By Judith Black ©2016
I’m a storyteller. It’s my job to welcome and ferry people safely through journeys of both real life and long ago and far away.
Do you ever find that your mind is not cross referencing your skill sets? An example:
“OMG…we are out of baking powder, this is a disaster! What am I going to do?” You’ve completely forgotten that you are a chemist and know how to create this substance out of simple ingredients.
For some reason, my little brain forgets my storytelling skills the minute issues of the environment come up. I react and rant. When ranting, I can clear a living room, a conference room, or a Jets-Patriots game at Gillette Stadium within two minutes! I’ve been at it for some 4 decades, thus, my sister, an otherwise kind and compassionate woman, has had it with me. We’ll be out to lunch and the guy at the next table will order a 16 oz steak. She can see me twitch, but just then my attention is drawn to 5 teenagers pulling up in separate SUVS! They jump out of their vehicles, fist bump, and come in for a table. Behind them, two beautiful young mothers with their babies walk in, drinking water they purchased in plastic bottles from a nearby 7-11. My whole body starts to twitch. My sister says, “Judy…no…no.”
But I am off and running: “I have to explain to that man how poor overgrazing techniques are causing desertification, drawing even more heat to the planet, and he’d probably be just as happy as a vegetarian getting his protein lower on the food chain. And all the gas-guzzling monster cars are just contributing to greenhouse gases, shouldn’t those boys be carpooling or riding bicycles,? Do those beautiful young women understand that plastic bottles leach endocrinedisrupting chemicals that are a major contributor to breast cancer and that the plastic will last longer than their bodies, and…”
My sister puts her hands firmly on my shoulders, waits until I am looking at her dead in the eye and, like a stern mother, pronounces, “Judy, nobody gives a shit.” All the air leaves my body as I realize she is pretty much right, and that my ranting has probably encouraged a proliferation of committed water bottledrinking, meat-eating, SUV drivers. Honestly, I don’t even like myself when I rant!
Physician, heal thyself! Don’t alienate people, create understanding and empathy for what is going on. Tell stories. And so, about 6 months ago, in search of a compelling story, I dove deep into climate science and discovered that changing our relationship with fossil fuels is no longer a choice. It is an immediate imperative if we are to leave an part of a livable planet for our children and grandchildren. Let’s use our skill set towards this goal. As a start, I invited you to use this curriculum guide in shaping stories about our environment for young people: http://storiesalive.com/science-to-stories-curriculum-guide/ Stories for the adult community are forthcoming.
New perspectives of our national history, tickling familial dysfunction, aging, and human quirks, are all fodder for Judith’s tales. Featured on stages from the Montreal Comedy Festival to The Smithsonian Institution, to the Art Museum of Cape Town, she has appeared 10 times at the National Storytelling Festival, and is the winner of the Oracle Award, storytelling’s most coveted laurel. Judith teaches two classes annually:
Summer: Telling Stories to children
Winter: Making Stories from Your Life