Molly Kittle is the creator and host of STORY, a monthly story-sharing event that takes place at Verve Wellness Studio on Cortland Avenue. For the past two and a half years she has been holding events that allow people to share their stories in creative, authentic and brave ways. Molly talked with us about her mission to connect people to their voice, their purpose and to each other with the community that’s blossomed from the events. Molly tells us about her desire to make the act of collaborating, by sharing a story, more accessible and gratifying for people.
STORY is about deconstructing a myth that some people are performers and some aren’t. That certain people belong on the stage and others in the audience, and that’s the only model there is.
I believe sharing our stories is the most natural way for people to connect.
Volunteer storytellers have five minutes to stand up and tell the group a personal story. Then the audience shares their reflections about what they have heard. We usually have about five to ten storytellers each night.
It’s a way to make everyone’s voices stronger and more clear. I feel it’s important now more than ever.
It’s necessary right now for people to learn to use their voices. Currently, the people who have the authority and are empowered to use their voices aren’t being responsible. So regular, average, human beings need to share their stories to even the playing field.
The only way for change to happen is for people to lift up their own voices by sharing their stories. And these storytellers need to be witnessed and heard so some kind of positive action can emerge.
But first, we have to feel the strength to do that — it’s a frightening time and we’ve been conditioned to conform and be silent.
In college, I was an experimental theater major. I went to school to learn how to perform. What I’m co-creating here is very different.
People who are shy, underserved or repressed, have the most beautiful stories that others can relate to. And we need more places for that to happen.
I’m creating a space for organic human connection. Where people who don’t consider themselves storytellers, stand up and prove that they have something touching and important to say. It’s about identity rather than performance.
We’ve all heard someone say, “Oh – I’m not a singer.”
We decide at a very young age who were are and who we aren’t based on what we’ve been told. There’s not a lot of room for flexing certain muscles once you’ve internalized the message that you don’t have a gift.
So this is a place to demonstrate that we all the gift and it’s a matter of standing up and using it. We all have a voice. It’s about being in a brave space that encourages us to play with it.
We’re biologically hardwired to understand stories — that’s not something I have to teach anybody. Storytelling is in the fabric of our bones.
We shift the focus away from the audience as a passive observer and turn them into active participants. Instead of people only clapping after or asking questions, we give our reflections to help us digest each person’s story.
The teller shares their story, then the audience has an opportunity to reflect on how that made them feel. Or maybe something they learned. It’s not an opportunity for critique. It’s an opportunity to be seen as someone who’s co-creating a moment of connection with someone who has just shared something.
Yep, it absolutely does.
In the early days of STORY, there was this endless reflection period. Because it started to spark things in other people, and the next thing you know everyone’s having a conversation. So we’ve had to reign it in a little bit. Now we ask for a few reflections and they are focused and finite.
But I feel like that’s a really good sign. It shows me that as a community, once we’re unburdened by the passive role and people are really eager to engage. That’s hopeful.
I get asked all the time, “Which is a good story or what story should I tell?” Usually, people come to me feeling like they have a lot of “stories” and can’t decide, but often they’re more like anecdotes.
Together we look at their why. Why MUST you tell THIS story? What is meaningful for you about this story?
The process starts to become heart-focused, rather than content-focused. Why would you choose to tell this story versus that one?
We go a layer deeper rather than looking at the events that transpired that were the funniest or the saddest or most witty. What hits you in the heart in a way that makes you want to share this? Or perhaps share a lesson you learned that would be helpful to others.
My approach is about finding something you feel you must share rather than what’s the best content. Or the wildest or funniest. I help people get out of the head and into the heart.
Website: Connect With Story (you can register ahead)
Instagram: Connect With Story
Facebook: Connect With Story
STORY is hosted once a month at Verve Wellness Studio, 1231 Cortland Avenue, SF
Photos courtesy of Molly Kittle at STORY & Jen Baxter
Jen Baxter is a content writer and strategist helping companies creatively craft the story of their business online. You can see more of her work at JenBaxter.com.