DRUM ROLL…2019 A TO Z BLOG CHALLENGE THEME REVEAL (STARTING APRIL 1)

AtoZ2019ThemeTime 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). This is our fourth year participating in this challenge.

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THEME: Golden…And All Things that Glimmer

All Aboard!  Utah celebrates its 150th Anniversary with the Transcontinental Railroad on May 10, 1869 at Promontory Summit, Utah Territory. The 2019 Story Crossroads Festival has the privilege of receiving the Spike 150 grant through the Utah Department of Heritage and Arts as well as many other funding shared below. This connection of the East and West began another phase in history and ended the Pioneer Era.  The Last Spike was 17.6-karat gold that couldn’t even be pounded in despite Leland Stanford’s efforts. The telegraph had to officially send out “DONE” for everyone to know around the world.

That golden spike brought about celebrations as well as traumatic changes. In one famous painting of the Transcontinental Railroad, a Native American is depicted turning away as this would change everything for tribes across the nation.  The coming of the trains meant the near extinction of the bison, a huge food and supply source for the Indigenous People.

Gold does not always signal forth great blessings.  Sometimes gold is a curse.  Other times, as with the Transcontinental Railroad, gold represents a blessing and a curse.

With our A to Z Blog Challenge posts, we will explore folk tales, fairy tales, legends, myth, and epics that involve gold.  Determine for yourself when gold is a blessing, a curse, or both.

We will delve into golden tools, weapons, animals, mythological beasts, foods, plants, anatomy, and the unexpected.

Golden Tools and Weapons:

Spike (that inspired the whole A to Z Challenge); Axe; Spears; Spinning Wheel

Golden Animals and Mythological Beasts:

Bird; Calf; Duck; Fish; Pony; Qilin (mythical hooved Chinese chimerical creature); Serpent; Snail; Swan

Golden Fruits and Vegetables:

Apples; Oranges; Cucumber; Feast/Food; Star Fruit Tree; Tree

Golden Anatomy:

Arm; Gizzard; Hair/Hairs; Hand; Mouth; Scales

Golden…well…What You Might Not Expect:

City; Fleece; Flute; Godmother; Hairpin; Key; Maiden; Mountain; Nugget; Ring; Reed Pipe; Shoe; Table; Touch

And More Surprises!

While you enjoy this blog, Story Crossroads has year-round offerings including the culminating Festival on May 15, 2019 (see schedule here: https://storycrossroads.com/2019-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, the Utah Department of Heritage and Arts, and many other individuals. Join us in the support by attending or donating or both! (Click here to go directly to donation page.)

We also have year-round events such as the monthly house concerts and the 4th Annual Story Crossroads Festival that will be on May 15, 2019.

Reflections & Complete Listing–A to Z Blog Challenge

A-to-Z Reflection [2018]StorycrossroadsLogo--more squareWe were pleased to participate in the A to Z Blog Challenge (http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/).  The Story Crossroads theme for this year was Kindness Across  Cultures: Stories to Prove We Care.  Below is the complete A to Z listing.

So now to reflect…

I have enjoyed each of the four years that we have participated in the A to Z Blog Challenge.  There were plenty of struggles and always a few posts that barely make it before midnight.  Yet, being able to not only post that many times AND on a topic of kindness…it was awe-inspiring.

Awe-inspiring to be affirmed that the world is full of kindness.

Awe-inspiring to be affirmed that all cultures reflect kindness in their traditional stories.

Awe-inspiring to learn about countries and cultures that I had never heard of before and now I feel connected like I never did before.

Each of the six major continents were represented.  Several different faiths were showcased including my own, which was nerve-striking yet satisfying.  I purposely chose some war-torn countries.  Those stories from those places was the most powerful to me of all for I know that most people are amazing and thoughtful.  Sometimes kindnesses are small and simple and sometimes kindnesses encompass ultimate sacrifices of time, money, and life.  The Ethiopian story touches on a kindness not often celebrated–of showing kindness to enemies, those who would use and abuse you.

I did find it amusing at how much easier it was to find kindness stories in some cultures as it was for others.  It was a little harder to find kindness stories in Caucasian-dominant cultures. Some stories had great potential and then turned bad, and I mean extremely bad.  I noticed that a lot of Latin American stories had this overall feeling that good eventually gets punished.  I found wonderful Latin American one from Peru.

For the first time since the other challenges, I had several posts “scheduled” for 7:00am MST.  It was a relief to know that those posts would easily make the deadlines.  Perhaps for 2019, I will “schedule” more of them in advance and my challenge will really be March instead of April…though time will only tell.

In the meantime, enjoy this complete listing from this A to Z Blog Challenge.

By the way, thanks to your kindness in reading (and commenting).

Complete Listing – Kindness Across Cultures – Stories to Prove We Care

A = Afghanistan Affection & Altruism (Hired Hands)

B = Buddhist Benevolence & Big-Heartedness (Monkey King’s Bridge)

C = Chinese Charitableness & Care (The Girl and the Waterfall)

D= Damascus Devotion & Delight (The Power of Song, Syria)

E= Ethiopian Equanimity & Endurance (Shield of Kindness)

F= Filipino Fidelity & Forgiveness (Bridge of Flowers)

G= German Generosity & Goodness, (Grimms’ Golden Goose)

H= Hindu Harmoniousness & Humility (The Ideal Son, Sukrama)

I= Irish Intuition & Interconnectedness (Jack and His Companions)

J= Jewish Joy & Judiciousness (The Secret of the Innkeeper’s Blessings)

K= Kenyan Kindness & Keenness (How the Ostrich got its Long Neck)

L= LDS Love & Loyalty (10,000 Stripling Warriors)

M= Mosul Magnanimity & Mercy (Sparrow’s Wife, Iraqi tale)

N= Navajo Nobleness & Neighborliness (Little Dawn Boy and the Rainbow Trail)

O= Orkney Open-handedness & Oneness (Kate Crackernuts, Scottish)

P= Peru Peacefulness & Patience (Legend of Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo)

Q= Qatari Quality & Quick-Wittiness (Qatari Fsaijrah and the Magic fish)

R= Russian Respectfulness & Resilience (Vasilissa the Fair)

S= Swazi Sweetness & Sacrifice (The Collared Crow)

T= Torres Strait Thoughtfulness & Tenderness (Bia)

U= Ukraine Understanding & Unselfishness (The Birds’ Gift)

V= Vietnam Valance & Valor (The Legend of the Mia Flower)

W= Winnebago Warm-heartedness & Wholesomeness (The Orphan Who Was Blessed with a Horse)

X= Xhosa Xenial & Xenodochial (The Hare and the Tree Spirit, South Africa)

Y= Yonder Yukon Yoke-fellowship & Yarn-listening (The Orphan and the Polar Bear, Inuit)

Z= Zimbabwe Zeroth & Zenith (Children of Wax)

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.

Y is for Yonder Yukon Yoke-fellowship & Yarn-listening–A to Z Blog Challenge

Inuit boy by SashaY 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.

Yonder Yukon are the Northwest Territories and Nunavut of Canada where the majority of people from the Inuit Tribe live.  Though, Yukon itself is called home by some Inuits.  Traditional Inuits believe in spirits found in all living beings, which reflects on the value of sharing and reaching out in kindness to all–from the smallest of insects to the mightiest of animals and to people of all backgrounds.  Here is a picture of an Inuit boy taken by Sasha Leahovcenco.

Present-Day Yoke-fellowship & Yarn-listening

Tungasuvvingat Inuit is a not-for-profit organization that has a majority of Inuit who provide the service to fellow Inuits of urban or non-urban areas.  These people are made aware of their rights legally and what can help them economically.  The Board of Directors are all volunteers and have a passion for helping the Inuit people from schooling, hospital needs, lawyers, and employment.  You can learn more about this organization here:  https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/tungasuvvingat-inuit/.

Past Yoke-fellowship & Yarn-listening (Folktale)

This Inuit tale is found in the picture book “The Orphan and the Polar Bear” retold by Sakiasi Qalinaq, published by Inhabit Media, Inc.

Although not shared in summary form here, another story of interest is called “Old Woman who was Kind to Insects.”  Find that link to the story here:  https://www.learningtogive.org/resources/old-woman-who-was-kind-insects.

Here is a summary of “The Orphan and the Polar Bear”:

An orphan lived with his grandmother though often went out with the men to hunt along the ice.  Each time, the men left the boy behind and the boy had to find his own way home.  One day, the boy heard someone behind him and it was a huge polar bear that then transformed into a man that spoke to the boy.  This man felt pity for the boy and wanted to show a kindness by teaching the boy how to be independent and be able to have skills to survive.  The man changed back into a polar bear.  The polar bear took the boy to his village of bears and gave the boy a harpoon and taught how to use it.  As time went on, one of the bears in the village would wait for the boy to catch a seal and steal the catch.  The kind polar bear told the boy that he needed to confront the bear and use his harpoon.  The boy followed the instructions and stood up for himself the next time his catch was to be stolen.  The boy returned to the polar bear village and went to his kind friend.  The mean polar bear roared for the boy though the kind polar bear told the boy to stay inside the igloo and not to go out until the mean polar bear was done yelling.  Finally, the boy was encouraged to face the mean polar bear and by then the mean polar bear had great respect for the boy and gave back the harpoon that the boy had used against this polar bear.  The boy was never bothered by this polar bear or any other polar bear again.  When the boy learned all that he could from the kind polar bear, the polar bear journeyed with the boy back to the human world.  The boy grew to be a strong young man who could survive and choose to be kind than to be cruel.

Interesting Notes on Kindness  

  • The polar bear had love for the boy and offered skills to improve the boy’s chances of survival
  • The kind polar bear knew it was better for the boy wait than to face the angry polar bear so that respect and peace could be had
  • The polar bear continued to teach for an undetermined amount of time until he felt like the boy could be successful
  • The polar bear was willing to sacrifice and part with the boy as he knew it was best for the boy to be back in the human world
  • The boy grew to be a man which included the ability to be kind

What stories of kindness do you know associated with Yukon or Yonder with the Inuits?  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.

X is for Xhosa Xenial & Xenodochial–A to Z Blog Challenge

Xhosa WomenX 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.

Xhosa is a language and a people who are the second largest ethnic group in South Africa right after the Zulus.  At least a dozen kinds of clicks are part of this language.  Nelson Mandela sought for peace in a troubled land and came from Xhosa.  These Xhosa women are having great laughs and is seen on the South African Explored website here:  https://www.sa-venues.com/language-xhosa.htm.

Present-Day Xenial & Xenodochial

The Ubuntu Cultural Festival celebrates humanity by bringing many tribes together and sharing the traditional dances, songs, and stories of each area. Though, it is more than entertainment and strives to educate through inspirational speakers on the following topics as listed on their website:  prevention of community crime/violence, teenage pregnancy, substance abuse, women/child rape/abuse, xenophobia, rhino poaching, importance of education and more.  Explore this Festival’s website here:  http://xhosaculture.co.za/ubuntu-cultural-festival/.  You can also see an article about the inaugural event on August 27, 2016 here:  http://xhosaculture.co.za/ubuntu-cultural-festival/.

Past Xenial & Xenodochial (Folktale)

Although the book is titled “Nelson Mandela’s Favorite African Folktales,” it is fitting that the story “The Hare and the Tree Spirit” is from Xhosa of where he originated.  Most of the other tales in this book are from many different countries and tribes.  As can be figured out from the title, the author–or who retold these tales–was Nelson Mandela and this link is to a reprint published by W. W. Norton & Company.

Here is a summary:

An old woman tripped on a broken pot on the path.  She cursed that whoever left that broken pot would have their firstborn struck dumb and the only way to break the curse was for someone to be as foolish. A hard-working couple happened to accidentally leave that broken pot and their only child–a daughter named Tembe–was struck dumb. Although they consulted with medicine men, no one had an answer as to why it happened or how to release the curse.  The girl still grew up to be beautiful and kind, though not a word escaped her lips.  The hard-working couple were worried that despite her beauty, no one would marry their daughter.  No one did want to marry her except a young man named Nthu.  Before asking to marry her, he wanted her to be released from the curse. He walked to an euphorbia tree and poured out his wishes to it, hoping that the spirits of the tree would gran t his request. Mvundla the Hare happened to have his home under that tree and was awoken by all the pleading.  The Hare responded in a deep voice as if it was a tree spirit.  The Hare said he would think about Nthu’s wish if vegetables and berries were left at the bottom of the tree every day.  Nthu did as was desired.  Though, the longer that Nthu did this kindness, the more guilty that Hare felt in not fulfilling the wish.  Finally, Hare hopped to the Tembe’s home and investigated. The girl planted millet seedlings and did not notice the Hare.  To gain the girl’s attention, he followed the girl and re-planted her millet seedlings upside down.  The girl turned to do the next row, saw the foolish way the Hare had planted, and spoke for the first time to chastise the Hare.  When she realized she had spoken, she laughed and ran to talk to her parents after so many years of not being able to do so.  The Hare knew he would not get a thank you though knew it was only a matter of time before Nthu would stop giving him vegetables and berries.

Interesting Notes on Kindness  

  • Great unfairness can come to the most kind yet life still goes on
  • The girl’s beauty and kindness was enough for Nthu though he thought more about her than for his sake on having her voice return
  • Nthu sought to help and turned to what he thought would have enough power or abilities to accomplish the deed
  • Hare, although still the trickster, turns it into a kind deed
  • Receiving kindness long enough can eventually change someone’s heart such as it did for Hare when receiving those vegetables and berries for so long
  • Kindness is not always thanked yet still makes all the difference to the recipient (and assumed the giver of the kindness)

What stories of kindness do you know associated with Xhosa or South Africa?  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.

W is for Winnebago Warm-heartedness & Wholesomeness–A to Z Blog Challenge

Ho-Chunk Nation - regalia pictureW 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.

Winnebago tribe is known by many names including “Hotcak” or “Ho-Chunk” which both mean “People of the Big Voice or People of the Parent Speech” or “Wonkshieks” which means “First People of the Old Island.”  This meaning is much better than “Winnebago” that means “smelly waters” and was the name often used by a neighboring tribe of the Algonquin. Most people of this tribe prefer “Ho-Chunk” and is what is recognized on a federal level.  This picture of the Ho-Chunk people in regalia was officially sent by the Ho-Chunk Nation as a way to educate people on what is authentic.  You can follow the Ho-Chunk Nation on Twitter here:  https://twitter.com/HoChunkNationPR.

Present-Day Warm-heartedness & Wholesomeness

One of the oldest pow wows are hosted through the Winnebago Pow Wow.  In 2017, it celebrated 151 years of bringing together over 70 tribes to be unified and yet recognize each other’s cultures.  More on this event can be seen here:  https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/culture/pow-wows/2017-winnebago-homecoming-celebration-pow-wow-celebrates-151st-year/. With people coming together, friendships strengthen and benefits the whole nation.  Wait until the 2018 Pow Wow comes around…and see the smiles lengthen as people embrace the different traditions.

Past Warmheartedness & Wholesomeness (Folktale)

This Winnebago/Hotcak/Ho-Chunk/Wonkshiekse folktale called “The Orphan Who Was Blessed With A Horse” is found here:  http://www.firstpeople.us/FP-Html-Legends/TheOrphanWhoWasBlessedWithAHorse-Winnebago.html.

Many more of this same culture are found as part of the First People – The Legends website along with many other tribes here:  http://www.firstpeople.us/.

Here is a summary:

A boy was known as “Little Orphan” and lived with his grandmother. Everyone made fun of him except for his grandmother.  Despite the incessant teasing, the boy remained kind and respectful.  One day, his grandmother wished for the boy to receive a dream from the spirits, the Thunders, which required fasting from food and drink for many days.  Four times he fasted four days and four nights and nearly killed him.  After many years, the boy continued these fastings to receive a dream.  Finally, he made it to a fifth day of fasting but was thirsty that he headed to a spring. At the spring was a horse dying of fatigue and ribs showing.  The boy brought water and grass to the horse and cared for its coat.  The boy told his grandmother how he did not have a dream though did take care of the horse. The grandmother said that one should always care for those who cannot care for themselves and was pleased with the boy’s actions.  The horse never regained its beauty though did receive its health again.  Then one day, word spread in the village that a great herd of buffalo were near and among them was an all-white holy buffalo.  There would be a contest on who can get the skill of that white buffalo.  The winner would receive the yugiwi (princces) hand in marriage. The boy vowed to get the white buffalo.  He fed even more grass in preparation and was so quiet that the boy heard a voice call him nephew and asked why the silence. The boy did not know what talked but them asked the horse if it had spoke. It was the horse, and the horse said the boy would get the white buffalo. The next day, everyone rushed upon their horses but the boy was so fast on his horse that he brought back the white buffalo skin before anyone else could go far. Everyone rejoiced for their was much meat to eat. The horse said that if the boy looked towards the sunset, he would discover who the horse really was and so the boy did. In the clouds he saw a white horse and knew he had been blessed by the Thunderbirds.

Interesting Notes on Kindness  

  • The boy was kind no matter how he was treated by others in the village
  • The grandmother taught the boy about kindness and complimented and encouraged the boy when he was kind to the horse
  • The boy did not hesitate to help the horse and looked after every need
  • The horse/Thunderbird repaid the boy’s kindness and dedication through the gift of the white buffalo’s skin

What stories of kindness do you know associated with the Winnebago/Hotcak/Ho-Chunk/Wonkshieks?  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 as well as free performances from 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.