Transcript : Your Story Matters - And So Do All of the Stories Storytellers Share at Tell Us Something
TUS012-010-Missoula Gives Special Verbiage
[Marc Moss] Hi, it’s Marc Moss, Executive Director at Tell Us Something
[Dick King] And ended up going to Afghanistan 71. So that’s the beginning of the story, you know, that, uh, when I thought about that at that time, and when I told the story to tell us something, it was, uh, you know, uh, interesting would think about what’s, you know, what do I have to say? Well, everyone has something to say that can, can.
Highlights and things on the inside, what really happens, you know, not the big news, the headline news
[Marc Moss] That was Dick King, saying what I have been saying for years: Everyone has a story. Then, I always ask: what’s yours? Our stories don’t have to be earth-shattering stories of epiphany or revelation. They can be as simple as running out of gas in front of a huge box store and having someone help you out.
[Katrina Farnum] So yes, this is a story of me running out of gas in my car. And, I am going to just avoid telling you how many times in my life that I have run out of gas in my car. There are probably some psychologists in the room they’re evaluating me right now.
[Marc Moss] And those stories can be quite compelling. That was Katrina Farnum from the March 2022 live storytelling event.
Here’s Dick King again.
[Dick King] You know, so what I really liked about Tell Us Something, as I thought through that, and then, you know, you helped me get that kind of get my thoughts organized. And it was a real pleasure to talk to people then, uh, uh, do that as Jason, then afterwards continue that discussion with people and they had their stories told.
So I thought it was a really positive experience.
[Marc Moss][ Sharing stories goes beyond entertainment. It goes beyond a night out. The stories we share at Tell Us Something are the stories of our lives and of our community. And without you sharing your stories, there would be no Tell Us Something. Without your financial support in the form of ticket sales and donations during fundraisers like Missoula Gives, there would be no Tell Us Something.
And so, for this week’s podcast, we’re exploring why Tell Us Something is important to the storytellers themselves. Let’s hear from the storytellers what they love about Tell Us Something, what they love about their experience sharing their stories.
First, though, a brief message from Missoula Community Foundation Executive Director marcy Allen. For those that don’t know, Missoula Community Foundation is the organization that organizes the annual online giving event called Missoula Gives.
[Marcy Allen] Hello Missoula! We have raised just about $1.2 million in 26 hours for Missoula and Bitterroot non-profits. We are so grateful for all the donors and all the volunteers and all the nonprofit staff that has worked to make this day special and works to make our community special.
[Marc Moss] You know the importance of storytelling. You know the importance of sharing stories. And some of you have already stepped up to help keep Tell Us Something going. Missoula Gives has been extended through May 13. So far 62 donors have given $6,327 to support Tell Us Something. Every dollar helps. Donating as little as $10 enters you into a raffle to win season tickets for the remainder of 2022.
Oh, what’s that Marcy?
[Marcy Allen] You can still give until May 13th, and we encourage you to give.
[Marc Moss]That’s right! The giving portal is still open. Go to tellussomething.org and click DONATE to be taken directly to the Missoula Gives donation portal. Thank you so much.
Let’s start at the beginning. What a very fine place to start, right? When I talked to Jeremy N. Smith as part of the meet the Storytellers of Tell Us Something series back in 2020, I told him that the storytelling event that he produced back in around 2004 or 2005 was the first live in-person storytelling event that I had attended. I was blown away by the stories that he, Josh Slotnick, Gary Delp, Caroline Keyes and others told that night at The PEAS Farm here in Missoula, Montana. He called that event “Eat Our Words”, and it happened in the late summer, when the harvest at The PEAS Farm was in full swing. It was one of the inspirations to make Tell Us Something become a regular event when I took over what was then called Missoula Moth in 2011. Here’s Jeremey after I thanked him for the inspiration that because Tell Us Something:
[Jeremy N. Smith] Well, That’s amazing just because I know how amazing the events you put are are, and how you’ve seen it grow and how much storytelling you’ve nurtured and just how the audience is so moved. So to be like, I’m the father of the father of the father of all that pleasure in my own way. It’s, it’s a lot of, I’m like 8 times removed from all that hard work and amazing stories, but it’s just, that’s, that’s inspiring to me because it means you can just do something that’s kind of random and cool, and, you know, you can do it three or four times and it can have this other effect.
So thank you. And you’re just never, I say that to people all the time, like you don’t, you know that good. You do, but you also, like how else could you don’t know that you do yeah. A follow up. So you know, back at you, I hope you’re, you know, I know you’re getting good feedback, but just whatever feedback you’re getting. Each of those people is speaking for so many other people.
[Marc Moss] Jeremy has shared 2 stories at Tell Us Something. In fact, he closed out the very first Tell Us Something event at The Missoula Art Museum in 2011. His story was about a crush that he had and pushing through the feelings of a crush and getting to know them as a person. And it was about more than that. Listening to it again, it was also about the power of storytelling.
[Jeremy N. Smith] Her story was even more beautiful to me. And I realized at the end of her story, she had figured out what she wanted to be a coach. And I figured out what I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to hear people’s stories about their life changing moments or where they changed other people’s lives. And I wanted to share them with other people.
[Marc Moss] We’ll find, as we listen to this episode of the podcast, that the storytellers had fun sharing their stories, they felt heard and that they are grateful to have been able to share their stories live onstage. Here’s storyteller Laura King, from Helena.
[Laura King] Laura King: No, I just, I really appreciated the opportunity of that, that you gave of having a platform to tell it. So thank you for that.
[Marc Moss] As we listen to each storyteller, you may be curious about the stories that they shared. [Laura clip]
When you visit tellussomething.org and look at the show notes for this episode of the podcast, you’ll be able to click through to each of the storyteller’s stories.
Melody Rice shared a story in 2019 at The Covellite Theater in Butte.
[Melody Rice] I walk into this barbershop and I say, Hey, I’m wondering if you’re interested in hiring somebody to be in that second chair. And the guy turns and looks at me and he says, I don’t hire women. And I go, huh. And he says, there’s a guy down the street that does. So I, I back out because I know that barbers have sharp things and I can feel how intensely like angry or whatever he was to me.
[Marc Moss] She really gets Tell Us Something:
[Melody Rice] Um, And when other people share their stories, there’s it becomes part of us. So there’s a couple of layers in my view of how storytelling is so important and women being able to externalize your narrative, you have a story that lives in you. And I think it was my line and a little bit said something to the effect of, um, there’s no bigger tragedy than having a story in you not expressed.
[Marc Moss] Going in to 2020, Tell Us Something had a lot of momentum. We sold out 4 shows at The Wilma, we nearly sold out The Myrna Loy in Helena, we had our first visit to Butte, America, and we were getting ready to do the same thing in 2020, adding stops in again in Butte and Helena, as well as Livingston, and Gardener.
Wendy Wollett, a storyteller who shared a story that she called “Blackfoot River Horse” reflects on Tell Us Something during the pandemic:
[Wendy Woollett] People are still telling me that people still go there, you know? Cause when they Google my name, that’s the first thing that comes up is Tell Us Something 2017 or whatever.
Yeah. So I, I recommend people, you know, listen to it and then I try to sell, Tell Us Something, you know? Cause I think it’s such a great idea. It was fun. What are we going to do now?
[Marc Moss] What are we going to do now?
When the pandemic hit, I didn’t know *WHAT* to do. So I asked the storytellers to guide me. Let’s meet the storytellers! I put out the call, and about 20 storytellers responded that they’d like to sit down with me and talk about storytelling, about their story, about Tell Us Something and about what’s been going on with them. Those conversations are still coming out.
What I did, what Tell Us Something did, was host donation based and free storytelling workshop intensives on Zoom. We streamed two live storytelling events with all new stories from brand new storytellers.
But Wendy was right in asking the question
[Wendy Woolleett] It was fun. What are we going to do now?
[Marc Moss] Well, donate that’s what. That loss of revenue really impacted us. Help us keep the lights on. The giving portal is still open. Go to tellussomething.org and click the DONATE button to be taken straight to the donation page.
Here’s Melody again:
[Melody Rice] Uh, reinventing how this going to be in order for it to fit in the coronavirus pandemic and the norm for other people that continue to allow that healing to happen, even though based with faith or live audience, um, a way of storytelling can happen right now. So, um, thank you. Thank you for your motivation.
Thank you for your creativity in this. Um, thank you for your dedication, dedication to it, to allowing people to share and to, um, receive the story.
[Marc Moss] And Missoula author and storyteller alumni Neil McMahon weighs in about the importance of Tell Us Something to this community.
[Neil McMahon] Hey, let me just say I don’t, uh, I don’t want to blow smoke or anything, but I just want to say, uh, you know, this is really a terrific program. Tell us something. And I think a lot of people realize that you put a lot of work into it, and there’s a great appreciation for that.
[Marc Moss] I hope that it survives this pandemic.
[Neil McMahon] Well we sure hope so too, but it’s gotta be tough.
[Marc Moss] When I greet you at the live in-person storytelling events, I open the evening by saying It is important to actively listen to one another, join together, & to support each other and share stories. This is your community. These are your stories. I go on to say, Thank you for your support of each other and of each other’s stories. Tell Us Something believes that everyone has a story and everyone’s story matters. Everyone is welcome to share a story. Yes, it can be scary and intimidating to call the pitch line, and, you got this! Here’s storyteller Travis Doria explaining how he came to understand that he wanted to share his story.
[Travis Doria] So I was familiar with Tell Us Something hasn’t paid. Citi event. , I think it’s something that Ms. Lou should be really proud of to have a storytelling community for being such a small town.
It’s a Shaundra of a creative expression that I think is growing in larger cities. And to have that and to speak uniquely to the Montana experience, and specifically Zula is really beneficial. So. Whenever I could, I would have to get out to tell us something events and it’s something I wanted to support.
But I guess I was the type of person whenever I heard someone’s story, it would prompt me to think of things that happened in my past. And always wondered if I could do it. , could tell a story myself. What I went specifically made me think of it. I think I was listening to a podcast at work and I thought of this story in the past.
And I was like, oh, I really could put this together. And to. Succinct 10 minutes story. And it would be something I would be comfortable telling on stage. And I think I called to pitch it that night.
[Marc Moss] One of the things that I love about Tell Us Something is that I don’t announce who the storytellers are ahead of time, and you still show up. You come to the event not to listen to a specific individual, you show up and you listen to your community share their stories. Brian Upton shared a story at Tell Us Something in 2015. He remembers a reason that he loves Tell Us Something, and it’s that storytellers interpret the themes in so many unexpected ways.
[Brian Upton] Brian Upton: Anybody that hasn’t been to a tell us something event is one of the things I’ve always appreciated too, is that in a number of the events, there’ll be a side splitting, hilarious story. The same night as there can be a really, really moving emotional, sometimes traumatic story that just in some ways they just don’t go together at all. And in other ways it’s a great way to, um, really appreciate the, either emotional depth of one story or the humor in another story, because you get to compare them to each other. Okay. It kind of lets you kind of travel a whole human gamut in one night and I’ve always appreciated that.
[Marc Moss] And the audience is as important as the storytellers at a Tell Us Something event. The audience holds space the the stories. They hold space for the storytellers.
Here’s storyteller Shelby Humphries:
[Shelby Humphries] It was at the Top Hat, and that room was packed, which I loved, but I have since been at the Wilma and you know, what that manages to feel really intimate as well. I think Missoula does a great job of showing up when we can. And, uh, I got to benefit from it that night
[Marc Moss] Can you hold space right now by donating to Tell Us Something? I’m asking you to show up for each other right now. Show up for the storytellers, who are paid to share their stories, show up for the photographers who are hired to capture the event with their cameras. Show up for the poster artists who make beautiful artwork to convince you to come, to let you know that yes, these stories are happening! Showing up is easy, go to tellussomething.org and click the DONATE link to give any amount that you can. Tell Us Something has 1,639 Instagram followers, we have 2,393 FB followers, people who “LIKE” Tell Us Something. Imagine if all of those followers each gave $10 during Missoula Gives! 4,032 followers x $10? That’s over $40! That’s enough to pay back the loans that Tell Us Something had to take out during the pandemic to stay afloat. That’s enough to keep the organization going, to give us a jump on 2023 and keep live storytelling alive in Missoula. Donate today. Donate now. Don’t wait and think that someone else will donate. We need YOU! Yes, YOU! To donate today.
When I initially envisioned what Tell Us Something has become, I imagined that audience members would listen to the stories and absorb the stories and their meanings over the course of time. That the stories went beyond the night. That the stories required active listening, sure, and that they also required reflection over time. That they might touch the hearts of audience members. Of those who are holding space for the storytellers who are sometimes performing open soul surgery on the stage. Soon I learned that the storytellers need a little bit of guidance in shaping their stories.
Here’s Dick King again.
[Dick King] you know, so what I really liked about tell us something, as I thought through that, and then, you know, you helped me get that kind of get my thoughts organized. And it was a real pleasure to talk to people then, uh, then afterwards continue that discussion with people and they had their stories told. So I thought it was a really positive experience.
[Marc Moss] Neil McMahon, a storyteller who shared a story at Tell Us Something back in 2016 remembers how great you are as an audience:
[Neil McMahon] Neil McMahon: So it, and it was, it was wonderful, you know, I mean, a really good audience and, you know, and you could tell that,
[Marc Moss] Can you extend that graciousness to us during Missoula Gives, too? Donations are extended through May 13, so you still have this week to make your donation. Be part of the Tell Us Something story.
Hey, let me just say I don’t, uh, I don’t want to blow smoke or anything, but I just want to say, uh, you know, this is really a terrific program. Tell us something. And I think a lot of people realize that you put a lot of work into it, and there’s a great appreciation for that.
Marc Moss: I hope that it survives this pandemic.
Neil McMahon: well we sure hope so too, but it’s gotta be tough.
[Marc Moss] As a good audience, are you ready to keep Tell Us Something going as we come back from the deficit that the pandemic caused? Help us heal this financial wound so that we can continue providing opportunities for our community to share the stories of their lives, of *YOUR* lives.
Melody Rice, a storyteller from Butte remembers the power of storytelling to heal.
[Melody Rice] Um, and I, I agree with that. And, um, so there’s that level of telling it that’s super important. And then there’s that other level of healing that can happen when we hear someone else’s story and it resonates in the stuff in a box, um, personal experiences. So, so yes, really want to tell you how much I appreciate the fact that you are keeping, tell us something alive that you are.
[Marc Moss] Even after years have gone by, the storytellers at Tell Us Something remember how impactful the experience was for them.
[Becca Kelly] I, I really enjoyed telling my story to tell us something all those years ago and doing this interview now with you and talking about it again is just really lovely and helps me process it even more.
So, yeah. Thank you. Still relevant material.
[Marc Moss] Becca shared her story back in 2016. She remembered how a death affected her.
[Becca Kelly] And then you could walk across the train tracks at that time. And then she ran outside and ran across the railroad tracks at the end of the night and like slept and just tried to stay on the railroad tracks and wouldn’t leave. It was so dramatic. It’s like, that’s why they put the pedestrian bridge up, you know.
[Marc Moss] Tell Us Something stories are a record of history in Missoula by those who lived the history. We’ve had the privilege to host on the Tell Us Something stage some who have gone before us. One person from our community, Greg Johnson, who was the force behind the legendary Missoula Colony, a program of the Missoula Repertory theater shared a story at the inaugural Montana Film Festival at The Roxy.
[Greg Johnson] I got a call from my agent and he said, this guy wants to meet you. Um, he’s a hot, hot, very hot, uh, director out of USC. He’s got a movie coming out this summer. Everybody thinks he’s the next big deal. And it’s American graffiti and his name is George Lucas. I said, okay. Okay, George Lucas. So I go, I’ll meet anybody, starting my career.
And he says, it’s a, it’s a part of, uh, this, this, this, uh, Luke Skywalker in star wars. And I said, fine. Okay, I’ll go have coffee. So we have coffee.
[Marc Moss] Greg shared a story about how he auditioned for the role of Luke Skywalker, and remembers having lunch with George Lucas.
[Marc Moss] Ric Parnell, the legendary drummer from “This is Spinal Tap”, shared a story in 2013.
[Ric Parnell] Um, okay. What else? Storytelling. Okay. All right. That’s it. Um, oh, Jimi Hendrix, Jimi Hendrix once bought me a scotch and Coke and gave me a Malboro . Yep. My dad was doing the dusty Springfield show and, uh, he comes up to me one morning and he goes, oh, I’m taking you to the show. I’m like one I’m 16. And he goes, no, your idols playing.
I’m like Jimi Hendrix. I’m like, all right, let’s go. Thank you. So I get them. And I’m sitting there in the front of the state. And jimi Hendrix is like where you are and he goes into, um, stone free. I don’t know if you know, Jimi Hendrix music stone free is a really good song.
[Marc Moss] Ric was the only person that I’ve ever pulled off the stage. He died just this month, and the drinks I had with him will be forever fuzzy in my memory.
[Marc Moss] So – you subscribe to the podcast. You bought tickets to the live in-person shows. Did you donate to the live streamed shows that we did in 2020? Because the very first live-streamed show that we did had over 700 attendees watching live. Tell Us Something paid all of the storytellers. Tell Us Something paid the american Sign Language interpreters. The event was donation based. Did you donate? Because I can tell you that less than 100 people donated for that initial show that we live streamed. You “like” Tell Us Something on social media. You subscribe to the podcast. Sometimes you are able to attend the in-person events. Sometimes you share your story. Now is the time to help keep Tell Us Something going. We need your help to make up the losses that the pandemic caused.
You can go to tellussomething.org now to donate.
Thank you for supporting Tell Us Something during the Missoula Gives event!
Your donation is a ‘yes’ for stories.
It’s a ‘yes’ for the magic of someone going on stage and bringing our community together.
It’s a ‘yes’ for acknowledging there is so much that ties us all together and a story can show that.
Your donation ensures that we can support storytellers, host a podcast, continue to produce in-person events, and to keep the lights on.
It takes a community to keep the spirit of Tell Us Something going and we are honored to have you be a part of it.
The donation platform is open through Friday May 13. We need your help to continue to provide a platform for our community to share their stories. We need your help to continue holding space for storytelling here in Missoula. Please, go to tellussomething.org right now and click the DONATE button to let your voice be heard that you support your community. You support live storytelling. You support the storytellers that share their stories and bring us together.
There are only 3 days left. The time is now to go to tellusssomething.org and click the DONATE button. Let your community know that you hold space for them. Let them know that you go beyond “liking” a social media pot, or liking the Tell Us Something page. Turn that like into action and donate to Tell Us Something today. Thank you for supporting Tell Us Something during the Missoula Gives event!
Thanks to Cash for Junkers who provided the Tell Us Something theme song, an original composition of theirs called buzzin. Additional music comes to us from Super Mario Brothers, music released under the Creative Commons license form NIN and Moby.
Next week, we return to the expected Tell Us Something podcast. We’ll catch up with Rick White.
[Rick White] Then I was concerned because curious students in my classroom were kind of endangered species or as we in capital leave education, like at risk.
Thanks for listening. Remember to donate at tellussomething.org. today.