The STORYTELL Listserv

By Rose Owens


            Like silver threads, the words typed to the STORYTELL Listserv go out and draw members into a web of giving and sharing and caring.  STORYTELL is for all individuals who are interested in storytelling:  professional storytellers, amateur storytellers, story listeners and those individuals who are interested in the history of storytelling and its place in this century.  Discussions on STORYTELL reflect the diverse viewpoints of individuals all over the world.  The “threads” (topics discussed) go over and under and around and about and draw individuals together into a unique international storytelling community.

STORYTELL is a free listserv (electronic bulletin board) hosted by Texas Woman’s University since 1995.   A listerv is a fantastic communication tool that allows individuals to simultaneously post messages to a large number of people at the same time.  When a STORYTELL member posts a question or shares information, that email is distributed to everyone on the STORYTELL list.  There are more than 500 STORYTELLers and we are a prolific group.  Subscribers can expect to receive 50-80 emails a day.    Busy STORYTELLers learn to delete the “threads” they are not interested in.  Some STORYTELLers choose to receive a digest version of STORYTELL which combines the emails into one daily posting.   Others put a filter on their inbox that separates STORYTELL email from personal email and some STORYTELLers choose to have a separate email account for STORYTELL.   To subscribe, follow the directions at

            Because I belong to STORYTELL, I am never alone.  I can sit at my computer and type in a question or share something of importance to me and I know that no matter what time of the day or even in the dark of the night, some of my friends will be online to hear me.  Responses to my “thread” may come to me from all over the world.   I also know that among the STORYTELL members, there will be “lurkers” who have an interest in storytelling but choose to simply read STORYTELL. 

            STORYTELL is a very active site.  We are a community of friends who share an interest in stories.  STORYTELLers from all over the world can “talk” to each other as if they were in the same local guild.  Dialog between STORYTELLers is continuous and non-stop. 

            Because I wondered what other STORYTELLers receive from this listserv, I posted the query:  “What do you get from STORYTELL?”  The responses were as diverse as we are. 

            “I get connected to a world of interesting people who are eager to share a wealth of information that helps me grow wiser as a storyteller . . . and through the process we become friends (Diana Crow).” 

            STORYTELL is a generous community that responds quickly to any request for stories, resources, ideas and information (Cathryn Wellner).”

            STORYTELL provides an “audience for bragging, also for whining and lamenting (Kimberley King).”  STORYTELLers listen, praise, sympathize and offer suggestions for future use. 

             “Not only do I get a rich source of information both new and what I am not looking for but copy and file for later, but also it has saved me hours of research when I needed something (Marcia Gutierrez).”

“I get from STORYTELL a fantastic education. I have learned in-depth information about other cultures: past and present. I have learned about the differences in geography and culture, and of course the similarities. I have learned history, both serious and hilarious! I have learned of customs and religions. I have a link to explore the whole world (Margaret Schwallie.)”

Stories, story sources, information about sound systems, program planning, copyright issues, marketing, contracts, grants, and scholarship information are some of the many topics that are generously shared on-line. 

At times our discussions take us beyond the world of story into politics, world events, personal needs and tragedies.   For example, Mel Davenport shared some of the turmoil she went through when her mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.  Mel says that during the last two years of her mother’s life the STORYTELLing community was there for her.  “Encouragement, love, hope, and peace flowed from the STORYTELL family onto my screen during those two years and provided me with reality in what frequently seemed to be a surreal time in my life.  The connection my STORYTELL family provided was truly survival for me.”              

            Like the lure of a well-told story, STORYTELL spins a shining web that bonds individuals.  We have “friends that we will never ‘see’ and yet will always love (Margaret Schwailie).”  We are like a family.  We support and encourage each other but we don’t hesitate to voice our opinions.  Sometimes we argue over important issues—or trivial issues--but the STORYTELLing bond holds us together.  STORYTELL helps us to grow as storytellers and as individuals.  Our world is a bigger and brighter and better place because we share on STORYTELL. 


Copyright 2005

Rose Owens


Published in Storyline (Storytelling Association of Alta California Newsletter)

Summer 2005


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