Storytelling Tabula Rasa 2019

Kuumba Storytelling T-shirt

The T-shirt in this photo says it all because if ever there were a theme for my storytelling  journey this past year, then “Have stories, do tell”, is surely it.  I have had nothing short of a spectacular year of stories, performing, writing, video recording, and facilitating throughout the year.  The personal growth was amazing as I finished my second master’s degree in Adult Education & Training from the University of Phoenix.

One of the more fascinating things I have discovered is that allowing stories to grow in a direction where they need too, makes me a better teller!  While many of us do have those “anytime, anywhere stories”, my challenge over the years had been telling a story in one hard and fast manner and not letting it evolve.  Evolution is necessary to survive, as is stories that we tell in order to keep up with  the changing times.

I have seen my stories develop this year in ways I had previously not though possible and applied to a number of settings both inside and out of the storytelling world.  This has not only made me a much better teller, but also a better person in how I approach life’s challenging and oft changing situations.

In a particular instance this year, I applied for a festival and submitted two stories, but each got turned down.  However, since then they have been broken up into smaller parts that were more effective in other material in my repertoire to make them stronger stories.  This never would have happened had I not been rejected for the festival.  The new material would have still been collecting dust!

It made me realize that I must continue to push myself and go beyond the limits of my comfort zone to continue growing and progressing forward.  Just as finding the extraordinary in the ordinary, I have made it a point to make the unlikely more than  likely to succeed when carefully crafted and well put together.   So, with 2019 right around the corner, I am ready for yet another clean slate to build more stories to engage, enlighten & enrich others!  See you on the other side and I’ll be sharing stories along the way!

Signature Assignment: Digital Presentation (Blog) AET562

This blog will cover the following six topics:  Social Media & Training, Social Media Platforms, Importance of Social Learning, Social Media Strategies for Best Practices, Storytelling in Social Media for Training, and Social Media for Professional Development.  Each will be covered and information provided regarding how these six topics will help enhance and improve the learning environment by properly utilizing social media as a effective training tool.

Social Media & Training

  • Benefits of use – Social Media can be a new and exciting way to give life to training by finding the right one for your group of learners. This is not an easy task and very well may be met with resistance.  However, once its benefits are shown and how it can relate to important aspects of the learner’s lives, then they will have an opportunity to experience an engaging atmosphere that is unique to anything they have experienced thus far.  It also keeps them connected with the advances of technology and communication in the world.  It also can prove to be a gateway for them to become a proponent and advocate of social media to peers of their generation who were once reluctant to its use.
  • The advantages far outweigh the disadvantages of not having social media in training. Those being a way to communicate with individuals who may not be able to attend all of the training sessions, accessibility to more information on a number of platforms than would be otherwise available, and also a social media platform specific to training will allow former trainees a way to stay in touch with their facilitator and utilize the tools and techniques learned by having a basis for future instruction.  Despite there always being a few drawbacks to incorporating social media into training, it will continue to be a necessity to keep up with progressive business and organizations who utilize it regularly.  For more on the advantages versus disadvantages, visit this website:
  • Integrating digital with traditional platforms – The integration of digital with traditional platforms can be an exciting and growing experience for all involved when approached properly.  The key is in understanding the comfort level of individuals who are new to the social media platforms available.  One way to help with showing the benefits of the integration is to do a comparison and contrast of each in an effort to show the similarities as well as how things have advanced so that there will be a steady learning curve for all involved as opposed to an imbalanced one. The two can coexist if there is a direct relation show to their relevance.  There must be a connection to the past that the learner can relate otherwise they may avoid the new platform altogether.

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Social Media Platforms

  • Facebook – By far the largest and most accessed form of social media, Facebook is a juggernaut when it comes to being a major influence and vehicle for training purposes.  Facebook has become so popular over the years that many of our functions on other websites are tied into Facebook.  It is used as a log in tool for several other digital platforms.
  • Tumblr – Though not as well known or used as many other social media platforms, Tumblr has its own unique format which can be useful if incorporated properly with training. It is a great example of microblogging that uses a number of medium to convey messages and relay pertinent information.  This allows for its sue in training to be a great win.
  • Twitter – Of these three platforms covered in this writing, Twitter is by far the most unique. With its 280-character limitation, Twitter forces account holders to address their points as clearly and concisely as possible without having to go over the limit, shorten it or simply continue it in another tweet. This is an effect format for answering questions and having them answered in real time so as not to have the flow of training broken.  This question and answer format is also utilized on many talk show or news formats that helps with clarity on subjects that would otherwise take away for the training or at the least slow down the learning process for others.

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Importance of Social Learning

  • Social Learning with Social Media – Learning with social media will continue to be a wave of the future as our world relies more on digital media to survive and thrive. Learning how to solve problems in a group as opposed to paying someone to solve  them for you will be more beneficial for people regarding issues such as automobiles, home improvement projects, or even computers.  We will continue to rely on the assistance of others in the same situation as you are as long as social media is a part of our lives with options like YouTube which helps provide self-instruction on a number of topics.  Social Media helps with social learning experiences for opportunities to meet other learners as well as make connections with other educators and training professionals (Walsh, 2011).
  • Blogging and social learning – Blogging (as it is done here), can be a means to participate socially with other when a real time option is not available. Blogging also allows for individuals to read, process, and research before deciding to comment or post on a discussions topic.  The blog can then become a discussion upon which a series can be based and continued depending on the depth of the writing and interest of its followers.  Then time permitting, a real time discussion and community blog can be written and posted for others to follow as a group going forward.  The social learning gained from experiences such as this are invaluable.
  • Personal Learning Networks – One of the more important aspects of digital social learning is that of Personal Learning Networks.  These networks are a means of partnering with individuals who share the same interest as you on a subject, cause, trade, etc. and each of you brings something unique to the network that is of benefit to others involved.  Choosing the right network for your needs is important for your growth.  Therefore, doing one’s due diligence to locate a network that will assist with your goals and endeavors to move forward may take dedicated research on your part in order to find the right fit.

Social Media Strategies for Best Practices

  • Policy & Procedures – These will provide proper protocol and etiquette for online facilitation and delegation of duties, responsibilities, and expectations. These will need to be updated periodically in order to assure compliance with current trends and needs.
  • Guidelines – In addition to the policy and procedures, the guidelines will compliment the two by supplying suggested best practices to maintain a respectable profile and presence that individuals who have both a personal and professional presence will appreciate and admire.
  • Monitoring – Tracking the input and discussion of individuals to determine if there are areas where it might be considered cyber bullying or stalking. In doing so, we will establish a safe environment for all who participate online.

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Storytelling in Social Media for Training

  • Personal storytelling – Personal narratives can be a great way of connecting real life experiences to challenges individuals face in training environments.  The narratives can be a way that the participants engage others and enlighten them on how they overcame obstacles.
  • Digital storytelling – The digital world of storytelling has taken off over the years. There are number of mediums such as Prezi that are great to incorporate into training and when coupled with social media can be a great teaching tool.
  • Blogging for historical storytelling – A blog series on a topic or a person is great way to compile an online diary of events, happenings and things that will maintain a record of opportunities and successes that will show the who, what, when, where or why of the matter and assist with getting individuals to the next stage of training with this step by step process.

Social Media for Professional Development

  • Meetup – This is a great source to find local events, happenings, and groups that may interest individuals. It is also an opportunity to learn about workshops that may be on a weekly or monthly basis that can be of value to people.
  • LinkedIn and its benefits – Using LinkedIn as a career source goes without saying and it is a great place to display one’s professional resume and connect with people in your chosen profession to leverage yourself for a future job or position. The site also allows potential employers to chance to view how many recommendations have been done for individuals whom they may be interested in hiring.
  • Organizational social media pages – These pages let potential job seekers or member s know about the organization and what it deems its focus and is important enough to maintain a presence on social media. The depth of the pages and specific focus to detail will enable the viewer to determine if the organization is a match for them or not.

In closing, these six topics of discussion open up numerous opportunities to incorporate social media tools into learning and professional development.  When used properly, they will actively engage participants by constantly creating a unique environment that will regularly encourage and compliment learning as well as enhance facilitation.

Chetter’s Storytelling Personal Learning Networks

Personal Learning Networks (PLN) can only enhance one’s growth to become better and more proficient at your talent, trade, or profession.  Storytelling is no different and in the blog below, are ten social media accounts that can be considered as this storyteller’s circle of excellence when it comes to being a (PLN).  There are several benefits for these ten being chosen as the primary sources for a (PLN).  However the main benefit is that as this storytellers journey continues to move forward, I will focus more on motivational and personal stories that inspire others.  In doing so, I have chosen the most credible and reliable sources that I feel will aid in that journey.  This is  specifically with regards to connecting to a variety of storytelling communities, where there are opportunities to showcase in areas that have previously had no exposure either regionally or nationally. But before we discuss specific (PLN’s), here are answers to three specific questions about (PLN) as well as the importance of two social media platforms.

  1. What is a PLN? Why is the careful selection of resources important to establishing your PLN?

Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach says,  “Personal learning networks help you leverage deeper connections and relationships, and from those networked relationships, you grow a community of connected learners and leaders” (Nussbaum-Beach, 2012, para. 6).  As for this storyteller, a (PLN) is a collection of like-minded individuals in an online environment who share the same interest in a subject and wish to increase their knowledge by collaborating with others  who have similar or more experience, that will benefit their personal and professional growth.  These resources are important and need to be both credible and reliable as well as current.  If they fall into these criteria, then the likelihood of the (PLN) being successful is greater than not.  Also, having a diverse group of people as part of ones (PLN) is equally important.  Understanding that while it is typically composed of like minded individuals, there still needs to be a variety sources to address the multiple views that permeate among members of the network.

  1. What role do Twitter® and LinkedIn® play as social media tools? How can these channels benefit your professional development?

Social media is now as necessary as having a hammer, nails, and duct tape in your home toolbox.  Two of those that are essential for many businesses are Twitter and LinkedIn.  Each has its benefit for the type of connection that one is seeking, and professional development needed.  Larry Kim offers 6 reasons why we should use LinkedIn like Twitter.  They are as follows:  exposure, better branding, endorsements, accolades, more content sharing, website traffic, and visibility on best content (Kim, 2014). Whereas Twitter is more geared toward updates and listings such as professional events, LinkedIn is more of an online career resource center.  It focuses more on connections that will benefit professionals looking to change or advance in their career.  It is also a place to find supportive groups of individuals whose goal is to pool resources on potential employment options and future connections that will benefit job opportunities for the future.

  1. Can a PLN take the place of formal classroom training? Explain your response.

In some instances, they are an acceptable substitute for a formal class.  However, overall, they are better suited at complimenting rather than replacing formal training.  For example, in a traditional class, one may get the background and theory necessary which can be skewed or inaccurate, if you are only exposed to learning in a (PLN).  The (PLN) may also be inconsistent at the training it provides and thereby have opportunities missed that increase the learning gaps of  people even further.   Also, a Personal Learning Network may not work for all individuals or may simply be something that they only want to participate in periodically and subsequently miss out on pertinent information if it is the only option as opposed to an alternative of formal training.

Do Tell:  10  potential STORYTELLING  Personal Learning Network Sources:

  1. David Joe Miller Presents – David Joe Miller is a Storyteller, Workshop Facilitator, and Storytelling Events promoter in Asheville, NC which is a  well-known eclectic arts  community in  western North Carolina.  He is also  the founder of the Jonesborough Storytelling Guild in the storytelling capital of the world, Historic Jonesborough, TN.
  2. East Tennessee State University Storytelling – East Tennessee Storytelling University (ETSU) is known for its Masters in Storytelling Program founded by retired educator Dr. Flora Joy.  Its annual summer storytelling institutes are conducted by national and internationally known storytellers who also facilitate classes for the program.
  3. Portland Story Theater – The creative duo of Lawrence Howard and Lynne Duddy founded this platform to tell personal stories before a live audience after a six week intensive workshop.  The focus is on personal stories with many themes and workshops to get to the core of why the story is relevant and needs to be told.
  4. National Association of Black Storytellers (NABS) – African American storytelling organization that is the authentic voice of black storytelling and provides information on all aspects of African and African American stories as well as those indicative of the African diaspora.  It was founded in 1982 by storytellers Mother Mary Carter Smith and Mama Linda Goss.
  5. Risk – Founder Kevin Allison created this show as a place where very risky or taboo stories of a personal nature  could be told that otherwise would not dare be shared in public or in front of even the most intimate audiences.
  6. Secret Society of Twisted Storytellers – Founded by Satori Shakoor, this organization has monthly storytelling programs featuring personal stories, with a podcast, and a live stream from Detroit, MI.  This one of a kind organization is a first with a primary focus on African-Americans telling personal stories as well as well known actors, comedians and others in the entertainment industry.
  7. Southern Order of Storytellers – This is a regional organization of storytellers with various cluster groups in the greater Atlanta region featuring personal storytelling events such as Stories on the Square, Stories on the Edge of Night and the annual Peach State Storytelling Festival.
  8. The Moth – This personal storytelling platform  has a 20-year history with a blog, podcast, live events, and workshops, was created in 1997 by novelist George Dawes Green.  It can be considered as the granddaddy of many personal storytelling programs that exist today.
  9. TEDx Atlanta – This is a local self-organized event to promote the theme of TED by the sharing of ideas to spark engagement and initiate action in the greater metro area of Atlanta, GA and its surroundings.
  10. Toastmasters International–  This  is a well known international organization focusing on leadership skills that can be developed through competitive speaking has been around for almost a century with various chapters throughout the country.

Once Upon a Blog!

The most common definition for a blog is that it is a “web log” (Marketing Terms, 2018). It can also be referred to as an online diary or discussion of events, in addition to being a source of information for researched topics.  Over the years, its definition  has expanded into covering a multitude of subject matter including anything from literature to politics.  Additionally, blogs are places where like minded individuals have the opportunity to discuss and debate topics that are relevant to them in both their personal and professional  lives.

An advantage to using blogs in training environments is that unless they are removed from the internet, then the information contained in them is always accessible as a point of reference for a specific time in history.  That information can also be measured as to how well it continues to be relevant with current events.  A disadvantage of a blog is that many times they are a reflection of the writers opinion, and are often biased and not objective.   This can affect one’s research if it is being used as a reliable source of credibility.  The credibility of the bloggers material as well as it being a  reliable source will adversely affect how well they are received in the community of their peers and fans.

By using blogs as training tools, this allows individuals to capitalize on people’s strengths and enhance their opportunities. Depending on where their best abilities lie, micro blogging on platforms such as Twitter and Tumblr,  may be appropriate for someone who is more visual and can express themselves more creatively.  On the other hand, a  traditional long form blog may be best suited for individuals whose strengths and skills are in writing.  The combining of both provides a winning hand where each type of learner has an opportunity to improve in areas where their counterparts excel.  Blogs also provide an electronic journal of discovery and revelation in addition to stories that can be applied to future learning and training environments.

The five blogs below are excellent resources for educators, leaders, or trainers  who are using  storytelling when facilitating workshops and its techniques to reach a wide variety of audiences.

  • The International Storytelling Center  – The International Storytelling Center provides monthly information about storytelling around the world and how the center itself  plays a role in preserving the art form in this blog.  The topics vary but mainly show how stories are used to connect with the international community.  The center is located in Jonesborough, TN where the art form experienced its revival over 40 years ago and has been responsible for the rebirth of storytelling since the first festival in 1973.  While comments are permitted the blog is primarily a reflection of experiences from the International Storytelling Center Staff and its director and how storytelling impacted those experiences.

  • The National Association of Black Storytellers –  This blog focuses specifically on African American storytelling and its continued importance and relevance to the black community.  It also discusses the significance of the passing down of stories from one generation to the next.  The organization has been around for over three decades and one of its founders is still alive today.  Each year in November the organization produces a festival featuring tellers from around the world who specialize in the art of telling stories from the African diaspora.  Many topics of discussion from that Diaspora are the focus of this blog which makes it unique from other storytelling blogs in that it highlights ethnic storytelling.  

  • National Storytelling Network –   The National Storytelling Network blog covers any and all aspects of professional storytelling from boardroom to class room and front porch to the stage.  It is done monthly on the many facets of storytelling including the business of storytelling and storytelling in business settings.  Occasionally, followers will contribute and share their experiences.  The longevity of the blog and its consistency is due to the status of the bloggers who contribute and are well respected in the storytelling community.  This is an excellent resource for any professional looking to incorporate storytelling into their training with a number of blog posts relevant to many subjects.

  • TEDBlog –  TED Talks are respected around the world and have a track record of producing quality education & informative talks on a number of subjects.  Likewise, their blog is equally impressive.  Entries are made throughout the month for followers to engage and interact with the posts. There readers will find topics of discussion  pertinent to a training environment which include:  storytelling, digital storytelling, leadership skills, communication and  collaboration.  Each is in line with the tagline of TED Talks which is the sharing of great ideas.  The search engine is very comprehensive and leaves no shortage of interesting and educational blogs to explore.

  • Training Mag –  Training Mag has monthly tips for training professionals such as learning from seasoned individuals and training the next generation.  Other topics covered include recruitment, retention, leadership skills, and learning theories.  This is a credible organization with history of being in forefront of  the training and development field for decades while partnering with reputable industry professionals. In addition to management and HR regulations, it covers best practices and strategies that are considered new and groundbreaking techniques in the training and development industry.

For individuals who are new to blogging, here are a few tips to assist with getting started.  First, take interest in a subject or hobby where  you have a true passion.  This will encourage reading and research of the subject which will enhance the blog that you are  planning to create.   Secondly, look for blogs that have a consistent longevity of credible posts as well as comments. This shows that there is an effective dialogue taking place between the blog writer and the reader.   A third best practice is to look for a blog that stands out and is different. The same can be said if you are starting a blog.  Ask these questions.  What is a trademark that will separate your blog from others?   What information in the blog can readers not get elsewhere?  What makes it special or unique?  Does the blog have a brand attached to it?

If starting a blog for the first time, look for a user-friendly platform where you can add, edit, and change easily without getting frustrated and in need of constant technical assistance.  In addition to these basic tips for beginners, there is a comprehensive list of 30 best practices as well as a beginning blogging guide by well-respected blogger Matt Banner (Banner, 2015). In it, is covered everything from topics to discuss, to the incorporation of videos, social media and beyond.  The list though done in 2015, is still applicable today and is a must have fort anyone serious about blogging.

Just Some Thoughts

Here we are again at the end of a year and the brink of yet another.  For me, I can see where my storytelling has evolved over this past year from the variety of stories and setting in which I have told.  Additionally, now that I have completed a year of graduate school, my storytelling has taken a more theoretical as well as academic approach in my though process and delivery.  The year, 2017 has revealed to me that I have many avenues and uncharted waters to explore for stories.  It will be my goal in 2018 and beyond to make the most out of these venues that I have previously shied away from in previous years.

Two new pieces I will be working on in the new year are more in the line of one man shows of historical figures in the African-American community.  In addition to that, I want to expand on my own personal & reflective one man show which I presented for the first time at the Classic City Fringe Festival in Athens, GA this past year.  These two new pieces will keep me busy throughout the year as I ensure that they are as close to perfection as possible without error.

Needless to say, I will always have a foothold in the African American genre of storytelling which is the root of my persona in the storytelling community.  With that in mind, I will continue to increase my repertoire of stories and learn new material in addition to retelling and improving upon the classics that I have told for years.

So stay tuned as there is a lot more to come from this teller in the upcoming year!

Just some thoughts!  🙂


Starburst Storytelling Festival

Hi Story fans!

I’ve been away for a minute, but never gone entirely!

It has been a very long progressive summer with performances at local coffee houses, the MOTH, and at the National Storytelling Conference:  All our Voices in Kansas City, MO.

Well, the telling continues next month as I will have the opportunity to participate in the Starburst Storytelling festival as the Teller-In-Residence for Anderson University in Anderson, SC.

This is a weeklong festival from Oct. 15th –  Oct 19th.

School children will be bussed in from the area and there is one evening program for adults on Monday Oct 16th.

I am particularly looking forward to that presentation as it is an opportunity for me to present new material in my program:  Breaking Bread with a Sharp Slice of Chetter

The description is so apropos for the direction my storytelling is taking . . . “Today, Chetter finds story fodder in his life – the times where he goofed up, made a huge mistake, or simply acted out of character.  Lessons learned, overcoming adversity, and finding courage are his stock in trade”.

I appreciate the opportunity to share this these types of stories now at this point in life as the time has come to share the heartache, disappointments, & travesties, I experienced and see both what lessons and humor can be found in them.

So, if you are in the Palmetto State on I-85 and want to take a short excursion to hear stories next month, I will have a front row seat waiting for you!

See you there!

For more information go to:

New Workshop Offering!

I am happy to have a new addition to my family . . . of program offerings. Gotcha! It is my new workshop, Storytelling 3.0: Sights, Sounds, and Samples for The Art of Listening! Colleagues have been asking me for years to offer a workshop that covers the many elements I use in storytelling, so here it is!

It will premiere at the Bear on the Square Mountain Festival in Dahlonega, GA. The festival is Saturday, April 22nd & Sunday, April 23rd.

More information on the festival is here:

See you there!

The Truth Will Set You Free

For the past few months, I have been away from blogging; I have been working on developing a one-man show for an upcoming fringe festival.  This will be a collection of personal stories that I have been writing over the years and waiting for the right opportunity to tell them.  That time is now.

During my two year stay in Portland, I gained a greater appreciation of storytelling, particularly reality telling.  With several venues dedicated to all types of personal impactful stories, such as The Portland Storytellers Guild, Portland Story Theater, Backfence PDX, The Moth, and Mystery Box Storytelling there are several outlets to tell the once taboo, forbidden and shameful tales.  The key I believe in telling such material is for one to have overcome their embarrassing escapade and tell it in a way to make an emotional connection to the audience.  I find that one of the most successful ways of doing this is through laughter.  Because once you have found the humor and vulnerability in the outrageous, you can relay it to your audience in a way which they can laugh at themselves too, thereby winning them over.

For years I have been primarily a traditional teller of African and African American stories.  However, as the years passed, there has been a yearning to tell more personal and intimate stories.    So, I began to look back at different times in my life where I have goofed up, made a huge mistake, or simply acted out of character.  And as I began to write down my thoughts and make a list, I discovered that there is plenty of fodder for material.

What helped me in this process was recalling an assignment we had in graduate school at East Tennessee State University.    In one of our classes, Acting for Storytellers and Storytelling for Actors, we were tasked with preparing a stand-up comedy routine about ourselves.  This was intimidating at first, but then as I began to look at who I was, I focused on what would make me funny such as my name, my race, being born in the south, and stereotypes.  As a result, I have since taken material from that comedy routine and developed a well-received comedic story which will also be a part of my one man show.

My goal is to share an autobiographical fringe of personal stories and experiences that will be funny, enlightening, educational and entertaining.  I am very excited about this new venture as well as the direction for my storytelling and can’t to share this new show with story fans and story listeners.  So, stay tuned for more details.

Chetter M. Galloway

The Legacy of Trailblazing Black Pioneers

My historical interpretation of Hiram Gorman a few weeks ago opened my eyes as to what it means to be a black pioneer of Oregon. As part of the Oregon Black Pioneers “Backroads to Black History Tour, we were treated to many locations that reflected how blacks have made a significant impact in Oregon despite the racism they encountered from Oregon’s territory days to the present.

We started at the Salem Pioneer Cemetery where several historical black figures of Salem are buried. It was at this location that I portrayed a gentleman by the name of Hiram Gorman.  He was a former slave born in Macon, MO that served as a teamster during the Civil War and lived in Montana before finally settling in Salem, OR.  He worked as a newspaper pressman for 10 years in Salem until his death in 1888.

Hiram’s path to Oregon was the same as many blacks who migrated west. Many came from the Midwest or Deep South with their slave masters and after gaining their freedom remained in the area to serve as the foundation of the black community that still exists today.  Many of these pioneers were Gardeners, Blacksmiths, Cooks, and business owners all this at a time when Oregon had black exclusion laws on the books until 1925.

In Hiram’s case there is a bit of an interesting twist. His mother and sister came to Oregon long before he did and as a matter of fact, it was twenty five years before he and his mother were reunited in Corvallis, OR which is where one of our stops on the tour took place.  It was at the home of Hanna and Eliza Gorman who were the mother and sister of Hiram respectively.  After gaining their freedom from their master, Hannah and Eliza bought property in Corvallis and built a home where they were gainfully employed as a laundress and seamstress.  According to public records, both were well respected in the community by blacks and whites.  During the time in which Hiram was separated from his family, his sister died (1869) which was just two years before he left Montana for Oregon.  At some point he reconnected with his mother and it is believed that she stayed with him until her death in 1888.  Hiram died only a few weeks later.

Other stops on the tour where well known pioneering blacks were buried included the Mt. Union Cemetery in Philomath as well as the Helvetia Community Church in Hillsboro, OR.

Our final stop on the tour was at the Abbey Creek Winery in North Plains. Here we were treated to a sampling of various wines at the first black owned winery in Oregon.  The owner, Bertony Faustin will be featured in the wine based reality show, Best Bottle in addition to being nominated for the “Best Winery of Portland”.  This by far was my most memorable stop.  It was truly what culminated the day’s events.  To see a black man, a Haitian immigrant come to the United States and have a successful business   white dominated industry was my “aha” moment.

You see, black pioneers do not just exist in the past tense in Oregon. We are active and present in the arts, business, civic organizations, and everyday life.  And continue to shape the cultural fabric of Portland and Oregon by blazing a trail of creativity, ingenuity, and perseverance in the face of adversity.


Tell Me A Story, Mr. Chetter!

The "New" Brothers Grim, Br. Rabbit, Br. Gator, & Br. Possum

The “New” Brothers Grim, Br. Rabbit, Br. Gator, & Br. Possum

My school residency this past week pushed me to try some new and different things in my storytelling. When I was first approached to do this residency, I was apprehensive because of the age group (3 – 5) and not having age appropriate material.  And admittedly, I was not completely comfortable with all the material I tried.  However, it is part of the growing process and willingness to do new things and experience growth at all stages of my profession.

I focused on Anansi the Spider Tales and Brer Rabbit Stories for my week with the (3 – 5) year olds. What I discovered is that with just a little tweaking and creativity, the stories I usually tell for older audiences were appropriate for this young age.

For example, one of the crafts I had the children create was a drum made from a coffee can. However, it was not simply just a prop, when I told the story of why spiders hang in corners; they actually played the drum along with me as I played mine.

In another craft, we incorporated the masks made of animals into a story wherein the children role played the different animals.  Additionally, in one of the stories, by incorporating a repetitive song and rhythm into the tale, the listeners knew where their part was and were eager participants as they came in on queue.

One story that really resonated with the group and they really enjoyed was The Great Big Plop, which is a version of The Sky is Falling. In this story, I use different animals such as Brer Rabbit, Deer, Monkey, Frog, Elephant, & Turtle in the story.  The students were so enamored with the tale, that they went outside and started reenacting it from beginning to end one character at a time.

By the end of the residency, many of the students were telling their own versions of the stories of Brer Rabbit and Anansi or the parts they best remembered. So in conclusion, by learning new material and applying different techniques, this residency proved to be a rewarding experience for my personal growth as an artist and one which I can build upon.

Chetter Galloway