Ex Fabula Team: Elaine Maly, Shawn Mitchell, Mark Weinberg, Megan McGee

By: Elaine Maly

When Ex Fabula asked if I wanted to help host an UltraShort table for the appearance of travel guru Rick Steves in celebration of Milwaukee PBS’ 65th anniversary, I jumped at the opportunity. Not just because I’m a fan of Rick Steves’ travel shows, but because Milwaukee PBS was the launch pad for my career. In fact, they sent me on my very first airplane trip to a PBS conference back in the 80s.

Our collection of UltraShorts started out slow, the audience just eager to hear Rick Steves. But as soon as Megan read a few from the stage, the flood gates opened and the team scurried around to hand out and collect them as fast as we could. Soon we had way more than we would be able to share. There were stories about unexpected connections, missed connections, miscommunication, lost luggage, romantic getaways, trying new foods, and lasting memories.

My favorites UltraShorts were about a bartender who helped a stranded couple find lodging, the Americans who were granted free entrance to the Joan of Arc Tower in France because Americans liberated Normandy, and the young woman who sent a photo of herself in in front of a home in Poland that inspired her Oma to share her WWII story.

In Steves’ presentation, he recommended that travelers do their best to connect with locals in the places they visit and exchange stories. Ah ha I thought. If we can connect Milwaukee through real stories, we can connect the world!