Local storyteller keeps stories alive using technology

Storyteller Diane Edgecomb is known for her lively storytelling experiences in Jamaica Plain, notably her always sold out summer and winter solstice events. 

Edgecomb said she believes in the power of the spoken word, especially when it is spoken in person, but with Governor Baker’s stay at home advisory in effect to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, larger events have come to a halt.

That’s why Edgecomb has decided to develop a YouTube channel with what she calls “Occasional Stories”—stories for different occasions and seasons. Though Edgecomb usually tells stories to adults, with this new channel, she said she hopes to place a special focus on families who are staying inside together. 

Last week, Edgecomb posted a St. Patrick’s Day video full of Irish Fairy Legends accompanied by Margot Chamberlain on the Celtic harp, which she created as a treat for children and their families who could not otherwise go out to celebrate the holiday due to the virus. 

“Story radio used to be such a time for people that they remembered it with fondness,” Edgecomb said, and “there is an advantage of listening to stories without having a picture component.” The St. Patrick’s Day video does not have a visual component—it was created just for listening. 

“I wondered what it was going to take to get me to digitize myself,” she said. “I’m a person who lives in the present.” She admits that using technology is new to her and she was reluctant  to use it at first, but she wants to bring joy and something different to people as they stay inside to prevent the spread of the virus. 

“This time can be a blessing as well as a curse,” she said. “We have to look for those silver linings.”  

Edgecomb said her next big focus is on Earth Day, where she will post a different story each weekday of Earth Week, beginning on April 20. The stories will have to do with things like planting, bird nesting, and other nature topics and will each feature an activity that can be done no matter where people are and will give them a chance to do something away from technology but still maintain distance from others. She describes the stories as “a little surprise every day to celebrate Earth Day’s 50th anniversary.” 

The channel will also feature content for her typical audience of adults, but “for families I really feel a special obligation.” She said she will be posting stories at least every week, and also has a few other plans up her sleeve.

She is considering offering some online courses in reading with expression for parents who are home with young children and librarians using the videoconferencing program Zoom. The class would be interactive and people would be able to ask Edgecomb questions as she shares tips for making storytelling more engaging. 

Additionally, Edgecomb said she wants to create an online storytelling circle lesson as well for people to learn story sharing games and ideas for creating spontaneous stories. “This is the perfect time to dig up family stories,” she said. “The point is they will be ale to do it in the moment with whoever they’re present with.”

She also said that she wants the virtual part of storytelling to go so far—she really hopes people will use the skills learned in her lessons inside their homes to bring the in-person aspect of storytelling alive. 

“I know the power of the voice in the room,” she said. “It’s a real comforting, beautiful presence. I want others to be able to really use that. It’s different when it’s recorded.”

Another idea Edgecomb had is creating Zoom birthday parties for children whose birthdays fall in these next few weeks when everyone is urged to stay inside and away from others. Kids can invite their friends to the videoconference and have story telling time. Edgecomb said she realizes it can be a sad and distressing time for kids who can’t celebrate their birthdays with a traditional party, so she wants to try and make it a little brighter for them. 

Edgecomb will also be including updates on some of the YouTube posts and directing people to her upcoming courses on her website, livingmyth.com, where people can also sign up for her e-newsletter. Her YouTube channel can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/c/dianeedgecomb.

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