Some time back I became interested in a City of Mississauga initiative which seeks to develop The Story of Mississauga.
The initiative is outlined in a 190-page City of Mississauga report entitled the Mississauga Heritage Management Strategy:
A related report, which provides some additional background about this great project, is entitled: “City of Mississauga – Minutes of Heritage Advisory Committee (Approved May 10, 2016).”
As well, a June 1, 2016 City of Mississauga news release, which briefly highlights the project, is entitled: “City’s First Heritage Management Strategy Brings Heritage to the People.”
I attended Story of Mississauga meetings in January and March 2017
I attended a planning meeting connected with the The Story of Mississauga project in January 2017 in Toronto.
I also attended a second meeting, in the form of a storytelling workshop, in March 2017 in Mississauga.
The project is of much interest.
Quite aside from the final product that emerges from this Mississauga-oriented storytelling project (which in itself will be of interest to me), learning about the project has prompted me to think about the theory and practice of storytelling.
As well, the project has prompted me to think about the broader role of stories, and storytelling, in our lives.
Some preliminary thoughts
1) Ownership of the project. One of the first thoughts that occurs to me, just based on my experience in life, which is experience that is quite limited, is that the ownership of the stories that emerge, from the above-noted, Mississauga-based storytelling project, will be a key variable determining the success of the project. Who is going to own these stories? How will ownership be conceptualized? How will ownership be determined? Why would it matter, who has a sense of ownership of the stories, of the storytelling, of the production and distribution of the stories?
2) Ownership of the contents. You would want, for example, for Mississauga residents to have a strong sense of ownership of the content of the stories. The question that arises at once, with regard to such a goal, however, is: How do you develop a strong sense of ownership, with regard to content of stories that will be included in The Story of Mississauga?
3) Ownership of the distribution. You would want, as well, for people to have a strong sense of ownership of the process whereby the stories, whatever the stories may be, that emerge, are accessed. How do you develop such a sense of ownership, with regard to access to the stories?
4) Growth and renewal. You would want, as well, a process whereby new stories are constantly added to the mix. How can such a process of change and renewal be ensured?
As I say, these are things that occur to me, off the top of my head.
I speak, with regard to these points, on the basis of my own particular – and limited – mindset and worldview.
When you, as a site visitor, ponder the question of what The Story of Mississauga should entail, it is likely that you would come up with an entirely different set of thoughts.
Whatever thoughts may occur to you, I will be interested to know what they are. You can make a comment at the end of this blog, or you can contact me by email.
What is storytelling?
In my way of looking at storytelling, a person can define storytelling however she or he likes.
One version of storytelling, by way of example, involves having a person, known as a storyteller, entertain an audience for an hour with stories. In order to be entertaining, in such a scenario, you have to have some skill as a storyteller; some production values, of one kind or another, must be in evidence, that will enable you to put together a great show, as an entertainer.
Another version of storytelling, by way of example, involves having a person write a work of fiction that is published as a short story or novel. Again, you want something that is compelling and interesting.
In another scenario, storytelling might involve a work of non-fiction, as in a news report or a book-length study that focuses on some particular topic; again, you need to attract an audience, and hold the attention of your readers from start to finish of your story.
A fake news story appearing in a televised broadcast, or a speech or series of tweets featuring a wide assortment of lies and gaslighting, can also readily qualify as a form of storytelling. Lies and gaslighting can be hugely compelling and entertaining, and can serve all manner of purposes, including cultural and physical genocide.
By way of a subsequent post, now that I’m at least a little bit warmed up for the task, I will describe a form of storytelling that I have found of particular cogency and interest, over the past couple of weeks that I’ve been reading a particular work of non-fiction.
Stories from the Brookings Institution
I first became interested, years ago, in the work of the Brookings Institution when I read studies, that the Institution had published, concerning the long-term economic benefits of optimal early childhood learning. This happens to be a topic of much interest to me. I was impressed with the quality of the reports that I read, and had enough experience and knowledge of the field of early childhood education to be able to understand the significance of these, particular research reports, with accompanying policy recommendations, that I read many years ago.
The recent work in question, on a distantly related topic, that I will highlight in a subsequent post, is by Fiona Hill and Clifford G. Gaddy.
Fiona Hill is director of the Center on the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution and a senior fellow in Foreign Policy at Brookings.
Clifford G. Gaddy is a senior fellow in Foreign Policy at Brookings.
The storytelling that I refer to, as the topic for a subsequent post, is entitled:
This book makes for a great feat of storytelling, as I will explain, in the post that will follow.
An article in the March 27, 2017 issue of the New Yorker is entitled: “The Reclusive Hedge-Fund Tycoon behind the Trump Presidency: How Robert Mercer exploited America’s populist insurgency.”