Season 14 is here, and we’ve barely had time to celebrate the amazing work done in Season 13. Given my long to-do list, I felt tempted to skip this post… but I won’t. In fact, I believe we need to celebrate our achievements more often.

We already do this internally at staff meetings. Our weekly standing agenda has a few minutes to do shoutouts –  of ourselves, the storytelling coaches, the storytellers, our partners and members and funders, the volunteers… and everyone who makes this work possible!  It helps us to focus on assets and notice incremental changes. It also reminds us to express gratitude to others. Given all the challenges and stressors in the world, I find it really important to point my brain in that direction ☺️.

S0,  shall we? Here are some of Ex Fabula’s Season 13 accomplishments! 

  • Hosted 191 events, including in-person StorySlams!
  • Featured 108 stories on stage, including over 60 first-time tellers!
  • Carried out a Mental Health storytelling project that leveraged personal stories to reduce mental health stigma; included storytelling workshops in partnership with NAMI SE WI, Grand Avenue Club, and Black Space, a curated StorySlam in January 2022, and the sharing of stories via media partnerships.
  • Partnered with Milwaukee Film on “Around the Table: Stories of Food and Culture”, a curated StorySlam as part of their 2021 Cultures and Communities Festival.
  • Performed stories at Visit Milwaukee’s Spotlight on the Arts event which was attended by national news representatives.
  • Launched Real Stories MKE – where we shared over 60 stories on WUWM 89.7, online, and as a podcast!
  • Helped members of Northwestern Mutual D&I councils around the country to craft and share stories about their work; this involved multiple virtual workshops for 4 cohorts.
  • Partnered with the Medical College of Wisconsin’s Office of Community Engagement to present 4-session, interactive workshop series: “Creating Narratives for Authentic Partnership Development”.
  • Hosted an in-person Teen StorySlam at Newline Community Café where 10 young people shared stories; those young folks each received a stipend as well.
  • Continued to host Brave Space affinity group storytelling spaces with a focus on stories that advance health equity and healing.
  • Welcomed Amy, Shannon, Mark W, Mark S, and Kim to our team of Storytelling coaches.
  • Co-hosted a curated StorySlam for a Kinship Community Food Center as part of their rebranding efforts.
  • Hosted bilingual English and Spanish language storytelling workshops for CORE El Centro staff and participants.
  • Delivered an interactive, story-filled Keynote at NAMI SE WI’s “Finding Your Strength” wellness conference.
  • Expanded our youth programming, which led to working with over 350 unique young people at organizations including Vel Phillips Juvenile Justice Center, Teens Grow Greens, COA Goldin Center, Escuela Verde, and Independence First.
  • Hosted day-long “Stories of Vocational Discernment” sessions in Spring and Fall for Marquette University and St. Joan Antida students.
  • Welcomed new Youth Engagement Specialist JJ Draper.
  • Promoted Alea McHatten to Program Director.
  • Created a strategic plan for Season 14 that involves continued equity work and increasing staff compensation to retain talent.
  • Received a $10K matching challenge from an anonymous donor – and met the match!
  • Kicked off the 4thyear of the Deaf Stories Project, in collaboration with Milwaukee Public Library, and contracted a Deaf person to help market the project events to the Deaf community.
  • Identified four new board members to join in Season 14, and said goodbye to two amazing long-term board members, David Lee and Rae Johnson.
  • Continued doing the work and learning.

I’m sure there are others – so feel free to add on in the comments. And in the vein of gratitude: no matter how big or small your role, thank you for being part of this work and this community  ❤️