Traverse City Record-Eagle

November 29, 2010

Men, boys gather to share their stories

Tales can be both fictional and personal


SUTTONS BAY — One story well told will lead to another.

That is the intention of the "Foolish (and Wise) Things We Have Seen or Done" project that brings together teenage boys and men of Leelanau County to tell stories, from fictional to personal.

A Community Story Circle, sponsored by the Leelanau County Family Coordinating Council's Guys' Group, will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 5, at Glen Lake High School library. This is the second in a series of six workshops and will work around the theme "Gifts Given and Received."

"The emphasis is on participation, listening and telling stories that can come from anywhere — folklore, personal, as long as they go along with the theme of the day," said Steven Holl, leader of the project funded by a Brimstone Grant from the National Storytelling Network.

Holl, who started off the first workshop with a personal story about hunting with his father as a 14-year-old boy and coming face to face with his mortality, says participants need not worry about coming prepared with a story to share.

"Stories can range from the ridiculous to the sublime and everything in between," said Holl, who will provide prompts, such as "tell about a time when you were really scared," for smaller groups to share what comes to mind.

Everyone has the opportunity to tell a story, listen to a story, receive positive feedback and share their story with the larger group if they so choose.

Phil Hamburg, who participated in the first Story Circle based on ghosts and scary things, says he was a bit nervous about the idea of sharing a story in front of the group.

"There was a measure of uncertainty, but I wanted to be there to give support to the program," said Hamburg, who works for the SEEDS after-school program in Suttons Bay.

"It was very rewarding because both the boys and men seemed to buy into it very quickly. It was really just pretty cool," Hamburg said, noting that the group is an exciting new angle to the mentorship enterprise.

Holl says he also was pleased with the level of participation during the first workshop.

"Even though some of the boys thought they weren't going to like it, they found out it was not as painful as they imagined, even fun," he said.

While the Story Circles are not open to the public, Holl hopes to hold a performance for an audience following the final workshop in the spring. He says he still has room in the group for additional participants.

"All the Circles are for all teenage boys, not just the members of the Guys' Group Storytelling Troupe and selected men from the community. This is a great way to get old guys and young guys together and have fun telling stories, and with stories comes wisdom and foolishness," Holl said.

For more information, e-mail Steven Holl at