From a distance, Detroit’s problems seem all too clear and simple to understand: The street lamps don’t work; houses by the score lay abandoned; and the city is broke. Listen to the people, and you quickly understand that the situation is complicated and that it didn’t sneak up on them.
Another confession: My wife and I are infatuated with Hawaiian music and hula. At its heart, hula is about storytelling. Through dance, chants and music, performers can tell stories about anything from the courtship between two lovers to the epic myth of the creation of the Hawaiian islands at the beginning of time. And the best performers do it with an almost spiritual reverence to their history, culture and traditions.
Listening to stories can make you laugh, cry, snicker or soar. Telling stories can help you retrieve lost history, discover connections with strangers, and understand your deepest feelings. Sometimes, they can even help you heal. These were some of the points I drew from a conversation with three individuals who use storytelling in their work.