Community initiative celebrates Jonesborough’s stories

The International Storytelling Center (ISC) played host to a storytelling celebration on March 16 in the Mary B. Martin Storytelling Hall on the ISC campus. The event introduced the Jonesborough Community Storytelling Program, Telling Jonesborough’s Stories, a community-based project to celebrate what’s special about Jonesborough and its people through story.

The one-of-a-kind program was formally introduced by Jimmy Neil Smith, ISC founder and president, and will be carried out in partnership with the town of Jonesborough and the Heritage Alliance. During the celebration, guests enjoyed storytelling performances by Ted Hicks, son of celebrated Appalachian storyteller Ray Hicks, and 2010 Teller-in-Residence Connie Regan-Blake. Both Ray and Connie told stories at the first National Storytelling Festival in 1973. Musical and dancing entertainment was provided by E.C. Miller and Goldrush Review and the Avery High Smooth Dancers, acts also featured at the original Festival.

Telling Jonesborough’s Stories will allow anyone in the community to share their stories via several mechanisms including the Web, one-on-one interviews, group interaction, and simple conversation. These stories will be shared through many outlets including video and audio recordings, publications, theater and musical productions, dance, walking tours, film, Web sites, and museum and art exhibits.

Stories will be collected throughout 2010 and will be used to present story-based community performances in Jonesborough during 2011. Community Performance International, an organization specializing in the creation of theatrical productions from stories of people and their places, is working with ISC to discover and craft Jonesborough’s stories and will write and direct the community performance scheduled next year.

Through stories, memories of our history can be preserved and passed down from one generation to the next. The ability to gather these stories from the community and keep a record of them will ensure that this history continues.