Cap’s Off to You!–Lowe’s and Last-Minute Kindness and Celebrating Story

lowWe cheered when the 2017 Story Crossroads Festival took place at the Murray City Park.  The trees are huge and the gentle sound of the waters brought about the best ambiance for storytelling.  Then, we discovered that only one of the three pavilions for the performances had a nice stage.  Karl Behling had a friend who had one made out of pallets.  That meant we had one more to do.  We wanted our professional story artists as well as the community tellers to enjoy at least a bit of a raised stage.  Some nice neighbors donated two pallets.  Yet, we needed a solid board for the top of these pallets plus the black spray paint.

I headed to the Lowe’s in West Jordan, Utah and found the board…but it so happened that the cutting saw was out of commission for an unknown length of time.  They recommended the Lowe’s in South Jordan.  This West Jordan one said to say that the board could be given for free to support Story Crossroads.

Then the thought occurred to me…I did not have a van or truck to carry the board that was needed for this homemade stage.  This was the day before the Festival.  I posted the need for a van or truck on Facebook.  I got a response from a neighbor (and my aunt, though my neighbor was closer).

Once the board was cut at the South  Jordan Lowe’s, I grabbed the black spray paint and a couple tools to get the job done.  I knew the board would be free.  When I got to the register, the General Manager said, “Oh, all of that will be free, too.”  I thanked them and promised that this gesture of kindness would not be forgotten.  Now you can remember with us.

Learn more about Lowe’s here:

So toss, tip, or take off your cap to Lowe’s!

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.

Cap’s Off to You!-Utah Valley University and Celebrating Story

Utah Valley University - Dr. Dale Boam and students - imageFrom the inaugural year of Story Crossroads, we have had the connection with the Utah Valley University.  Dr. Dale H. Boam made that possible.  He is the tenured Associate Professor of Deaf Studies at UVU and attorney advocating for persons who are Deaf.  As he is a nationally certified ASL interpreter, he has graced many stages including the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival.  He is always acting on his feet.  Even preparation cannot account for what will come out of a storyteller’s mouth.  He imparts this knowledge with his students in Deaf Studies.  We have been pleased that UVU, through Dr. Boam, has helped with our ASL interpretation.  Then, during our second year, UVU became a funder for Story Crossroads.

We are on the brink of sharing the “Language of Story: Visual Language on Stage” that is part of our Academic Series.  Each year, we will explore languages through the eyes of storytelling with professors who delve into these topics.  As our first one was on visual language, we opted for closed captioning to be ever-present when the video is played.

To have this film, we needed funding and Utah Valley University assisted as well as Utah Humanities and the South Jordan Arts Council.

Dr. Dale Boam, in this film, said, “I want Story Crossroads at my funeral.”  He then explained that he loved the gradual growth of the event and wants to take part until the day he dies.  Those were kind words that we will cherish always…and will aim to fulfill.

The film is scheduled to be launched for the general public in February 2018.  You can subscribe to the Story Crossroads YouTube Channel or check back at the Story Crossroads website where we have videos.  You can also see the “Teaching Story” playlist on our channel by clicking here.

Utah Valley University is praised for this continuous relationship in languages and in funding of Story Crossroads.

Here are the mission and roles shared through Utah Valley University’s website: 



Utah Valley University is a teaching institution which provides opportunity, promotes student success, and meets regional educational needs. UVU builds on a foundation of substantive scholarly and creative work to foster engaged learning. The university prepares professionally competent people of integrity who, as lifelong learners and leaders, serve as stewards of a globally interdependent community.


As a regional state university, Utah Valley University:

Provides quality academic learning opportunities for students through programs at the certificate, associate, baccalaureate, and graduate levels. To encourage responsible citizenship, emphasis is placed on engaged teaching and learning as well as scholarly work, research, creative achievements, career and technical education, and community and professional engagement.

Provides access to higher education and offers a broad range of opportunities from developmental education through honors programs. The institution provides services designed to meet the educational and personal needs of students, to foster student success, to prepare students for meaningful lifework, and to provide access through a variety of modalities, including satellite campuses and the use of technology.

Promotes economic and cultural development to contribute to the quality of life of the region and state. The institution fosters economic development and provides a talent-force to meet the needs of a dynamic economy by offering credit and non-credit programs and services for individuals and organizations. UVU provides cultural experiences that enrich the community and offer significant and varied opportunities for continuous learning.

Learn more about the Utah Valley University here:


So toss, tip, or take off your cap to the Utah Valley University, Dr. Dale Boam, and all his Deaf Studies Students!

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.

Cap’s Off to You!-Western States Arts Federation and Celebrating Story

WESTAF-collageBefore Story Crossroads kicked off, the Western States Arts Federation had already impacted me on when I received a grant to attend the annual Arts Northwest Booking Conference along with a tandem storytelling partner, Holly Robison, to Eugene, Oregon.  WESTAF is one of the major partners of Arts Northwest.  We met a mentor in connection with this grant on how to build relationships with venue directors and fellow artists.  By recognizing WESTAF, we are also recognizing the National Endowment for the Arts provides the funds for the several grants to share with other arts groups.

WESTAF and NEA are praised nowadays for the three-time funding of Story Crossroads so we could bring out Christopher Agostino from New York (2016), Mara Menzies from Scotland  (2017), and Denise Valentine from Pennsylvania (2018) through the TourWest Grant.

Everyone in the office is so kind and supportive.  One year, I needed to convert a video into a certain format.  I thought I had done everything right to submit along with the grant.  I was mistaken and a lady at the office created a special note to the reviewers on how best to watch it.  Perhaps that was the year there was a new system for submitting grant applications online.  No matter the reason, I knew that was going above and beyond.  Then, to receive the grant itself despite my “technical difficulties” was a great boon.

WESTAF as an organization and as individuals celebrate diversity.  Story Crossroads and WESTAF have both enjoyed the amazing art that comes across cultures and generations.  We both aim to also see that diversity in the audience who comes.  WESTAF is aware of our efforts to build relations with the Blind and Deaf communities through audio descriptions and ASL interpretations.  We also have our posters and fliers in English and Spanish to reach out to the Hispanic populations in Salt Lake County and surrounding areas.


From the WESTAF website, here is a little more insight to their purpose and mission:

WESTAF (Western States Arts Federation) is a regional nonprofit arts service organization dedicated to strengthening the financial, organizational, and policy infrastructure of the arts in the West. WESTAF assists state arts agencies, arts organizations, and artists in their quest to serve diverse audiences, enrich the lives of local communities, and provide access to the arts and arts education for all. Through innovative programming, advocacy, research, technology, and grantmaking, WESTAF encourages the creative advancement and preservation of the arts regionally and through a national network of customers and alliances.

Founded in 1974, WESTAF is located in Denver and governed by a 22-member board of trustees comprised of arts leaders in the West. WESTAF serves the largest constituent territory of the six U.S. regional arts organizations and includes Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawai’i, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

Learn more about the Western States Arts Federation here:

You can see WESTAF’s Arts Northwest Booking Conference here:

Starting December 18, 2017, the WESTAF office is transitioning to a new location so we feel this is a timely shout-out for the new address will be:  1888 Sherman Street, Suite 375, Denver, CO 80203.

So toss, tip, or take off your cap to the Western States Arts Federation!

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.

Cap’s Off to You!-Utah Division of Arts & Museums and Celebrating Story

UDAM collage imageThe Utah Division of Arts and Museums (UDAM) has made it possible to bring professional story artists for the Story Crossroads Festival such as Christopher Agostino from New York, Mara Menzies from Scotland, and, in 2018, Denise Valentine from Pennsylvania.  All three times has been through the OnStage in Utah grant.  As the UDAM distributes funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, we also give the NEA credit.

We have been pleased to receive funding three years in a row.  People from the UDAM have said that we have chosen strong artists and are pleased with how Story Crossroads is growing and evolving.

Some of this outlook and guidance can turn back to the Change Leader program created and promoted by UDAM.  Rachel Hedman became a certified Change Leader along with several other professional storytellers when they attended three-day institutes followed by completing a project that showed change in the community.  Although many of the participants are connected to arts organizations, several are also part of civic, education, and individual businesses.  Over 200 projects have been completed by current Change Leaders…with more in the works.

When Story Crossroads existed simply as the idea named “World Story Conference,” the first Community Planning Meeting in June 2014 used what was learned during the Change Leader institute such as assessing needs, wants, beliefs, and emotions.  Everyone in attendance had post-it notes for each of those four categories so to blend ideas and to collaborate.  We were honored to have Hilary Amnah attend that June meeting on behalf of UDAM as well as 27 other civic, educational, and arts leaders.

Besides grants and the Change Leader Program, the following is also provided or offered by UDAM (as listed on their website):

The UDAM goals are to:

  • Increase awareness and understanding of the public value of arts and culture
  • Cultivate and formalize strategic partnerships
  • Foster education and lifelong participation in arts and culture
  • Nurture creativity and technological innovation in arts and culture
  • Invest in communities by strengthening the arts and cultural infrastructure
  • Improve access to opportunities and resources through efficient delivery of services

Learn more about the Utah Division of Arts and Museums and the Change Leader Program here:

So toss, tip, or take off your cap to the Utah Division of Arts and Museums!

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.

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


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.