For a couple years now, Shawn Braley and Chris Ashwell have been gathering people together from various Cincinnati neighborhoods and placing them on stages around town for a bimonthly storytelling event.
If you’re even remotely engaged with the community, you’ll know these events as Cincy Stories, the award-winning organization that brings the community together through the art of storytelling.
The goal is simple: Equip someone with a mic and a stage to tell a story about his/her life. This, in turn, helps promote empathy and allows understanding to take root where emotional barriers once existed.
THE BIMONTHLY EVENT
Most Cincy Stories events are held at MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine, but they’ve been held elsewhere on occasion. Local personalities, politicians, entrepreneurs, civic leaders, and other well-known folks around town have spoken at these events.
Some past notables have included:
- Molly Wellman
- Chris Seelbach
- Derrick Braziel
- Allen Woods
- Bill Rinehart
- Jim Tarbell
But people who aren’t necessarily well-known participate as well. You don’t have to be an expert mixologist on city council who simultaneously runs a non-profit and does a popular radio show to tell your story (although, if you are that person, please email Shawn right now about doing an event because you sound amazing).
THE WALNUT HILLS STORY GALLERY
If you’ve never been to a Cincy Stories event, you can still get in on the action by heading to its brick and mortar storefront in the Trevarren Flats building in Walnut Hills (next to the Video Archive).
There, you can watch videos of others’ stories on wall-mounted flat screens with headphones (known as the Story Wall), relax in a comfortable lounge outfitted with story-starting topic cards, and check out the Story Booth at the back of the room. That's where you can commit your own tale to a recording. As a bonus, there’s free coffee.
The storefront is located in Walnut Hills to collect the stories of residents. Walnut Hills itself is given nods throughout the space, with framed photos and cards outlining the history of the neighborhood.
There are a lot of unanswered questions in life, but one thing is for certain. Our personal stories are the fundamental fabric of who we are and inform our next move. Sharing valuable insight and experience is essential to a community that listens.
Cincy Stories is a growing amalgam of these insights and experiences; thus, it exists as one of the most valuable tools our city has. The more people share through Cincy Stories, the better off we all are.
The question at this point becomes whether or not you’ll tell your own story while the mic is still hot.
You know that amazing story you’ve been sitting on for a while now? Cincy Stories wants to hear it. Check out their website and visit the Story Gallery at 961 E McMillan St, Cincinnati, OH 45206.