LIVERMORE FALLS — “We never tell stories at home anymore!” Members of Western Maine Storytelling hear this lament over and over again – and they are on a crusade to reverse the trend.

In this era of multitasking, tweeting, texting and other “social” media, broadcasting sometimes seems more common than conversation. “We communicate screen to screen more than face to face,” says storyteller Jo Radner, “but we hunger for the simple give-and-take of telling and listening to stories.”

Research has shown that reminiscence gives much more than pleasure: it connects strangers, strengthens the links between generations, and gives children a crucial sense of identity. Knowledge of family history has even been linked to better teen behavior and mental health.

Western Maine Storytelling will sponsor Radner’s workshop, “How to Recall and Tell Our Family Stories” from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 18, at Treat Memorial Library, 56 Main St.

Participants will learn foolproof ways to mine their own memories and interview their relatives for engaging stories. In pairs and small groups, they will practice finding, developing and telling their own tales.

“No one will be on the spot to perform,” says Radner, “but I guarantee that everyone will remember stories they want to share informally.”

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Aimed at adults, the workshop will benefit anyone interested in investigating or remembering past events, writing memoirs, researching family history or simply developing habits of meaningful conversation. Participants will leave with new ideas, new stories and a handout on techniques and resources.

The program is made possible by grants from the Maine Humanities Council and United Way of the Tri-Valley Area. 

WMS will also present a performance, “Sharing Our Stories: A Community Celebration,” at the library from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 1. Both events are free and open to the public.

Folklorist, storyteller, writer and oral historian, Radner creates personal tales and stories about the people of northern New England. In recent years she has helped various immigrant, refugee, and community groups collect their stories and fashion them into public presentations.

She is past president of the American Folklore Society and the National Storytelling Network. Retired from a teaching career at American University, she has been studying, teaching, telling and collecting stories most of her life. She lives in Lovell and can be reached at [email protected]

FMI: [email protected], 207-645-2982.

Jo Radner


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