I'm not a great group member, but there's one of which I've been a member since 1991: the National Storytelling Network. No, that's not exactly accurate. I began as a member of the National Association for the Preservation and Perpetuation of Storytelling, known as NAPPS. Then there was a divorce. That is, the organization split in two, with joint custody of the National Storytelling Festival. Now we have the International Storytelling Center and the National Storytelling Network, two worthy organizations.
I'm not just a member of NSN, I'm the Kansas Liaison to NSN. In maintaining a mailing list for Kansas storytellers (others are welcome), I pass along news from NSN and other storytelling organizations, I publicize other storytellers' events and I encourage folks to join NSN.
So why join NSN? Here are my reasons:
- This is the best organization in the country that represents storytelling. It's member-driven, not a top-heavy organization (there's a small staff, but tons of the work is done voluntarily by members).
- NSN publishes Storytelling Magazine quarterly. The magazine always has a guest editor who pulls together articles on a specific theme. I was guest editor a few years ago and can attest to the cat-herding aspect of getting storytellers to write about our artform. Somehow it works. The magazine is a rich source of inspiration and information on storytelling. I've saved every issue I've ever received.
- The NSN Conference is a gathering of the tribe, a place where storytellers gather to learn from each other, hang out together, listen and talk about what we love. This conference (different from the National Storytelling Festival, which is performance driven and held in Jonesborough TN every October) travels around the country. Next summer it will be in Los Angeles. Members get a good discount on conference registration.
- NSN has an excellent grants program. Lots of great projects have been funded through NSN grants. The Sponsored Member Program allows storytellers to use NSN as an umbrella nonprofit.
- There are lots of special interest groups of NSN, including Healing Story Alliance, Environmental Stories, Storytelling in Higher Education and more.
- NSN members can use the Greenwood World Folklore and Folklife Database for free. It's a huge resource!
- The NSN Directory is one more way I can get my name out into the world as a storyteller.
- NSN is the parent organization for Tellabration, the night of storytelling in November held all over the world. As a brand-new storyteller, I attended the very first Tellabration back in 1988 in Chester, CT and participated in the second and many subsequent events. This event reminds people that storytelling is NOT a dying art.
By the way, this is a great time to give a year-end donation to NSN. The organization can definitely use your help!