2004-05 Recipients Brimstone Award for Applied Storytelling


Project Director, Will Hornyak

Living Streams is a 50-minute storytelling assembly program for kindergarten through sixth-grade students to educate them about the environment in which they live – specifically their local watersheds – and to teach them how to be wise and caring stewards of those watersheds. It includes participatory stories; questions and discussions about healthy watersheds; an online curriculum guide; a poster showing examples of simple actions we can take on behalf rivers and streams; and a CD of stories. The program provides a means to educate the largest number of students and teachers over the course of a school year.

The Brimstone Award provided storyteller, Will Hornyak, with much needed time for planning and preparation. Living Streams is one aspect of a long-term, ongoing environmental education program sponsored by the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services and supported by Portland public schools. The project’s learning “within a context” approach matches the vision of the 1991 landmark Oregon Educational Act for the 21st century. One Oregon educator commented that “the interactive nature of the program, combined with the power of personal choices and actions by students, will most certainly have a direct impact upon the health of rivers and streams.” The Living Streams Storytelling Assembly Program was performed in schools, community centers, and environmental festivals throughout the Portland area, and in Vancouver, Washington, as well.



Flint, MI
Project Director: Alfreda Harris

As part of the Flint, Michigan 2005 Sesquicentennial Celebration, the Alfred P. Sloan Museum, the Flint Cultural Center Corporation, community organizations, and local citizens explored the history of the city’s neighborhoods through storytelling, historical research, and an exhibition of photographs and artifacts. A View from the Front Porch is considered a model for revitalizing the civic pride of communities like Flint that have seen their prosperity and influence wane in a changing world market.

The Brimstone Award primarily supported the training of local citizens in the art of storytelling and story gathering, including youth who later interviewed community elders about their neighborhoods and members of the oldest African American church congregation in Flint. A large project, A View from the Front Porch received funding from numerous other local and national sources as well, all with the goal of “enriching the community and the collective memory for future generations.”



Northampton, MA
Project Director: Jennifer Jacobsen

Jennifer Jacobson’s belief in “small heroes” led her to create When Children Save the Day®, a visionary program that unites storytellers and schools in social action. Combining world folktales with narratives about real children who have made a difference in their communities, children engage in a service project—and in the process enhance both their self-esteem and language skills. When Children Save the Day® “leaves children empowered, teachers inspired, and communities with a better understanding of the importance of instilling in the next generation the ideals of stewardship.”

The Brimstone Award supported a five-month Residency at Crocker Farm Elementary School in Amherst, Massachusetts, among the city’s most socio-economically and culturally diverse schools. As their social service campaign, a classroom of third graders decided to raise funds to help endangered animals with a storytelling performance for the community. They learned storytelling techniques, practiced with their peers, and then presented their stories to an overflow crowd. Jacobson notes, “Watching the students transform from timid learners to powerful storytellers and activists in a community of learners and doers was the best part of all.”

Based on the success of the pilot in 2005, Jacobson has  incorporated When Children Save the Day® as a not-for-profit organization to offer the Residency to urban, rural, and inner-city children. The $2,500 Brimstone Award leveraged over $10,000 in contributed services from parents, business leaders, and artists, as well as additional grants to underwrite curriculum development and resource materials.

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