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Story Circle

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 Wednesday Evening Session

“How does world folklore offer us insights and ideas for creating a new story?”

“How does listening to stories help us tell our own stories?”

Convener: Margo McLoughlin

Participants: Barbara Gilday, Lorraine Cook, Sheila Kincaid, Juliana Hepp.

Margo began by speaking about the Fetzer Institute's Generosity of Spirit Project, an ongoing exploration into

the ways and means by which world cultures teach generosity of spirit, that expansive quality which includes

many other qualities such as patience, wisdom, leadership, forgiveness, cooperation, and the sharing of resources.

Folktales from the Generosity of Spirit project can be reviewed at the Council of Michigan Foundations Learning to Give site.

Margo told “A Drum” a short folktale from India about the circle of giving. A poor woman asks her son what she

can bring him from the market. He responds with excitement, saying, "A drum, Mother. Bring me a drum!" The

woman knows she will never have enough money to buy a drum for her son, but on the way home she finds a

stick of wood and brings him that. The boy receives the gift and takes it with him when he goes out to play.

Through his compassionate interest in others and his generosity, he ultimately receives the drum he wanted.

After hearing the story participants shared the images that stayed with them:

-    the mother’s desire to give something to her son, even though she doesn’t have much

-    the invitation she offers him to dream by asking, “What can I  bring you from the market?”

-    the boy’s willingness to receive

-    the boy’s curiosity and interest in the people he met

-    how generosity creates a circle of connection

-    how in the last encounter there was a sense of urgency. Urgency can help us let go more easily.

Margo asked those present if there were any stories in their own lives that came to mind in response to this story.

Lorraine told a story about finding a scrapbook in her parents' home, and in the scrapbook was a paper with a photograph

 of a young Japanese man, with some accompanying text in Japanese. Lorraine showed the paper to her father and he

told her where he had collected it during the Second World War. Lorraine set out to see if she could find the family of that

young man, and through a series of remarkable connections, succeeded.


Barbara's story was about her love of gardening, and how her garden and her own presence in it became a neighborhood destination.

One day two young boys on their way to school were knocking the heads off some of Barbara's flowers. Barbara knew who one of the boys was and, after speaking with his father, had him and his buddy come and work in her garden for an hour as a way of making amends. But after their hard labour she gave them milk and cookies and they enjoyed each other's company.


Sheila told about her special connection with her father, who died when she was nineteen. 


Juliana described her coming to Pine Ridge, South Dakota and her involvement with building a home for the kindergarten teacher at the Waldorf school there. This led to Barbara asking Juliana how much money was needed to finish the project, to which Juliana responded, "$1,000."


The Story Circle began with a folktale about the circle of giving and concluded with a commitment to raise money to complete a project that will benefit many. By Friday morning conference participants had donated $1375 for Juliana and Kathleen's project. In doing so, we became part of this story of generosity.






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