Saturday, December 22, 2007

National Storytelling Network

I'm the Kansas liaison to the National Storytelling Network. I often forget this, as I'm a mediocre liaison. My job is to connect the storytellers and other interested folks in Kansas with the National Storytelling Network and vice-versa. Also, I try to keep Kansas storytellers apprised of related events happening around the state and the country. The main way I do this is through the KS Storytelling yahoo group. (Feel free to sign up.)

So what's the National Storytelling Network and why should anybody join? This organization began in the 70s as the National Association for the Preservation and Perpetuation of Storytelling (NAPPS), briefly became the National Storytelling Association, and has been the National Storytelling Network for several years now. It is based in Jonesborough, Tennessee, but there are members around the country and the world.

You can get the official scoop on why to join on the NSN website, on the member benefits page. Like so many nonprofit organizations, NSN has some challenges ahead, and some of these benefits may change, but I'll remain a member no matter what.

I'll give you my reasons for having been a member since 1991.

I'm a member because this is a way I can hang out with other storytellers around the country, especially at the National Storytelling Conference and the National Storytelling Festival. Nota bene, these are two very different events. The conference is much smaller, around 400 people, and is made up mostly of workshops. The festival is all performance, all the time, with thousands of listeners.

I'm a member because I enjoy receiving Storytelling Magazine every couple of months. I like reading about what's going on around the country and the world in the field of storytelling.

I'm a member because I like being affiliated with an organization that knows what I do and doesn't try to squish it into some other artform, like theater or performance art.

I'm a member because NSN offers grant opportunities, discounts in its online store and on the conference--these directly affect my wallet.

I'm a member because I do believe we should preserve and perpetuate the art of storytelling, and it's easier for us to do this together than individually.

My friend Cynthia Changaris said it eloquently in a letter in 2006:
I belong to NSN because it has offered me a rich banquet of storytelling, storylearning, and connection to storytellers all over the world. My relationships and my life have been enriched immeasurably by my membership. I feel connected to the heart of storytelling and story because of my connection to NSN.
I agree. I definitely recommend joining the organization. Let me know if you have questions about NSN and I'll do my best to find answers.

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