FARMINGTON — “We never tell stories at home anymore!” The members of Western Maine Storytelling hear this lament over and over again, and they are on a crusade to reverse the trend.

Western Maine Storytelling has started the crusade by sponsoring “A Community Celebration of Stories!,” a series of workshops and informal story swaps in Livermore Falls, Wilton, Farmington and Rangeley.

Storyteller Jo Radner gave a free workshop, “How to Recall and Tell Our Family Stories,” on May 18 at Treat Memorial Library, Livermore Falls. One participant was surprised “how prompts, sometimes just one word, brought back a flood of memories.”

As a follow-up, participants returned to tell their tales. “Sharing Our Stories: A Community Celebration” was held June 1 at Treat Memorial Library, 56 Main St., Livermore Falls.

The schedule for upcoming workshops and story swaps is:

Thursday, June 15: Workshop at Wilton Free Public Library, 104 Main St., Wilton, 7 to 8:30 p.m.;

Saturday, June 17: Workshop at Farmington Public Library, 117 Academy St., Farmington, 10 to 11:30 a.m.;

Thursday, June 29: Story swap at Wilton Free Public Library, 7 to 8:30 p.m.;

Saturday, July 8: Story swap at Farmington Public Library, 10 to 11:30 a.m.;

Tuesday, Aug. 29: Workshop at Rangeley Public Library, 7 Lake St., Rangeley, 6 to 7:30 p.m.;

Saturday, Sept. 9: Story swap at Rangeley Public Library, 10 to 11:30 a.m.

A grand finale storytelling event will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 10, at the University of Maine at Farmington, The Landing, Olsen Student Center, 111 South Street. More details will be available later.

Aimed at adults, the free 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.

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.”

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 Radner, “but we hunger for the simple give-and-take of telling and listening to stories.”

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

Radner 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, westernmainestorytelling.org.

Jo Radner


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