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Story Telling Surprise

Hello Internet and welcome to my very first blog post! Obviously I am pretty new at this but I’m willing to give it a go if you’re willing to read it.

During the summer of 2017, I had the opportunity to work for Dogwood Alliance. They are a non-profit organization based of out Asheville working for the protection of Southern US forests. The work I did with them was a mix of event planning, working with elected officials, and coalition building with other organizations.

During my time with them I was able to work on a variety of different projects. One of the projects that I was able to be apart of was helping to organize a storytelling event that revolved around connections with the forest. The general idea of the event was to gather a group of people who had experienced something profound in relation to forests. The event, named Stories Happen in Forests, was going to consist of ten different speakers telling their own personal stories. During the planning process we aimed to have about one hundred people attend the event, which at the time seemed like a far fetched goal. This event was very different from typical Dogwood Alliance events, normally they host public demonstrations or call-in volunteer days, not live performance events.

I’m going to be honest, the idea seemed a little out there for me. Typically, I don’t find myself at events like this, I’m not the type of person who usually enjoys poetry or other types of performed arts but I was pleasantly surprised.

The event was being held in Durham so as a group we arrived a few hours before the event was going to begin. We spent the last few hours before it began we worked to decorate the event space and prepare all of the story tellers.

While we had been worried about how many people would show up but were truly blown away by the turn out, upwards of 150 people attended. The venue ended up being packed.

As the night went on I continued to be pleasantly surprised, the stories the speakers were telling were moving and so relatable. Something I expected to be strange and unapproachable turned out to be meaningful and have an unexpected impact on me. I’ve always felt a strong connection to being in nature and hearing other people’s experiences was truly accessible.

One of the best outcomes of the night was that I was able to meet a professor here in College of Natural Resources that I ended up really connecting with. The following semester I signed up to take a class with him which ended up being my favorite class of that semester. Just goes to show you never know where you’ll meet wonderful CNR faculty.

While this event was something that I hadn’t been looking forward to and had very low expectations of, it turned really wonderful. It might have been one of my favorite and most profound nights out of a summer filled with learning and self exploration.

Nonprofit in the Mountains – Read more about Carolyn’s internship and experience in Asheville