2009-10 Recipients Brimstone Award for Applied Storytelling

This year due to the excellent quality and diversity of the projects (in the fields of environment, business, medicine, college service and performing arts), the committee and funder determined that each had a particular merit and that four amazing projects should be funded.

The Brimstone Award for Applied Storytelling supports a model storytelling project that is service-oriented, based in a community or organization, and to some extent replicable in other places and situations. We are confident that the four projects above will inspire excellence in applied storytelling work and communicate to new audiences the humanitarian possibilities of storytelling.

$5000 to Stories for Environmental Stewardship: A QLF and Middle East Program for Coexistence
Project Director: Michael Caduto
Community Partner: Quebec-Labrador Foundation/Atlantic Center for the Environment

This is a multifaceted project involving partners in the Middle East who have already identified current environmental issues. Caduto has further identified and organized native storytellers in Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, and Palestine. They are to research, gather and record five traditional folktales from each country. Brimstone is funding the collection work. Ultimately, the stories will be published, along with field-tested activities that complement the stories. There will be free educational curriculum guides for the five participating countries.


$5000 to From the Fire in the Belly: Stories of Redwood Coast Entrepreneurs
Project Director: Margaret Gainer
Community Partner: Bayside Pride, Inc.

Gainer is a successful entrepreneur with a passion for the promotion of successful economic development in the rural, mountainous region of the Redwood coast. She created and hosted a series of events with 15 successful entrepreneurs, trained to speak about themselves and their experiences to potential future entrepreneurs. The events were well attended and effective. The 15 entrepreneurs have been recorded and their stories are currently being disseminated on http://www.fromthefire.org <http://www.fromthefire.org/> . Her goals were two-fold: (1) integrate storytelling into the Redwood Coast economic development work of recruiting, fostering, and supporting entrepreneurship and (2) record important business stories for future generations.


$5000 to Quiet No More: Giving Voice to At-Risk Youth through Storytelling, Youth-to-Youth Mentoring, and Service Learning
Project Director: Sandra M. Posey
Community Partners: Boys and Girls Club of Pomona Valley, California State Polytechnic University, and AmeriCorps Promise Volunteer

This service learning project trains college students at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, in storytelling, who then bring their skills to the local Boys and Girls Club to mentor at-risk youth and encourage them to create and share stories. This afterschool youth program will feature story-generating activities, story swaps, coaching, and positive reinforcement, and give children a means of creative expression in their community through both personal and folk narratives. The project will culminate in a performance for the community. Lessons learned will be shared through video, lesson plans, and a website.


$5000 to Using Improvised Storytelling to Strengthen Two Communities: Marginal Urban Youth and Patients with Life-Threatening Illness
Project Directors: Brent Sverdloff/Regina Saisi
Community Partner: BATS Improv-Center for Improvisational Theatre

BATS Improv has successfully taught improvised, collaborative storytelling techniques to a variety of underserved populations. Primary constituencies include (1) low-income and at-risk students from urban neighborhoods and (2) people with life-threatening or chronic illnesses. The Brimstone Award supported projects to continue this work.

45 elementary and middle school teachers in the San Francisco Bay Area received training on how to use collaborative storytelling on a regular basis in their classrooms, to develop skills in collaboration, creativity, and narrative. A collaborative blog allowed teachers to share their successes and challenges in the classroom with each other between the workshops.

Since 1998, BATS Improv’s Laughing Stock program has provided free improvisational theatre classes for people living with cancer, HIV, AIDS, Hepatitis C, kidney disease, and other chronic or life-threatening illnesses. The classes strengthen quality of life and promote emotional healing of patients, their caregivers, and medical staff through humor, physical activity, group interaction, risk-taking, and story-based imagination games—all in a safe, confidential, and supportive environment. Brimstone funds supported performances and workshops in conjunction with local care-giving organizations including the STOP AIDS project, Thrive, Shanti, and University of California San Francisco Cancer Center.

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