Can storytelling help people in Milwaukee develop empathy and greater understanding? The folks at Ex Fabula think so, and as part of their work to strengthen community bonds through the art of storytelling, the Milwaukee nonprofit is kicking off a Storytelling Fellowship that will leverage personal stories to foster new kinds of community conversation.
This initial Fellowship focuses on the topics of privilege and oppression. “At Ex Fabula StorySlams, we welcome personal stories about the entire breadth of the human experience – both the fun moments and the painful ones. We already hear stories about personal and social challenges like disability and mental illness, but segregation and institutional racism just aren’t being discussed by enough people in our city. Personal stories are a great tool to help us explore these important topics and better understand the problems at hand,” said Executive Director Megan McGee.
“Other attempts to address Milwaukee’s racial disparities typically focus on economics, politics, and education. Ex Fabula’s effort to bring people together in ways that are deeply personal addresses other obstacles to the ability of people of color to improve their lives – lack of understanding, empathy, and trust among the city’s diverse residents,” said Dena Wortzel, executive director of the Wisconsin Humanities Council.
Applications are now being accepted from adults who live in the Greater Milwaukee area. No experience required – just interest in storytelling and the project mission. In October and November, Fellows will attend workshops where the group will explore how stories can be leveraged for social justice; identify, structure, and share true, personal stories; and honor each others’ experiences. Fellows will also have the opportunity to work one-on-one with a storytelling coach. Fellows will then share their engaging stories at interactive performances that include facilitated exercises that allow audience members to share stories and reactions. Audio, video and photos from selected performances will also appear on Ex Fabula’s website and radio show.
Full Fellowship information, an example of a personal story that reveals privilege and oppression, and applications are available at www.exfabula.com/programs/fellows.
Project funding includes grants from the Wisconsin Humanities Council, with funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the State of Wisconsin, and the Wisconsin Arts Board, with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts.