The National Storytelling Summit is packed full of inspirational and educational workshops.

NSN is proud to offer workshops and performances by some of the most talented storytellers in the storytelling community! You won’t want to miss this exciting part of the 2019 National Storytelling Summit, held at the Fremont Marriott Silicon Valley in Fremont, California, July 25-28, 2019. Please note: Subject matter varies widely and may contain adult material.

Schedule may be subject to change.

Click a colored bar below to see more information for that day

Once Upon A Gallery: Using Storytelling to Bring Museums to Life

Liz Nichols

This interactive workshop will focus on four topics:
1. How to use stories to make museum exhibits more engaging and more memorable for visitors.
2. What kind of stories work best in museums.
3. Getting museum educators interested in storytelling as a tool.
4. Real world models of storytelling in museums, including an in-depth look at the Asian Art Museum’s 20-year-old storytelling program.

Embody! Physical Eloquence for Storytellers

Motoko Dworkin

Forget electronic gadgets. Our bodies are our ultimate device, our imagination the coolest app! Explore with Motoko how to re-enter and engage in conscious dialogue with your body, using movement as a vehicle for insight. Through gentle hands-on experiments, she will help you increase your physical vocabulary, understand the metaphoric connections between kinesthetic experience and story themes, and become an embodiment of your narrative. Come ready to “boot up”your storytelling!

Crafting an Eco-Narrative

Diane Edgecomb

Explore the many ways storytelling can build bridges to the natural world giving increased empathy and understanding. Using experience from over thirty years of collecting and creating educational nature tales, Diane helps participants develop stories to enhance nature, science and environmentally oriented presentations. Workshop participants will develop their own original teaching tales and practice ways to incorporate facts into folktales and narrative into factual studies whether indoors or out along the trail – all in a fun, interactive format.


Micro Majors: Finding Success as a Medium Fish in a Small Pond

Sean Buvala

Storytellers once desperately declared that they were telling “stories for all audiences,” seeking any way to keep their bills paid. In storytelling now, a micro-audience of a majority of eager fans can sustain your work. Learn to get your ego in check and identify the new micro groups for your major focus. You’ll make a plan to engage via marketing, social media, and quality artistry. A smartphone or laptop is required for this session.

Unraveling Babel: Unlocking the Power of Storytelling to Teach and Support
English Language Learners

Rachael Harrington

Storytelling is a shared human experience and is potent with opportunities for English Language Learners to gain language skills and confidence in meaningful context. In this interactive workshop, educators and professional storytellers will explore how oral storytelling increases new language learning and creates connections between ELL’s and native speakers. Through learning stories and games perfect for English Language Learners, participants will be energized to be sources of support and welcome to the students they serve.



Belonging in the USA: The Story of Michael D. McCarty

Michael McCarty

Description TBA

Bawdy Stories: The History and Practice of THAT Storytelling

Dixie De La Tour

Bawdy Stories is a phenomenally successful storytelling series that is predicated on the honest and often funny sharing of sexual experience. Join Dixie De La Tour, the creator, curator and host of Bawdy Storytelling as she shares how she started it, how she produces it, and its guiding principles to serve both the audience and the tellers.

A Conversation About Story Slams: Roundtable Discussion

Moderated by Loren Niemi

Join us for a conversation facilitated by the Producers & Organizers Special Interest Group about the state of the Story Slams. Who is doing what variations of the form? What role should or can NSN play in supporting Story Slams? Should or can there be a national slam mechanism? The agenda will be set by the folks in the room…here’s a chance to put your questions and ideas in the mix.

Social Justice and Healing Story Panel Discussion

Moderated by Mike Seliger

Healing begins with recognition that there has been a wound – to individuals, communities truth, and the land itself. Panelists will share approaches employing healing story work for empowering and education; motivating and mobilizing; recovery and resilience. Workshop attendees will be invited to share their approaches as well.

Mike Seliger is the chair of the Healing Story Alliance for the past six years. He has written and presented on Healing Story, Social Justice and Resilience. He has been involved with community organizing and social change for decades. His doctoral dissertation was on Community Action Agency Strategies for Survival under Reagan.

String Stories for Brain Health and World Peace

Fred Mindlin

Through an innovative approach to teaching storytelling with string figures as a performance art, participants will come away with the skills to learn string games and how to craft a story “illustrated” with string. We will experience some of the brain development benefits and understand how this multicultural
storytelling approach helps to build empathy and understanding across many kinds of difference.

Pin the Tail on the Narrative

Andy Offutt Irwin

Lawn Darts meets Eudora Welty. This raucous workshop involves the careless throwing of pens and carefully guided steps for developing personal narratives, freeing participants to delve into the past and chip away the unmovable stone of doubt in order to reveal the treasure of new stories.

*Note that your facilitator possess the comedic maturity to avoid the spelling of the third word of the workshop title: T – A – L – E. You’re welcome.

Stringing Our Stories Together

Joel ben Izzy

We live in the midst of a revolution in personal storytelling. More and more people are finding their voices and telling their tales – at places like The Moth, festivals, and through Podcasts. And that’s a good thing. Even so, many of us who live and work in the world of story are finding ourselves sometimes overwhelmed. With so many stories swirling around, some of us are beginning to ask ourselves how they fit together. That is: How do our stories become our story?

While it’s a question any storyteller might ask at any time, there’s something particularly prescient about it now, in this fractured age overflowing with information and shortened attention spans. One of our jobs, as storytellers, is to help our listeners settle in to the world of story, to rediscover the pleasure that comes with one story leading to another, and all of them combining to create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.

The place to begin is in finding the through lines that string our own stories together, which is what we will be doing in this workshop. Working with a small group tellers, we will each tread paths to our own wellspring of stories, then work learn techniques that allow us to discover ways string them together.

This is an ideal workshop for tellers who wondering how to bring shorter stories together into a longer performance, or craft them into a book, a book, play or movie – even an in depth podcast.

Each teller will come away with a better sense of how their stories fit together – and why we, as storytellers, do what we do.
Joel ben Izzy is a Berkeley-based storyteller, author and story consultant. Back in 1983 he set off to travel the world, gathering and telling stories, always with a focus on stringing them together, as he does his six award-winning CDs.

His first book, The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness (Algonquin, 2003), weaves together tales from his own travels to recount an amazing journey that began when he awoke from a surgical procedure to discover he could no longer speak. It is currently in development as a film and a musical. His second book, Dreidels on the Brain (Dial, 2003), is a fictionalized coming-of-age Hanukkah memoir, weaving together tales from his childhood, his family history and Chelm, the mythical Jewish village of fools. It was recently named as a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award.

Creative Aging Through Storytelling

Catherine Moore

In this workshop, you will learn about how creativity, storytelling, story activities, and intergenerational communication can be used to help combat loneliness and the aging process. A description of a model Creative Aging program, the Southside Story Share Project, will be given, and then participants will experience the major activities of that program using creative story, art, and sensory exercises.

Stump the Pros: A Panel Discussion and Q&A with the YES board

Angela Lloyd, Karin Amano, Priscilla Howe and Donna Washington

Combined, the Youth, Educators & Storytellers Alliance Board has over two hundred years experience telling and teaching. Join us for a session of Ask the Board! Want to know about calming, reclaiming, controlling, and entertaining the youngest listeners with chants, songs, and stretches? What about connecting with roving audiences, bilingual telling, crafting age-appropriate material, and planning residences? We’ll share our wisdom and answer your questions!

Swap led by Healing Story Alliance executive committee members

The stories people tell have a way of taking care of them. If stories come to you, care for them. And learn to give them away, when they are needed. Sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive. That is why we put stories in each others’ memory. This is how people care for themselves…
–Badger’s advice, in BarryLopez’s Crow and Weasel, p. 48

Come join in sharing stories that encourage or show resilience, offer examples of how to deal with the stresses faced in the current world. Both traditional and personal stories can resonate in ways that give meaning, answers, and or hope.

The Accidental Naturalist

Pete Griffin

He just wanted a job in the woods all by himself. Then this introverted biologist began telling natural history stories on the radio leading to appearances on Disney’s Alaska cruises. What’s his secret? Was it just dumb luck? Learn how it happened and how you might employ the same principles. Bring your idea for a natural history or environmental story for discussion, or create one from props provided by the instructor.

The Stories of Your Organization and the Organization of Your Stories

Sally Perkins

“We need to tell our story better! Help!” This is what professionals in non-profits, businesses, and universities are saying today. In this workshop simulation, you’ll experience a training model for helping organizations 1) understand why stories matter; 2) decipher what stories to tell; 3) differentiate between a story and a testimonial or chronology; 4) craft compelling stories; and 5) develop story banks.

Telling Tales in School: Secrets to Developing and Implementing an Award-Winning Inter-Generational Elementary School Storytelling Program

Clara Kamunde

Storytelling is the oldest form of teaching. From time immemorial it has linked generations and communities giving children a unique learning platform for learning language, engaging in inquiry and wonder, and for developing creativity, imagination and critical thinking skills. Are you an evangelist for storytelling with a passion for developing the next generation of storytellers wondering “What is the secret to designing a storytelling program that authentically bridges generations and impacts education?” This workshop answers that question by diving in to Storybridge, a nationally recognized, model in-school storytelling program designed to develop language arts and critical thinking skills in elementary school students, while simultaneously linking generations.


You Ain’t Brown Enough to Tell Your Stories Here

Jeff Gere

Shake your cultural tree examining dilemmas telling “other people’s tales”. Short tales, & situations open up group responses. Issues arising: honoring
indigenous people, Traditional vs. Contemporary cultures, Inner Vision, earned authenticity, & Rapunzel’s Crone. JEFF GERE is a white man living in brown Hawaii telling contemporary supernatural tales based on Hawaiian beliefs (30 years) & Arabian Night Tales during Iraq War. Rapunzel called Jeff to free her from that tower. Issues, not answers.

Chaplain’s Tales: Story as Healing Engagement – Shaping Care and Culture in Healthcare

Alden T. (Joe) Doolittle

Story as method in caring for the Congregation(s) and shaping the culture, in Healthcare Settings. Through lecture, example and interactive exercise, participants will acquire understanding of Chaplaincy, the practice of presence and attention; and how story as method provides avenues for strengthening the relationships within health care practice. A premier example of a highly successful motivational use of story will also be referenced, a robust reference outline and bibliography will be provided.

International School Tours: What to Know Before You Go

Elaine Muray, Karen Golden, and Michael Lockett

In this panel of experienced touring story artists, participants will learn what agencies and schools are looking for, the what and how of materials to be changed and created, what to expect on a tour, preempting the unexpected, and creating goodwill to ensure future tours for yourself and/or your agency, as well as an ambassador of your own country.

Chat with the NSN Board

NSN Board Members

Description TBA