For some reason, the idea of organizing a storytelling retreat initimidated me. I had this notion that I had to be someone with a level of caliber and recognition, like Doug Lipman or Mary Hamilton or Kevin Strauss. Maybe I'll discover I was right about that, I'll know sometime next fall.
Still, it was taking part in Kevin's Northwoods Storytelling Retreat this past January that I started to think perhaps I could bring such an event closer to home. After all, Kevin shared that his intent when he started was to bring a retreat close to his home. Why not? Geographically, I know of Kevin's retreat in far northern Minnesota and Mary Hamilton's WOW Weekends in far southern Indiana. Others, like Nancy Donoval, periodically offer coaching intensives, often in Chicago. Maybe my "Down by the Riverside" storytelling retreat will become the event of choice for tellers in the southwestern reaches of the Northlands Storytelling Network area.
I will admit it, organizing things isn't my best quality. If I set my mind to something, I can pull out the stops and make it work, though. I'm pulling out the stops. My first step was to find a suitable location. It seems that having a place that the tellers "own" for the weekend, away from distractions, is needed for the community building that has to occur to trust one another with our work. I discovered several places within an hour's drive of my home that I never knew existed. As I bookmarked and compared, I realized that though one in particular was charming beyond belief, the facilities were a little scarce for a bunch of strangers to bunk down for two nights. I was thrilled to discover Uncle Charlie's Cabin in Lansing Iowa. I love this town. Just a half hour down the Mississippi and across a huge bridge, it's tucked in against towering Mt. Hosmer, overlooking the river. The main street has been experiencing a kind of renaissance, with new little art galleries, quilt shops and a way cool coffee shop that opened recently, The Channel Cat. I'm hoping the retreat attendees will be able to do a concert on Saturday night here. We're still working that one out.
After doing my research, I contacted the owner of Uncle Charlie's, Fred Easker, and have sent in my deposit, assuring us this spot for the weekend of September 15-16. There's even a sauna! Check out the photo tour, it's a nice spot to hang out for a weekend.
Part of my research involved doing a survey among working storytellers to get ideas for good dates. Most told me September is a pretty quiet month for them. Hopefully some will find this weekend to be just the antidote to a busy summer library program, a chance to work on material in depth, in a safe and trusting environment. An environment where perhaps if we have a lovely fall evening, we can work on the deck, watching the river traffic go by.
I've been working out the math. It looks like the weekend will cost participants $175 for everything, food, lodging and the retreat activities. Maybe I can even figure out a break for early reservations. Not bad for the chance to spend a weekend with no more than seven other tellers, crafting your material and enjoying the funky rivertown setting. Watch for brochures at the Northlands Storytelling Network conference in Madison the end of this month! I hope to have a wonderful retreat for all who venture to Lansing this fall, one that will become an annual event.
As if I couldn't have figured this one out on my own....
|You Belong in Dublin|
Friendly and down to earth, you want to enjoy Europe without snobbery or pretensions.
You're the perfect person to go wild on a pub crawl... or enjoy a quiet bike ride through the old part of town.