Some of our members wished to share why they love storytelling and the Detroit Story League. We hope that these testimonials will encourage you to join us at a meeting or event, because storytelling is something that must be expereinced to fully appreciate!
Chrissy Begle, DSL Vice President
Storytelling made me a better teacher and gave me more self-confidence. I joined the Detroit Story League because I enjoyed listening to the stories, but my storytelling began before then.
I knew that I was a storyteller when my preschool students asked me, "Tell us a story, not with a book, with your mouth!" It began in high school, I was in a preschool lab class in which the high school students were teachers to preschool students ages 2-4. One of my classmates invited her mother, Linda Day, a Detroit Story League member, to come to the class to demonstrate storytelling, and I was enthralled as the preschool students. Her performance was so memorable that a few years later, when I was working in a daycare, I began telling one of the stories that she had told, as I remembered it.
I discovered that the children were hungry for this kind of storytelling, and that they didn't know many of the old folktales, like "The Gingerbread Man," "The Three Little Pigs," or "The Billy Goats Gruff." So I fashioned my own stories in Linda Day's style, using rhythm, repetition, and interaction, and told them in my classroom. I soon learned that children as young as two years old would sit quietly for ten minutes or more, listening to these stories, without a book or props! Storytelling was magic!
The more that I told, the more that I found elements of storytelling creeping into my teaching style. Even during a math activity, I could command attention more effectively, or regain wandering attention, with tricks learned from storytelling. Even walking my class of 2.5-year-olds down the hallway became easier when I applied storytelling precepts to my behavior management techniques.
I joined the Detroit Story League when a fellow choir member asked me to come to a meeting where I instantly fell in love with the stories and the members. The first story that I told at a meeting was the story that I had learned from Linda Day, and it was in that telling that we realized our previous connection! Linda was very nice about telling her story without permission, and became my mentor, helping me grow as a storyteller. She has passed away since, but I still think, "What would Linda do?" as I am preparing my stories.
Besides serving as Vice-president, I have also served as recording secretary, and I am the league's unofficial graphic designer, making the website, signs, fliers, programs, and other print publicity items. The Detroit Story League is chock full of warm, welcoming, and appreciative members, making it a joy to serve. Meetings are a time to relax with friends, listen to entertaining stories, and be a part of something fulfilling and just a little magical.
When I tell people that I am a storyteller, people are often confused about what that means. Most people picture someone telling stories to children with a book. I explain that we tell without the aid of a book, and usually without props, relying on our voices, gesture, facial expressions, and other techniques. We tell to children and adults, in schools, nursing homes, libraries, and sometimes on stage. We tell folktales, historical fiction (or non-fiction), personal narratives, or whatever the teller is interested in.
Still, many people remain a little confused about why we tell. Everyone tells stories, I tell them, whether around the water-cooler, in a classroom, or on the stage. The power of storytelling is in the connection between the storyteller and the audience, and the story is created between them.
Sometimes storytelling is best experienced, rather than explained, so I hope that you come to a few meetings or one of our annual events. You may find the storytelling calling to your blood, too, whether just to listen, or maybe even to learn how to tell.
Sylvia Brown has been a member of DSL since circa 1987. She grew up in a time when radio was the main source of communication, no internet or cell phones. She grew up learning to listen and listen carefully.
She is a retired librarian. She loves stories and books! Everyone has a story to tell!
Please just give it a try!
Verne Brown loves Detroit Story League because I love the late Linda Day and Elaine for their help and support with Story Lab formerly known as Cric Crac.
It is great to be with people who truly love STORYTELLING! My long term goal in DSL is to tell a different version of the It was the Night Before Christmas. Ding Sharp is the great great granddaughter of C. Moore. He wrote The Night Before Christmas.
My mother has purchased for me The Night Before Christmas in Chicago, The Librarian's Night Before Christmas and The Golfer's Night Before Christmas, etc.
I am currently writing The Night Before Christmas in the "D" aka Motown aka Detroit. I plan on serving cookies and milk on late Doris Cooney's Christmas dishes as I tell the Cajun version of It was the Night Before Christmas.
Yours in DSL and Story Lab,
As I reflect over my life I remember attending a storytelling program many years ago at a church in Detroit, Michigan. Gathered were men and women of diverse cultures and ages. I remember the genuine hospitality of the group and their commitment to storytelling. I was amazed how the storytellers captured the minds and hearts of the audience as they listened intensely to 5-15 minute stories. I walked away feeling I wasn’t ready for that arena.
However, now being a member of the group for four years, I gaze at the storytellers with those same eyes appreciating the preparation that is needed to have a presentation of quality delivered to the audience. Because of them, I have performed and attended several conferences and workshops; learned techniques and incorporated them in stories. I have had the opportunity to share in a variety of venues for young and old. This is thru the inspiration of Detroit Story League.
After joining the organization, affectionately called DSL, I joined two tutorial groups. They are Story Lab, sessions where members test stories in a small group setting, and Parent Tellers, a group of storytellers from the Metropolitan Detroit Area evaluating each other and share stories to the students in Warren, Michigan. Each group meets in a relaxed setting that not only allows me to network with the members but learn storytelling tidbits from new and seasoned storytellers.
My occupation as a librarian made the transition easier of selecting materials, but I had to realize that being persistent, educating oneself in the art of storytelling and applying the techniques has made the journey in storytelling worthwhile.
Judy Sima, DSL President
I joined Detroit Story League in December of 1988. Back then, you had to attend three meetings before you were “allowed” to join. I knew from my first meeting that I wanted to be a member – I had caught the Storytelling bug, and was eager to be part of a group of people who loved storytelling as much as I did. At my third meeting, I wanted to tell a story for the group and had to be voted in before I could tell it. Everyone else at the meeting told Christmas stories, but I told a short ghost story because it was the only one I knew. I’ll never forget Alice Glotzhober telling “The Best Worst Christmas Pageant Ever” and Dinghy Sharp telling the Cajon version of “The Night Before Christmas.” (Clement C. Moore was Dinghy’s great, great, great, great grandfather).
I continue to be an active member of the League because I love the camaraderie, the stories, the generosity, and the joy of being with people who have become like family to me. In my enthusiasm and being the people connector that I am, I brought many people to the Story League and reveled in their growth as storytellers and ability to take on leadership roles. In Story League, we not only tell stories and participate in workshops, we learn about upcoming storytelling events in the area, and sign get well and condolence cards. We live up to our motto of “Service through storytelling” by sending members to schools, senior, and religious groups who might not be able to afford a professional storyteller. I am proud that we produce two wonderful concerts for the community each year – one for adults and one for children. We also provide a scholarship once a year to any member wishing to attend an outside storytelling workshop or conference. The scholarship winner then shares what he or she learned with the membership. Two years ago we hosted a Gathering of Michigan Storytellers which attracted over 50 storytellers from across the State.
For the past five years, I’ve enjoyed being President of the Story League. I often kid about finding a replacement, but I have officers and committee chairs that take their roles seriously. Members are always willing to bring people to our events, sell tickets, bake cookies and bring items for our annual Silent Auction. And even though we believe in storytelling as a service to the community, the membership has supported and applauded my career as a professional storyteller. Being a Detroit Story League member has not only helped me grow as a storyteller, but also helped me reach my potential as a story leader.
Loretta Pinzani Vitek
I believe that everyone is born a storyteller. When I joined the Detroit Story League, I was introduced to a diverse group of new friends - excellent storytellers all. Listening to different DSL storytellers and watching workshops on storytelling has enhanced and improved my storytelling and given me the opportunity to practice and improve my skills. Besides being helpful, DSL is also a great deal of fun! Because as we know "there is always a story! And it would be a shame not to share them!"
Former Member Testimonials
“FAREWELL AND WELCOME” from Trudy Bulkley to Current and Prospective Members of Detroit Story League September 2017
I have been a member of the Detroit Story League for over twenty years. With sadness and enormous gratitude, I’m saying “good-bye” to this unique organization. I’d like to record here what this membership has meant to me. I need to say farewell to current members whose friendship I so value. I thank them for all their input and support. I also want to encourage prospective new members by giving them the benefits of my experience.
In 1994, at almost 52 years of age, I discovered that I wanted to be Mother Goose. Yes, a living, walking, talking, rhyme-reciting, legendary Mother Goose. How that revelation came about is another story. But, finally, and, for sure, I knew what I wanted to do when I grew up. The big question in my mind was how to do it. My membership in the Detroit Story League became central to answering that question. I wanted to be Mother Goose, but first I had to learn how to tell stories. I had to join the storytelling world, not just step out of a book!
When I told my first story as a new member of the DSL, the audience was sympathetic and attentive. Many must have remembered their butterflies when they were novices. Others knew that it would be their turn next. Everyone knew how natural and how difficult it was, all at the same time, to tell a good story, aloud and to a live audience. Beyond the monthly meetings there was an opportunity to be part of a Cric-Crac group. Here, we met in each other’s homes. Each of us had a turn to tell a story, to pick it apart, to benefit from always tactful criticism or we could simply talk through an idea of a story that we were working on. We adopted the League’s monthly format by bringing our own lunches, and the host provided dessert and a beverage. Truly, we weren’t coming just for the food. We came for the fellowship and the learning that accrued.
The League provided opportunities to tell with others when community requests for a storyteller came to the League’s Story Bureau. League members were generous in their recommendations of venues or contacts. If I had a project I was working on, I felt comfortable in contacting League members to help me. I live in Ann Arbor but I had opportunities to know people and places in the greater metropolitan Detroit area and southeast Michigan. What a richness.
I also became an active participant in the mechanics of the organization. It became apparent that this amazing group of people weren’t sustained by magic, but rather from the concerted efforts of volunteer leaders who worked away and also welcomed help.
I have grown immeasurably as a person and as a storyteller through my membership in the League. It is with sadness that I pen this “good-bye” and it is with equal hope that I say to potential new members, “JOIN”. You have a lot to learn and a lot to give. It is an organization that has gone on for 100 years and hopefully will continue for 100 more. Good stories help frame our world and can make it thrive. Sharing stories is good for everyone.