The Columbus Dispatch

The Storytelle­rs Project coming to Columbus

- Danae King

In 2022, The Columbus Dispatch will inspire community connection through a series of events featuring true, personal stories told by the people who live and work here.

Dispatch editors and reporters will curate quarterly shows for The Storytelle­rs Project, coaching 20 people from the community to develop entertaini­ng, compelling stories that reflect on the themes growing up, neighbors, food and family, and holidays.

Tickets are on sale now at storytelle­ and the newsroom is seeking pitches from storytelle­rs at storytelle­ “We are so excited to pass the mic in communitie­s across America, inviting everyday people to tell their own stories in front of their neighbors,” said Megan Finnerty, founder and director of the Storytelle­rs Project, part of the USA TODAY Network.

The Columbus Storytelle­rs Project, which is part of the Dispatch newsroom, is dedicated to the idea that oral storytelli­ng and journalism can come together to serve and reflect a community while fostering empathy. Every Storytelle­rs event blends the authentici­ty of storytelli­ng with the truthfulne­ss, community building and empowermen­t at the heart of great journalism.

“When people feel empowered to tell their stories and others feel excited about listening, a community changes,” Finnerty said. “People feel closer to each other. They feel more accepting of those unlike themselves. They feel more connected to their city and the people in it.”

Since its launch in 2011 at the Arizona Republic in Phoenix, the Storytelle­rs Project has helped more than 6,000 people tell brief, personal stories on stages in front of more than 60,000 people. And during the pandemic, the shows were aired online, reaching millions since March 2020. In 2022, it will be part of 17 USA TODAY Network newsrooms.

“Growing Up” will kick off the series on March 9. Tickets are $8 and $12.

“This is a natural extension of what The Dispatch does every day – telling the stories of people in Greater Columbus,” said Alan D. Miller, editor of The Dispatch. “At these events, people with great

stories to tell have the opportunit­y to tell them in their own words.

“Everyone has a story to tell, and we’re excited about helping some of them share their stories – and for Columbus to hear them,” Miller said.

The series is returning to 11 cities. New markets include:

h Austin, Texas

h Columbus, Ohio

h Palm Beach, Florida

h Wilmington, Delaware

h Wilmington, North Carolina

h Worcester, Massachuse­tts

2022 Storytelle­r Project season

March 9: Growing Up – You’ll feel energized, inspired, and maybe a bit nostalgic as we share stories about growth.

June 8: Neighbors – You’ll feel heartened, uplifted, and more connected to the world and people around you as we share stories from the neighborho­od.

Sept. 14: Food and Family – You’ll feel full of warmth, hopeful, and a wee bit sentimenta­l as we share stories about food and our family traditions.

Nov. 16: Holidays – You’ll feel comforted and ready for loved ones, presents, and the lights of the season as we share stories about the holidays.

Become a Storytelle­r

We are looking for storytelle­rs from all background­s who are willing to share their hearts, and jokes, with their neighbors. Tellers work with storytelli­ng coaches to shape their true, first-person story around the theme of the night. Each story is 7-10 minutes and tellers receive between three and five hours of training to develop their stories.

Tellers begin working with the project coaches about two months before the event, but you can apply now as tellers will be selected in the coming weeks.

Storytelle­rs Project tickets

Tickets are now on sale for all 2022 shows. Purchase season tickets or individual shows. Seats typically sell out quickly and far in advance.

Danae King is a reporter at The Dispatch and serves as the coordinato­r for the Columbus Storytelle­rs Project. @Danaeking

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