"We're all just walking each other home." - - Ram Dass

Friday, June 26, 2015


"It is the time of the Storycatcher.
It is the time when those who understand
 the value of story and practice of connection
Have an essential role to play...
In return, we speak, we write... we are heard.
Storycatchers invite the stories we most need
to come forward into the community.
Storycatchers know that the mix
 of wisdom and wit and wonder
that spills out into the room in story space
will reconnect us...
Come into these stories
and listen for what will connect
your life,
and mine,
and ours."
- Christina Baldwin
This excerpt from the forward of Christina Baldwin's book Storycatchers changed a lot for me. 
These few lines solidified and sharpened something that had been swirling around inside me for a long time that hadn't yet found a firm form.  With each page I highlighted, nodded my head and even wept for finally understanding what it was that I was called to do. 
I am a Storycatcher.
More than just a writer, I am driven to bring stories forward as a way to create and connect as a community.  There are very few situations in which I don't think that if people just sat down and really listened to one another that we could not come to better solutions. 
But in many ways we've forgotten how.  We no longer require the telling and learning from story for our basic survival as in the days when stories were etched into cave walls before language was invented, or through oral tradition before the written word came to us all.  Long gone are our models of listening around open fires as the elders passed their wisdom down from generation to generation.
But our need to connect is more apparent today than ever before.  We are tied to social media updating and being updated constantly with what is happening in our lives.  This too, is story.  That is what we are creating.  But unfortunately not many full stories can be told in 140 characters.
So I've dreamed of creating space to open ourselves back up to story.  To learning how to tell our own as well as listen and learn from others.  To take time out of our busy lives to curate how we process our past and what we want from the future.  To allow these stories to heal and reconnect us.
And now?  I have the space to do just that.  The Refuge.
A breathtaking building that was once a Capuchin Franciscan retreat center and now the home of Fox River Environmental Education Association and my brother Cory Chisel's creative arts office.
Over the 10 acres of property, inspiration can be found in every turn. 
My favorite space being Songbird Chapel. 
The lights dance, the birds sing, and you can feel the walls dripping with stories young and old.

This Saturday is the start of Storycatchers, through a free all-ages storytelling and writing workshop.  Because money should not keep you from learning how to tell your story.  And we for too long have gone away from the model of generations learning from one another.  These free workshops will be a place for people to explore what stories might be inside them.  To ask questions.  To receive some inspiration and encouragement along the way.  To have a chance for their story to be heard by others.

In the future we will offer more specific workshops for those who may want more guidance in the tools of creating story.  Or those who are committed to sitting with their stories a little longer.  We will have birth story classes, grief writing classes, journaling, music writing - the list goes on.

We will also be hosting storytelling nights.  Where 5-10 individuals from the community share their stories with the community.  A nod to the wonderful models out there such as The Moth and Listen To Your Mother, these nights will be dedicated to sharing the diversity of the human experience while tying loosely to the Night's theme. 

And finally, pop-up recording studio sessions where you and your families can come in and record your own personal stories and walk out with these stories pressed to CD and in your hand to be played again and again.

If you ever wondered what stories you have inside you, or wanted to take the time to get down those stories that have been passed down in your family:  Please come.

Saturday June 27th

1-4 pm

The Refuge

1000 N. Ballard Rd.
Appleton WI, 54911



  1. Gorgeous. I'm so impressed with what you are doing here. I can't wait to join you at one of the upcoming sessions.

  2. How did the Story telling night in June go? How have future story-ing workshops been?

    I didn't realize you lived in WI. I'm in MN. :) Neighbors.

    Jennifer Dougan

    1. it went really well! It is such a great thing when we hold space for the stories we have inside us. I love me some MN - lots of my family is there :) :)