures: Stories to Prove We Care.  Each post highlights present-day and folktale examples.

Orkney Islands of Scotland display such dramatic hues of greens and blues that it can catch one’s breath.  Being surrounded by such beauty can bring out the inner beauty.  This is a picture of part of the Orkney Islands by Martin McCarthy.

Present-Day Openness & Oneness

One hundred homes in the Orkney Islands were visited by firefighters to ensure that everyone could live in safety.  Known for those straw-backed chairs, those are not the only things flammable.  These firefighters checked the smoke detectors and shared safety tips for free while going home to home from April to June in 2017.  People opened their homes and the whole neighborhood was united.  Find out more here:  http://www.firescotland.gov.uk/news-campaigns/news/2017/08/orkney-scrutiny.aspx.

Past Openness & Oneness (Folktale)

This Scottish story is called “Kate Crackernuts” and can be found in the book “Magical Tales from Many Lands” retold by Margaret Mayo, published by Dutton Children’s Books.

A few other versions are available here:

Here is a summary:

A royal family had two Kates because the King’s first wife had died and then remarried.  These two stepsisters loved each other. The queen was jealous that her Kate was not as beautiful as the first Kate.  The queen turned to the witch/hen-wife to curse that Kate to be uglier. The witch said she must arrive without eating or drinking anything. That Kate nibbled on something unaware of this deal.  Kate was sent back until finally the queen had to escort her to make sure Kate did not eat anything. When Kate lifted the pot of the witch/hen-wife, she saw a sheep’s head that then became her own. The queen’s Kate was upset and left with this Kate to seek their fortune in the world. The queen’s Kate worked as a kitchen maid in another kingdom and lied that her sister was sick so the sheep-headed one would not be embarrassed. This king had two sons, and one of the sons was sick.  Anyone who went to watch the sick prince was not seen the next day. The queen’s Kate was brave and sat with the prince for a bag of silver.  At midnight, the prince arose and jumped on his horse. Kate jumped behind. The prince came to a hill and called out to let he and his horse and hound in and Kate added “and his fair lady.” The hillside opened and the prince danced and danced with many ladies. This was the hall of the fairy folk. She hid in the shadows or she could be caught in this land forever. A fairy child played nearby with a wand and someone said to be careful for only three flicks of that wand would make the lady with the sheep’s head return to her beauty. Kate rolled out some hazel nuts, distracting the child, and took the wand. She rode back with the prince back. She waved the wand and restored her sister’s head. She ate and cracked the hazelnuts from that land. She watched the prince for a second night and asked for a bag of gold from the king. She entered the fairy land as before. This time there was a fairy child with a white bird and someone said to be careful for only three bites of that bird’s meat would heal the prince from the fairy enchantment. Kate rolled out some hazel nuts, distracting the child, and took the bird. She cooked the bird and fed the prince. The prince was healed and the King gave the bag of silver, the bag of gold, and offered anything. Kate wished to marry this prince and became known as Kate Crackernuts. The other prince married the other Kate. There were still two Kates in the same royal family.

Interesting Notes on Kindness

  • Kate and Kate loved each other despite many other stories portraying stepsisters as at odds with each other
  • Kate was upset at her mother’s cruelty and opted to be with her kind sister than surround herself with that meanness
  • The Queen’s Kate watched over her sister and did not worry about the sheep’s head except to cure it somehow
  • Kate was kind and brave to watch the prince at night when people became reluctance due to people missing
  • Though it would be “stealing,” Kate was kind about it and distracted the child without a fight and was then able to break enchantments and help her sister as well as the prince
  • King was open in rewarding and led to Kate’s happiness and later on the other Kate’s happiness in marriage
  • The two Kates continued to have strong sisterly bonds

What stories of kindness do you know associated with the Orkney Islands or Scotland?  Anywhere in the world – past or present?  Please share in the comments…or anything on your mind.

While you enjoy this blog, Story Crossroads has year-round offerings including the culminating Festival on May 23, 2018 (see schedule here: https://storycrossroads.com/2018-schedule/).  

We thank our funders such as the National Endowment for the Arts, the Utah Division of Arts and Museums, the Western States Arts Federation, Utah Humanities, the City of Murray, the South Jordan Arts Council, Utah Valley University and many other individuals. Join us in the support by attending or donating or both! (Click here to donate or get tickets.

DRUM ROLL…2018 A TO Z BLOG CHALLENGE THEME REVEAL (STARTING APRIL 1)

atoz-theme-reveal-2018Time to beat the drums and enjoy the anticipation of a 4th Story Crossroads theme reveal as part of the A to Z Blog Challenge (http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com) that happens throughout the month of April.  These are 26 postings for each of the letters of the alphabet (with rest on Sundays except April 1st, no foolin’).

AND THE THEME IS…

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THEME:  KINDNESS ACROSS CULTURES: STORIES TO PROVE WE CARE

Storytelling expands the hearts of even the most contentious of us all.  Plenty of adventure stories are to be had…though ones that celebrate kindness? Trickster tales abound, but what of the stories that seek out to help each other instead of oneself? Thus, we explore all the continents–even Antarctica–on these tales.  Most will be from folktales though modern-day examples will also be shared.

As we post these fascinating pieces, please feel free to comment, share with others, and add story examples from the past or present from anywhere in the world.

HERE IS A SNEAK PEEK AS TO THE FIRST POSTS:

A = Afghanistan Ancient Adventures, posted April 1st

B = Baghdad Blues Brightened, posted April 2nd

C = Chile Cares Continuously, posted April 3rd

 

 

While you enjoy this blog, Story Crossroads has year-round offerings including the culminating Festival on May 23, 2018 (see schedule here:  https://storycrossroads.com/2018-schedule/).  

We thank our funders such as the National Endowment for the Arts, the Utah Division of Arts and Museums, the Western States Arts Federation, the South Jordan Arts Council, the City of Murray, and many other individuals.  Join us in the support by attending or donating or both.  (Click here to go directly to donation page.)  

Cap’s Off To You!-Dianne de Las Casas (Posthumously) and Celebrating Story

Dianne-de-Las-Casas-in-her-library-sq

Featuring:  Dianne de Las Casas (Posthumously)

Dazzle & Sparkle Queen, Storyteller & Writer Extraordinaire, Champion Promoter and Advocate for All Arts

Dianne de Las Casas brightened any room, actual or virtual.  She invited challenges, encouraged tenacity in herself and others, and did this all with sparkle.  She embraced fears and taught others how “the scary” was more of a friend than a foe.  Whether at conferences or book signings or performances, she treated everyone as if the friendship was a forever one.  She continues to inspire today.

Dianne was 47 when a tragic house fire claimed her life.  The news shocked the storytelling world and beyond, especially when earlier that same day she shared posts on the beauty of the solar eclipse.

My connection with Dianne was more virtual than in-the-same-room.  About eight years ago, I noticed that Dianne had a “green light” next to her name on Facebook.  I took a chance and said hello, not really expecting a response as it was towards 2 am.  We chatted back and forth on our upcoming projects and dreams.  We admitted to each other that we either had insomnia or our brains just would not turn off when we had ideas jumping around.  This meant we were most productive in these wee hours.  We both typically stayed up to 2 or 3am, had about four hours of sleep regularly, and then continued on with the next day.  Yet, we laughed how our bodies still were rested enough so far and it was best to take advantage of this now before our bodies decided something else as we got older.  On this particular day, Dianne was in a time zone ahead of me.  The online chatting back and forth then turned into a late night/early morning phone call.

We discovered that we had similar paths to the storytelling world, both as youth tellers.  We were barely less than 10 years apart in age.  We shared many of the same views of how the storytelling world could be more inclusive instead of feeling contained and constrained.  The idea of Story Crossroads was there at the time with connecting to many cultures, languages, and styles.  Story Crossroads was not even called Story Crossroads at that time.  It was simply “The Dream.”  We both loved storytelling and marketing equally, and how it was not so strange to apply a performance audience with a target audience.  We laughed that more storytellers would love marketing and not hate it if only they made that audience connection.

We then went back to chatting online.  Dianne had her own big ideas that she was excited and anxious about.  When we finally decided to end the night, I wrote this to Dianne, “You will reach your dreams for you are a dreamer of dreams and a doer of dreams. Things naturally happen for those who “do”.  ‘Ladies and Gentlemen. . .it is Dianne de Las Casas. . .the name you all know!'”

This was near the emergence of the Professional Storyteller Ning site, an online community that still connects others today.  Dianne envisioned storytellers from around the world connecting at all times of the day–not just at 2 or 3am–and being stronger tellers and people as a result.

I could list a whole bunch of accomplishments of Dianne.  She supported her two daughters in their own dreams.  Dianne is the reason that Picture Book Month exists every November.  Dianne was a prolific writer who used her Cajun background to breathe new life into old tales.  She wrote the Bible on storytelling marketing with “The Story Biz Handbook” that first was self-published and then became updated and even more amazing when Libraries Unlimited picked it up.

Yet, in order to have these events or accomplishments, Dianne had to be a doer.  She had to be a dreamer and a doer.

When I heard of Dianne’s passing, I scrounged through my pictures and hoped to find at least one or more pictures of when we met at the National Storytelling Conferences.  Surely, I had one of her wearing a tiara.  Nothing.  Yet, the picture in my head of her openness and sparkle is so clear that it is enough to inspire me forever.

Death is not the end.  We miss her here, though Death is the beginning of her new adventure.  I know she is a dreamer and doer there, too.  I look forward to when we all see each other again.

I appreciate Dianne for the influence of yesterday, today, and forever in storytelling and in human decency and generosity.

Dianne still has a story.  You have a story.  We all have stories.

Cap’s Off to You!-South Jordan Arts Council and Celebrating Story

South Jordan collageJim Luter said that he had an appointment with the South Jordan Arts Council and asked if I would come along.  We met at the Gale Center of History and Culture in South Jordan and gathered around the table with several from the Council.  They allowed us plenty of time to share about Story Crossroads, especially as they had questions and comments.  Then I asked, the big question, “Am I right that we can ask up to $1,000 for Story Crossroads.”  One of the Council Members said, “Well, you can’t get $5 if you ask for $1.”  I followed up with the group by asking, “Then can we apply for $5,000 instead of the $1,000?”  Everyone in the group nodded.

The next day the application was turned in and a few weeks later we learned that the South Jordan Arts Council did commit to the $5,000.  Katie Lindquist, the Arts and Volunteer Coordinator, mentioned that the South Jordan Arts Council was very interested in what Story Crossroads was doing and wished down the road for the event to be headquartered in South Jordan.

The South Jordan Arts Council, specifically Katie Lindquist, was pro-active in attending several events leading up to the Story Crossroads Festival including the Canyon School District Storytelling Festival.  She spoke with the Coordinator of that Festival, Rebecca Smith, on how the Arts Council could be more involved.  Everyone recognized that more schools from the district needed to be participate in this annual school district event.  Katie also represented the Council by coming to the Festival itself as well as a couple outreaches.

Of the experience, Katie Lindquist said:

I look forward to working with her more and seeing how the South Jordan Arts Council can help support and expand Storytelling in South Jordan City….I was impressed with the variety of outreaches that went on, leading up to the main Festival event. I am excited to see how this festival will grow.

Katie Lindquist provided the mission and some key events that the South Jordan Arts Council already supports:

Mission Statement
“Provide opportunities for individuals and families to experience the arts through education, participation, and performance.”

Vision
“Inspire life-long appreciation for the Arts.”

The South Jordan Arts Council consists of volunteer member residents who possess a desire to support and promote Arts in South Jordan City. The Arts Council serves as an advisory board to the City Council and meets monthly to evaluate artistic opportunities and needs in the community. Over the last several years, the Arts Council has been able to provide seed money to a variety of different Arts groups through their Grant program.

Some of the Arts Council’s major programs include the following:

Annual Art Show – residents may submit a max of two pieces of work (photography, 2-D, and 3-D). Over the last few years, the number of submissions have increased, especially in the 3-D category. We had a 10’ statue entered during the 2017 Art Show!

Annual Chalk Art Contest – The chalk art contest as always been a highlight, traditionally taking place during Farmers Market. All ages participate in teams or as an individual artist. We see a lot of variety and colors that brighten Towne Center Drive all week! This year, for 2017 – the Chalk Art Contest will be taking place in conjunction with Stage 4 of Tour of Utah in Heritage Park, first Thursday of August.

Quilt Show – Typically featured during Farmer’s Market in front of City Hall. All are welcome to step under the tent, admire the variety styles and designs, and vote on their favorite for a Publics Choice award. This year, for 2017 – the Quilt show will also include other Textile Arts.

Resident on Display – Resident on Display is a program that spotlights an artist or photographer from within South Jordan City. The Artist’s work is displayed at the Gale Center of History & Culture for one month along the back wall of the museum. Afterwards, the pieces are moved and displayed at City Hall for another month. We love showing off the amazing talent of the residents of South Jordan!

Arts at the Gale – Throughout the year, the Arts Council provides free evening workshops in different art disciplines, including: theater, writing, quilting, origami, etc. The Arts Council is always looking for new ideas to bring to the workshops.

Currently the Arts Council is working with the City to wrap utility boxes near City Park, with vinyl-wraps of artist’s work. These boxes are expected to be wrapped and displayed in time for Stage 4 of Tour of Utah.

So toss, tip, or take off your cap to the South Jordan Arts Council!

We also have year-round events such as the monthly house concerts and the 3rd Annual Story Crossroads Festival that will be on May 23, 2018.