Monday, August 29, 2016

Storytelling - Summer 2016!

With some fellow pirates at Boston Seafood Festival.
Wow. This summer has been a wonderful and crazy, busy time. I have been lucky enough to have work all summer long as a storyteller in many different venues and in several capacities.

The summer started with me telling stories as a pirate for  In full costume ( so hot!) I visited beaches and sailed to the Harbor Islands all the while telling stories that reflected the rich history of the harbor and the life of an early 18th century woman pirate, Mary Read.  The amazing activities available to the people of the Commonwealth on their beaches in and around our harbor still blows me away. I am honored to be even a small a part of it. As I travel from beach to beach, I witness people engaged with their common resource through kayaking, fishing, swimming, surfing and all manner of environmentally sound programming with natural life.

Wollaston Beach
All this activity peopled the shores as I told and exchanged stories as part of the Better Beaches summer crew of SaveTheHarbor/Save the, Boston's premier, non-profit public interest harbor advocacy organization. Save the Harbor is directed by Bruce Berman, who leads and is supported by thousands of citizens, as well as scientists, civic, corporate, cultural and community leaders in a mission to restore and protect Boston Harbor, Massachusetts Bay, and the marine environment and share them with the public for everyone to enjoy. This summer I visited and performed at beaches from Lynn to Hull and saw a lot of the great beaches that are closest to Boston in South Boston and Dorchester.  I buried treasure, shared booty, told riddles, taught some handy knots and other piratical "skills."

At the TADPOLE Playground with
As I have for the past 17 summers I have been a storyteller with's Storymobile. Here is an excerpt from a blog about the Storymobile experience contributed by OWD summer intern Nick Zaffiro:
" On the Tadpole Playground in Boston Common, a mass of rambunctious, chatty, and excited kids have gathered. There are over 600 kids in attendance – a small event for the Tadpole where the Storymobile can attract upwards of 1,000 attendees. Why are they here? Why are they so excited?
Stories! And books, too.
Anyone might be suspicious that books or stories could wrestle the attention of a sea of pre-schoolers crowded around an outdoor playground. But storyteller Tony Toledo removes those doubts. In long, flowing hair and floral Hawaiian shirt, he stands poised before a microphone at the bottom of the park’s grassy slope – a natural amphitheater whose trees provide cool shelter from the hot July morning.
The kids are arranged by group, each designated with the vibrant color of a camp or program. One little girl looks absentmindedly at the pond, until Tony Toledo takes the mike. A call and response brings everyone (kids, parents, camp counselors, passersby) to life and their focus to him, including the distracted girl.
“Story time!” he shouts.
“Story time!” the crowd responds, the little voices of the children coming together.
Then Tony begins his story, performing the “Coyote Song” from memory. Tony yelps whenever the coyote has his tail stepped on – the coyote’s true song – and it elicits an infectious laughter from the crowd....
Storymobile events aren’t simply about gathering and entertaining children; instead, the program aims to inspire kids to be creative and imagine. That mindset is the bridge to literacy, which the program promotes by giving books to every child who attends.
“[The Storymobile] provides high quality literacy programming to low-income children throughout Boston in the summer, when children are most at risk,” says Katie Sullivan, who oversees ReadBoston’s Storymobile program..."
This wonderful work takes me all over the great city of Boston. The program features free storytelling every weekday for 6 weeks in day care centers, summer camps, libraries and parks. READ BOSTON Storymobile: Professional storytellers perform and each child gets a new, high quality, picture book. I was one of several storytellers performing in 50 sites all over City of Boston every weekday and some evenings too!

In the field, at the dig of a pit house in Cortez, Colorado. Sleeping Ute Mountains are in the background

In mid-July, I was in Colorado for an amazing 1 week storytelling adventure at with 10 young women from LA on an archeological citizen scientist team.  It was my first time ever in the western US and my first time on an archeological dig. Among many amazing experiences, we heard stories from a Zuni storyteller and I taught personal storytelling to the teens on our team. I had a wonderful co-facilitator and am hugely thankful to Laura St.Andrews for her kind support.  Nichole Cirillo of Earthwatch created the program and she deserves a shout out as well. The teens were delightful, just the best group ever! The experience deserves a whole blog to itself. Also in July, I was honored to be part of a wedding ceremony on beautiful Chebeague Island where I was the officiant/storyteller.

All in all, a very rewarding, super busy, summer.