The National Storytelling Network is a membership organization made up of individuals and organizations involved in storytelling. Its mission is to advance all forms of storytelling within the community through promotion, advocacy and education.
A world in which all people value the power of storytelling and its ability to connect, inspire, and instill respect within our hearts and communities.
Responsive Innovation: Continuous adaptation of our work in response to changing and community needs.
Cultural Awareness and Engagement: Sensitivity and respect for diverse individuals and communities
Inclusion: Advancement of equity by elevating underrepresented voices.
Collaboration: Employing the power of storytelling as a way to support the missions of our partnering organizations.
Integrity: We act with transparency, honesty and sincerity.
Policy of Engaged Neutrality
It is from NSN’s Values — Responsive Innovation, Cultural Awareness and Engagement, Inclusion, Collaboration, and Integrity — that we draw the following policy:
The National Storytelling Network will not organizationally articulate or otherwise provide support for or opposition to any specific candidate for office, legislation (pending or finalized), or policy, apart from the advancement of the art of storytelling. We will instead seek to engage all people to tell and hear one another’s stories, with the expectation that the path to resolution is paved, in part, by empathy and respect. Our individual members are encouraged to pursue their convictions however they deem appropriate.
Click here to read more about the NSN Policy of Engaged Neutrality
Stories began not long after people first learned to speak.
This organization of storytellers began when many people had forgotten what it was like to hear a story. On a crisp October day in 1975, in a small town in Tennessee, people gathered to hear and to tell stories, then take them back to their own communities. Kathryn Windham, a journalist and storyteller, slapped down $5 and said, “We need a membership organization, and I’m the first member.”
Kathryn was the first of many members who formed our organization, initially named the National Association for the Preservation and Perpetuation of Storytelling. The early efforts of NAPPS centered on producing that annual festival. But, the members quickly expanded their scope. They created festivals and events all over the country. Storytelling spread to schools, libraries, national and state parks, corporations and non-profits, churches and places of physical and psychic healing, coffee shops and nightspots.
The National Storytelling Network is now an international community of storytellers who bring storytelling into diverse settings across the world. The National Storytelling Summit is NSN’s vehicle for bringing this international community together once a year. Like our members, the conference moves to different regions, providing an array of workshops for new initiates and longtime storytellers to network and hone their skills. Today, 1,600 individuals and affiliated organizations comprise the National Storytelling Network.
NSN is located in the burgeoning, vibrant arts center of Kansas City, Missouri. Our home and partnership with the award-winning Mid-Continent Public Library System, and its Woodneath Library Story Center facilitates member engagement and allows us to develop synergies that will further NSN’s international presence within arts communities at all levels.
The Story Center offers a variety of on-going monthly events and activities for individuals to learn the art of storytellers in its many forms. The Story Center will offer materials, resources, programming, and options for showcasing the print, oral, and digital stories created within. The aspiration is to build an internationally-celebrated center which houses and inspires the art of the story. Along with our other Kansas City Institutional partner Kansas City Metropolitan Community College-Maple Wood’s Campus, they are working to implement a storytelling certification program.
These partnerships expand NSN’s reach, as it continues to support individuals, organizations and communities that foster the growth of storytelling in education, arts performances, organizational communications, healing arts, and beyond. Our creative and innovative members are the bedrock of our organization, sharing their wisdom and expertise, encouraging excellence, and exploring new and creative paths in storytelling. We believe in the transformative power of story. We value diversity. We are the National Storytelling Network: We grow storytellers.