Genevieve K. Waller, Crooked Door Storytelling's founder

We are all storytellers, all the time. Stories bring us together and make us brave. They help us speak up, speak out and take chances. They help us learn new ideas, understand old ways, spark our imaginations and enable us to share adventures with people we’ve never met. They transport us through space and time, and make a big, extraordinary world a little smaller and familiar for us. They expand our amazement of all that surrounds our lives by helping us realize we’re all connected as the planet spins around in its little corner of the universe. I also believe that by sharing stories – in telling them and hearing them – we each discover our own, unique voice among the depth and breadth of humankind's narratives. We learn that our stories have power and value, no matter who we are or what our circumstances. We are reminded that our individual experiences are worthy of expression as we all strive to move forward with compassion and understanding.

Several years ago, I stepped through the looking glass from a decades-long career as a print and radio journalist, where I first began gathering and sharing stories. I blended my reporting, editing and writing skills with lifelong pursuits in teaching, speaking, travelling, research and visual art-making to found Crooked Door Storytelling and begin work as a Chicago-based Teaching Artist and Story Strategist.

I started storytelling in 2010 at several schools and community-based programs in Chicago, gaining overwhelming support and encouragement from educators, students and fellow Teaching Artists every step of the way. To this day, educators welcome me into their schools and learn how to blend stories into requirement-filled curricula. Parents value the stories and exercises I provide to help develop curious minds and communication skills. Students engage in listening to and creating stories of their own.

Today, Crooked Door Storytelling's goal is to help students and professionals learn and share in the value of recognizing, crafting and sharing stories – an ages-old and universal human activity that not only entertains and opens the imagination but also provokes contemplation about how we live together in and with the world, imparts valuable lessons and strengthens written and spoken communication skills. 

In addition to working with students, educators and community-based programs, I am bringing storytelling into higher education as well as to the workplace, among professionals. Even in the technologically-driven 21st century, understanding our universal, uniquely human experiences has never gone out of style for the value it brings to work. My approach strives to improve how projects and messages – both internal and external – are communicated.

As a writer and teller, I thoroughly research and prepare stories across genres for oral delivery and continue to develop original stories for presentations. As a teaching artist, visual artist and story strategist, I have developed customized workshops and experience-appropriate exercises that enhance my students' and clients' own storytelling abilities; in turn, this has benefitted their literacy and communication skills in myriad ways.

My ongoing interactions with audiences have strengthened my belief that the art and practice of storytelling enhances literacy and communication in all its forms. At the same time, my relationships with an ever-expanding network of talented fellow Teaching Artists have inspired dynamic collaborative projects that dismantle artistic "silos" and incorporate multiple art forms. These partnerships result in unique artistic and learning experiences for all involved.

With each interaction -- at school, in communities, at universities and colleges, in the workplace and with fellow artists -- I continue to feel the power of sharing a good story and the storytelling elements with anyone who is open to being transfixed, transported and transformed in their lives and in their work.

I love my job. 

 

For more information or to arrange a storytelling program affordably tailored to your needs, please contact: Genevieve K. Waller, 773.330.8086 or gkswaller@crookeddoorstorytelling.com