Secret Fabula Coffee at Stone Creek

by guest blogger Raina J. Johnson
photos by Elizabeth Dawson

I don’t know two things that are more universally accepted than coffee and story-telling. Both have stood the test of time. Even as technology advances, coffee and stories seem to remain timeless ways to bring people together for what is guaranteed to be a great time. Guests at Ex Fabula’s Secret Fabula were able to experience that sense of togetherness and community on Saturday at Stone Creek Coffee on 5th and St. Paul.

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"Speaking directly to one another is priceless." Evelyn P.

The Great Listen 2015

by guest blogger and Ex Fabula volunteer Ann Marie Moss

We humans have a hard time with listening. Many of us seem to have an innate tendency to think of our response within the first three words of our conversation partner’s comment, rather than hearing their their full statement before considering our reply. When I consciously try to listen for the last word of someone’s sentence before thinking of how I’ll answer, the conversation seems richer, with a deeper connection. (I first discovered this at an Ex Fabula workshop during an exercise led by storytelling coach Karen Kolberg!)

Woman with glasses, wearing a white and pink sweater, sitting behind a cake shaped like a lamb
The author’s Grandma. “She’s wearing a necklace I made her. This is at Easter, about two months before she passed in 2010.”

I find this to be especially true with my family. Since I’ve known these people my whole life, it is particularly easy to interrupt them, assuming I know their opinions and what they will say next. Of course this isn’t true.

The holiday season before my grandmother passed away, I learned more about her – her childhood, her parents, her early romances, her loyalty – than I had in my 25+ years prior on this earth. She always had such energy, but after a tough illness, she was getting frail. It took that extreme switch for me to choose to listen. I sought out her opinion and asked to hear stories from her life – how her parents came here, about her experience in the city. She shared brilliant insights into life and expressed opinions that were completely contradictory to my assumptions; she was more real, less judgmental, and more accepting than I had ever experienced. After her passing the next spring, I was so thankful I engaged in conscious LISTENING over the holidays.

This year at Thanksgiving, I’m looking forward to participating in The Great Listen with other members of my family. It’s nothing formal or serious, simply a movement to consciously listen to each other when we gather for Thanksgiving. The Great Listen encourages us to spend a few extra moments with someone, learning about something important to them. I think of it as a mini-Story Corps (who, incidentally, started this movement).

Will you join me?


How to participate in the Great Listen

FrontStoryCorps is working with teachers and high school students across the country on this project – but it’s open to everyone.

  1. Download the StoryCorps app on any mobile device.
  2. Sit down with a friend or family member during Thanksgiving weekend.
  3. Use the app’s built-in prompts to record an interview – which you can publish or keep for yourself.

Of course, you can make this experience your own. Do what works for you! Ignore the prompts and come up with your own questions. Maybe even skip the app and track down an old tape deck or super 8. The important thing is that you take time to listen.

Afterward, please share you photos and comments about your experience on social media with the hashtag #ExFabListen15.

Happy listening!

Ex Fabula logo

Volunteer Orientation & Social

Your choice of two dates:

Tuesday, September 95:30pm – 6:30pm

Bay View Library, 2566 S Kinnickinnic Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53207
Social location immediately following: 
Café Lulu, 2265 S Howell Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53207

Monday, September 226:15pm – 7:15pm

Martin Luther King Library, 310 W Locust St, Milwaukee, WI 53212
Social location immediately following: 
Garfield’s 502, 502 W Garfield Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53212

Hope to see you at Season 6 Volunteer Orientation! Ex Fabula relies on volunteers. We need you and all the talents you have to share!

Secret Fabula storytellers Adam Carr and Sarah Gail Luther

Secret Fabula Artist Profile: Adam Carr

Adam telling a story at Ex Fabula
Adam telling a story at Ex Fabula; photo by Art Montes

Storyteller, neighborhood enthusiast and radio producer Adam Carr is never one to shy away from a good story. Adam has found himself behind the mic at an Ex Fabula storyslam or two and more recently at NEWaukee’s Night Market sharing a tale of a “Lonely Thief”.

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Click here to visit Tyanna’s website and see her portfolio!

Secret Fabula storytellers Tyanna Buie and Hayley Eichenbaum

Secret Fabula posterThis Sunday, 5 Milwaukee creatives will take the stage at Secret Fabula to share their stories on the theme of “Creating”. In the previous blog, we introduced Mike Brenner; now we’ll meet two more artists. We’ll introduce the last 2 artists in the next blog! Continue reading “Secret Fabula storytellers Tyanna Buie and Hayley Eichenbaum”

Mike Brenner

Secret Fabula storyteller Mike Brenner

Secret Fabula posterThis Sunday, 5 Milwaukee creatives will take the stage at Secret Fabula to share their stories on the theme of “Creating”. This profile introduces the first artist – and perhaps the most obvious choice for this event.

Mike Brenner is a local Master Brewer, writer, designer and self proclaimed arts instigator. Over the past years, he has owned and operated a gallery, co-founded MARN, and more recently started the Brenner Brewing Co., located in Walker’s Point. The brewery will offer tours and is equipped with a tasting room. Mike is also co-founder of The Pitch Project, an art gallery and artist studios, also located in Walker’s Point. Continue reading “Secret Fabula storyteller Mike Brenner”

The Vogel Mansion, also known as Greengate

Mea Fabula Profile: Andy Nunemaker & The Vogel Mansion

The Vogel Mansion, also known as Greengate, has been host to several local fundraising events and tonight welcomes Ex Fabula’s Mea Fabula. This breathtakingly stunning residence, built in 1904, boasts a pool, a gym, a coach house, a fully operational Schlitz bar, ample parking, plenty of bedrooms & bathrooms and a stunning kitchen. The mansion has had some updates since originally constructed and is currently on the market. Continue reading “Mea Fabula Profile: Andy Nunemaker & The Vogel Mansion”

Tia Chianti Richardson

Mea Fabula Artist Profile: Tia Chianti Richardson

Do you have story that transcends words? Ever been the unwilling victim of a caricature portrait? Tia Chianti Richardson, a community-integrated artist based in Milwaukee, can solve both of those problems. She is a portrait artist, muralist, graphic designer and educator. Tia will live paint your true, personal story into what will no doubt be a beautiful and personal memento or gift. Continue reading “Mea Fabula Artist Profile: Tia Chianti Richardson”

Mea Fabula Artists Profile: broadminded comedy

Photo Credit: Kat Schleicher

Ever wanted to experience something before it happens? Or maybe relive a moment in time, with a more hilarious, less embarrassing ending? The ladies of broadminded comedy, Milwaukee’s premier (and only) all-female sketch comedy group can make that a reality! The broads (Stacy Babl, Anne Graff LaDisa, Melissa Kingston and Megan McGee) will transform your true, personal story into comedy gold! You are more than welcome to record the chicas as they are replaying your story, which you can and should share with family, friends and perhaps the occasional stranger. Continue reading “Mea Fabula Artists Profile: broadminded comedy”

Ben Merens

Mea Fabula Artist Profile : Ben Merens

Do you have the music in you? Have you ever found yourself walking down the street, wishing everyone can hear the theme music in your head? Now you can! He can do it! As an improvisational singer/songwriter, Ben Merens transforms your personal tale into song, singing for you immediately after hearing you share your story. For the past three years, Ben can be found performing his craft professionally on the first Saturday of each month at Pop More Corks in Lake Geneva. Continue reading “Mea Fabula Artist Profile : Ben Merens”