5th Orcas Storyfest: Another Gem Shines Again!!

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With the new Storyfest logo on Tee-shirts, images on sandwichboards and announcements in the local paper and blog the “buzz” was buzzing on the lips and ears of the local community on Orcas Island. Now in it’s fifth biennial cycle, the return of the festival brought delight to young and old.



JULY 28, SUNDAY: WELCOME IN THE FOREST
It’s a welcome potluck meal in the forest for our tellers of the 2013 Orcas Storyfest: Crab spaghetti, barbecue roasted corn, baked beans, salads galore, and yummy desserts to die for! What a feast and a wonderful way to welcome our visiting tellers from near and far.The final delicious dish of the feast are our tellers spinning story samplers on our small deck in the forest to sate their sweet tooth for listening: Doug Banner (Bellingham WA), Heather Forest (Huntington NY), Ruth Halpern, and Kirk Waller (both from Oakland CA)… and of course your truly, Eth-Noh-Tec, (San Fran-Orcas, CA-WA). Judith Black (Marblehead MA) was still enroute – sadly ferries don’t come on our beck and call! We are so grateful all our visiting local and national artists for their participation in this 5th Storyfest on the island.

GODDESSES IN THE GARDEN
After the feast, Nancy and Robert led a quick jaunt down to the summer veggie garden exploding with ruby chard, collards, Russian kale, turnips, and plenty of different squashes. Tons of tomatoes still green, and lots of beans and peas, cabbage growing, and so many beautiful cosmos and sweet pea flowers, too. Many of our guests, both volunteers and artists, have their own “green thumb” with huge gardens back home. They lent us newbies a wealth of “green wisdom”.

BUSY BEES: OUR VOLUNTEERS!
WOW! We couldn’t have done this without the aide of three most amazing volunteers. They helped to set up, stir-fry, toss salads, clean-up, scrub down, and organize so much of the behind-the-scenes action in producing Storyfest. Super Les Katsura from Walnut Creek and ENT’s loyal and vivacious intern Nina Sakamoto-Bazan came up from the SF Bay Area who joined our long-time friend and super volunteer Melani Nagao from Seattle.


All three were such an essential muscle-and-brain power for Storyfest. We set up tents for them to sleep in our forest (Camp Storyfest) and they would rise and shine each morning to make sure the meals, coffee, and tea were set up for the artists. When they weren’t on site in k-p duty they were transporting the storytellers and setting up as stage crew: mics, chairs, ticket and product tables for each of the shows. We are SOOOO grateful for the commitment, up beat energy and long hours spent each day. BIG arigatoo- gozaimasu (thank you!) to Les, Melani, and Nina… a tremendous contribution to Storyfest. And as Melani expressed: how did you do it with just the two of you before?!! (Truth: storytellers helped some before, lending a hand – like family).

JULY 29, MONDAY: JAMMIE TIME
They came in their “jammies”, decorated images of teddy bears and toys, and ready to cozy up on blankets… for an early evening outdoor storytime. This year we tried something different: outdoors under the trees and in the shade before the Northwest setting sun. Normally this concert for younger kids is indoors, typically crowded into the small room of the library. Summer weather was behaving so we took to the lawn and set up our stage. Thank you Orcas Library!

JULY 29, TUESDAY AFTERNOON CONCERT: WITTY & WISE:
As Nancy and I have been attending the Senior Center and several activities there on a weekly basis, we’ve gathered quite a connection with the elders of this vibrant community – or rather vibrant seniors in this community! Not at all the stereotypical, sedate and gloomy scene of many senior centers, this center is anything but lethargic… and when it comes to storytelling, they LOVE the festival drawing one of our largest crowds during the week. We are most grateful for Marla Johns, the center’s director who is new and an enthusiastic support of Storyfest.

JULY 29, TUESDAY EVENING: SPOOKY!
The Funhouse became a Spooky House on that Tuesday evening with our storytellers haunting the stages with frightful tales of shapeshifting runaway slave from the South, a Japanese dancing skeleton, and more. One of our challenges is to choose stories that are scary enough for the older crowd but… not TOO frightening for the younger crowd. Nina, our volunteer donned the persona of a ghoulish vamp trying her hand at being the evening’s ‘deadish’ EmCee. Thank you Pete Moe and all the staff at the Fun House!

JULY 30, WEDNESDAY EVENING: SACRED TALES:
This festival marked a “first” and quite successful crowd turn out for our evening of Sacred stories. Typically, storytelling festivals have these kinds of concerts on Sunday mornings, but hey!.. we do things differently our West, and in the Northwest, in this most beautiful setting of Creation, the stories of personal transformation, the holy stories of myth, magic, and enlightenment were a perfect fit for the location: the Emmanuel Episcopal Parish Hall. Besides the tellers we brought to the island, Antoinette Botsford and Anji Ringzin joined us with beautiful sacred stories. And thank you Emmanuel Episcopal Parish Hall. –

MORE MUSIC TOO!
Another “first” for our festival was the expansion and inclusion of more local musical groups. The Senior Center’s, “Songbirds” brought musical whimsy and harmony to the opening concert there. The Bhajans, is a devotional singing ensemble from Orcas Island inspiring a deep connection to the divine by sharing sacred songs from around the world in a contemporary offering infused with a soothing groove and an infectious dose of “whomp”. Finally, the harmonies and down-home country strumming of the Parking Angels filled the Oddsfellows Hall for the final Storyfest concert. We’re so proud of this local island talent, the variety, the beauty and the fun time they infuse the audience with. They were such a complimentary accent to the week of storytelling.

THURSDAY JULY 31: WORLD OF STORIES
Our final performances were beautifully told to an appreciative audience – tales from home, tales from abroad. The emcee, Doug Banner, gave us a special treat with several 5 sentence stories that were superb! We were all superb, actually. Storytelling is such an amazing art form and the tellers we invite are topnotch – also known as ‘national tellers’ – all of whom are in much demand nationally and internationally, and who make their living from telling stories. The Oddfellows Hall has walls whispering our stories!

FRIDAY AUG. 1: FISHBOWL FORUM: WHY STORIES?…
The other first for the festival was the Friday finale of the week: a “fishbowl” forum addressing the power of storytelling applied in communities. Each of the tellers, coming from their various communities, use storytelling far beyond the stage as a tool for social change and community empowerment. Doug Banner talked about the “Flow Project” that uses the power of narrative and power of Art to transform communities. Heather Forest shared how her telling of a story inspired her to do something about ending hunger in her community. With the local interfaith community she asked the direct question “What are we going to do about it? which resulted in the creation of acres of community gardens for a food bank. Ruth Halpern uses storytelling in business and corporate settings.

Kirk Waller shared his projects with Stagebridge which included an intergenerational storytelling component between elderly and youth. Judith Black told of her work with war and it’s impact on families that last forever on the psyche and emotional/psychological systems of soldiers and their communities. Nancy shared several anecdotes about how she incorporated storytelling with her work as a psychotherapist, working with clients on issues of healing, molestation, and forgiveness. Robert Kikuchi-Yngojo (SF CA) gave a powerpoint on some of Eth-Noh-Tec’s international, cultural bridge building and storytelling projects in Singapore, Philippines, India and China.

…AND WHY SING!? … WHY NOT?!!
To cap off the evening, we opened up the grand piano and welcomed piano genius, Mary Meyers, to play from her vast repertoire of sing-along songs. We storytellers know how to have a good time! Once again, thank you Senior Center.

TELLERS AHOY! and UP UP and AWAY!
and IN for a TREAT! While most evenings were dedicated to storytelling shows, the daytimes were set aside for various Northwest activities. Captain Fred Franke launch his boat as the storytelling crew jumped on board for sea level sight seeing boasting the beauty of the San Juan marine life upfront and center: starfish below, bald eagles above and sea lions bobbing between the pristine aqua marine waves of the Puget Sound’s inland seas. Jack Becker lifted a few into the air for a different and still gorgeous view of the San Juans. Unfortunately the foggy weather prevented more air lifts by Jack and by Bev Franklet. But those days were perfect for Leo Lambiel’s art museum/showcase, and the Orcas Historical Museum.

CONTRIBUTIONS, CORNUCOPIA & CASSEROLES TOO!
As the storytellers have donated their performances for the all community events throughout the island, the community in turn has poured out to thank them in various ways: food vendors and restaurants Island Market, The Market, Mijitas, Sazio, Enzo’s Café, Portofino Pizza, The Kitchen, Roses Café, Senior Center, and Maple Rock Farm. In addition, Island Hoppin Brewery, Iron Skillet offered meals and gift certificates, while Coffelt Farm and Bullocks Farm offered donated vegetables, but alas, we ran out of time to collect. Our Grand Queen of Casseroles, Marj Franke did a TREMENDOUS job rallying the commanders of the kitchen as garnered casseroles and other main dishes, salads, and plenty of desserts found their way to our home to feed our hungry storytelling crew for the week.
Our salutations of gratitude to Marj for her organizational meal master-mind but also to: Joyce Greene, Betty Egan, Ellie Stewart, Bronwen Jones, Jean Wellington, Robbie Walker, Marj Franke, Barb Ehrmantraut, Dan & Carlene Kim, Eleanor Peterson, Patty Thompson, Lawrence Jackson, Judith Black, and Nancy and Robert’s veggie garden for the creation of those delicious donated meals! And finally, lodging hosts and hostesses: Maura O’Neill and Michael Harnett, Brian Erhmantraut and Moana Kutsche, and David and Geri Turnoy. Their space and their gracious hosting were so appreciated. Thanks for everyone’s generosity! We’re so proud to be part of this loving community! And, if any of you are passing through or visiting Orcas Island, please support these generous businesses with your patronage, or if you meet/see any of the above-named persons, thank them! They have all proved how wonderful this world can be!

BUT WAIT! THE FUN WASN’T OVER!
After the intense performance and production schedule of Orcas Storyfest, storytellers and volunteers were able to take in a visit to regional points of destination. Here is the volunteer crew raising an imaginary champaign toast on the top deck of a ferry bound for a day of play on nearby Friday Harbor (town) on San Juan Island. Of course also enjoy several Northwest pleasures of the pallette: fried oysters, fish and chips, and ice cream. The next day, before the airplanes wisked people away, we visited the Anacortes Art Fair, then the historic Asian American community of Seattle’s International District.
A quick cup of Chai at the famous Panama Hotel. Upon the walls of this antiquated hotel, not only were the photographs of the once thriving Pre-War 2, Japanese American community, but also a close up, block-by-block map showing the names and locations of Japanese American family run businesses. This is the famous hotel where, in the basement, were the unclaimed family items, suitcases and luggage of several Japanese American families who, like over a hundred thousand Japanese American citizens were rounded up, evacuated, and relocated to remote dessert concentration camps. Their only crime: being Americans of Japanese Ancestry at the launch of the war against Japan. The unclaimed items are on display and can be seen still stored in the basement, frozen in time, through a plexi-glass panel on the main floor of the lobby.

FINAL NOTE:
Last, but not least, thank you to the Friends of the Orcas Library, to Mindplace and Carlene and Dan Kim for their sponsorship of Orcas Storyfest 2013 and for the ease of marketing and getting the word out through Chamber of Commerce eblast, the Sounder and Orcas Issues. See you in 2015? The next Orcas Storyfest!

Filed as: Articles, At the Moment, Orcas Storyfest