Hello Rabbit Box Family! This is an online special we did last year in collaboration with the OLLI (Osher Life Long Learning Institute) Memoir Writing Group. This special features 7 Athens senior citizens who kindly share their personal stories with you, our virtual audience.
The storytellers are Charles Wilmoth, Jim Marshall, Kathleen Wright, Glenn Ames, DeAnne Wilmoth, Peggy Harrington, and Earnest Thompson.
Press the Play button, and prepare to be rewarded with a septet of unique, timeless tales, The effects of these 7 gems range from stoking the fires of your laughter, dousing your eager minds with suspense, infecting your person with childlike wonder, and possibly bursting the barriers to your tears with their solemnity. The charms of these stories are manifold, so take what time you need to enjoy them.
The burgeoning, brilliant partnership between Rabbit Box and OLLI and the seemingly serendipitous circumstance which led to this online special are integral to a great story all it’s own. You can read about that story and the bios of our storytellers by clicking HERE.
Keep a look out for our October “Lost & Found” show at the VFW, and know that we’re very excited to return to the public forum.
We’ve missed you all, and may this virtual show serve as a morsel to whet your appetite(s) for the next chapter of Rabbit Box. We hope that you’ll keep up with us, as we can’t do it without you, and invite others to take in our experience.
Please enjoy “Written Recollections”! (All Stories Recorded by Board Member Connie Crawley, The Special Hosted by Board Member Sean Polite)
Rabbit Box is excited to announce that we have a donor who will donate $5 (up to $300) to Rabbit Box for every story (or artwork) that gets posted!
In this hard time when we’ll all holding our breath to see what the future holds, we know it’s hard to write a great story incorporating a beginning, middle and end when we don’t know how (or when) all this ends. We’re all anxiously moving through this time of grim news, a long period without handshakes, hugs, and dance lessons — and a bad-hair month on top of that. So we thought we’d encourage check-ins, too. You don’t have to have a fully fleshed-out story. Just tell us how you’re doing or provide a snapshot of life where you are in audio, video or print form. You can send a photo or other artwork, too. Let’s stay connected!
You’ve waited patiently and now the time is here to lay out our ground rules for our Nesting storytelling continuum – with the classic evocative questions of “what, when, where, how, and why”:
WHAT: A project that will chronicle the tales, experiences, and lives of Athens area and surrounding community members during this time of crisis. Stories don’t need to pertain directly to this time – maybe you’d like to tell us about what your favourite thing to do before was, where you made your first “nest”, the “nest” you lost, or something you can’t bring home anymore. Whatever comes to mind, as long as it fits our “nesting” theme. Stories can be in the form of a video, an audio recording, written work, photographs, visual art, or anything else that illustrates your story of “nesting”.
WHEN: This project spans from now until further notice. We’ll be posting stories as we get them on our social media – so make sure you follow us and turn your notifications on for new posts!
WHERE: The digital realm. We have created a drive for you to upload your stories and they’ll be posted on our blog and social media.
HOW: Send us your 3-5 minute stories on Facebook messenger, through email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or upload them to our Google Drive folder that we have created just for this project (as long as you promise not to peak at the other stories in there) which we have linked at the end of this post. Stories can be any medium of your choosing, as long as they are, in fact, a story. No rants, essays, or lobbying at this time please (thems the breaks, folks). When you submit your work, you’ll be sent a quick consent form saying that you do agree to have this posted on social media and you won’t sue us etc. etc. etc. If you can please let us know when you send them if they are child/teen appropriate or not, we’ll make sure and tag them accordingly. We’d like to have some things the wee folks can interact with considering so many of us now have them at home full time – and kids do say the darndest things.
WHO: The person reading this! Or someone you know! Anyone can submit any story going along with the theme. Please let us know if you’d like to share anonymously. Otherwise, we will make sure to give you full storytelling credit.
WHY: Rabbit Box Storytelling provides a forum for the Athens Area to share and hear stories in order to strengthen and celebrate our diverse community. This doesn’t end when we cannot meet in person. And rather than stop everything we had been doing, we decided to make a new thing- and we are excited to work with you to craft it!
So that is it! Please, send us your stories and let us share in this moment of community with each other. And just so you know our board also has skin in the game – we will be posting our own stories throughout the project. So be on the lookout Sunday night when our first example comes out!
When our board met remotely this week to discuss the next few months, we realized that the upcoming theme — Nesting — applies to all of us right now and others in our beloved community. We have faced the hard decision to cancel our upcoming April show. But we will not despair in this time of crisis – in fact, we have come up with a plan that we think will help bring us together in this time of separation.
We’ve decided to experiment with Rabbit Box in a new form until the risk of getting together subsides.
We want to capture this historic period of life in Athens and surrounding areas and stay connected while we all hunker down and stay safe. Perhaps you have a story about something new you’re trying or how you’re adjusting to work or schooling online or how you’re helping others during this time.
Our mission statement holds in the digital realm: Rabbit Box Storytelling provides a forum for the Athens area to hear and share stories in order to celebrate and strengthen our diverse community.
Soon we’ll be asking for 3-5 minute story submissions in any way you’d like to share with us – be it your audio recording, video or written stories. You can share photos and artwork, too, so that we can all chronicle our lives while we’re nesting to keep others and our families safe.
We’ll be getting back to you on Saturday the 29th at noon about how and where to submit. We just wanted to let you know we’re all in this together and that Rabbit Box will — like all of Athens and our nation — be stronger than ever before too long! So be on the lookout for our next update!
Rabbit Box kicked off the new year and new decade with a fitting theme: Hindsight is 2020. Emcee Chris Shupe of WUGA, with his resonant radio voice and outgoing personality, wore an outfit fit for a king, an homage to his former 30-year career as an Elvis Presley tribute artist.
The first storyteller of the night, Michelle, described a stint in Portland, a place that had appeared to be the promised land when she and her husband shopped around for a new place to live. But those long months of rain and a baby wracked with croup were tough. She got through the darkest part, but later, news of an associate’s suicide served as catalyt for her to make a phone call she had postponed.
Jeff shared a perfectly polished reflection on his 20th high school reunion. A transformative mountain hike gave him a long perspective on the turns his life had taken. He said that at some point you have to get busy living or busy dying. When he reached the mountain peak, he saw the many obstacles he had been able to surmount and decided to get busy doing something.
Christy Lin opened with the song lyrics “Que sera, sera . . .whatever will be, will be” and encouraged the audience to sing along. She credits behavioral and stress therapy for helping her heal from a traumatic childhood. She chooses to be a survivor shining light on the darkness instead of remaining a victim to the darkness.
Hannah Angel admitted in a story about one of her dating “hiccups” that a guy who had seemed like the long-awaited perfect match for her did exhibit some red flags early on. He sure was hyper-focused on her weight and waistline.
Crackerjack Katie McDourmout is a newlywed. Her husband chose Vietnam as their honeymoon spot. While some aspects of the trip were taxing, the sweet part is that even in hindsight, she would still choose to go there.
Entomologist Paul G tucked a little science into his story as he described a couple of experiments gone awry. In hindsight he realized he could have more effectively managed the studies’ cast of characters that included 10,000 lady beetles and 100,000 aphids.
After his first encounter with overt racism at eight years old as one of the few African-American students in a mostly Caucasian school, Stevie King began a personal journey of cultural identity, navigating the racial dichotomy of black and white. Now as an adult he prides himself in being able to fit in regardless of where he is or who he is with and encouraged the audience to have some diversity in their friendship groups.
Robin ended the night saying that hindsight can be both a blessing and a curse. When her child brought up an embarrassing ordeal from her past in front of everyone at a church fellowship meal, she turned it into a teachable moment. In hindsight, her son gave her the gift of redeeming her story in the same way she feels church redeems her soul.
Rabbit Box’s October show “Pride and Prejudice,” a collaboration with Athens Pride, gave voice to the Classic City’s LGBTQA+ community. Return emcee Tara Stuart fostered an environment of respect and support by making a point to ask each individual’s preferred pronouns and letting it be known that coming out is not simply a one-time event but a daily process
Kicking the evening off with good humor, the first storyteller of the evening, the writer and journalist David Ferguson, said that his preferred pronouns are he, him, or cake. The audience responded by chanting “cake!” (Who doesn’t love a good piece of cake?) As a child in Columbus, Georgia, he preferred the company of his opera singer mother’s friends and her jewelry box more so than that of boys his age. After coming out as a teenager, David made the decision to walk “gay first” into a room, asserting that when he came out of the closet, he “took the door off.” After visiting Athens for a college tour, he knew it was the place for him. He has since gotten married to a wonderful man, become the lead singer of the band Kompromat, and over the years is grateful to have found a diverse, safe community here.
The LGBTQ acronym has now expanded to a more inclusive acronym, LGBTQIA+. Elise Stangle’s coming of age story gave insight into an A+ perspective. After years of confusion and feeling abnormal, Elise has finally found her place identifying as asexual.
Local activist Cameron Harrelson has a story full of beginnings. He grew up in a rural, religious community where everyone was “the same.” Being a gifted musician, singer, and public speaker, Cameron was thrust into the spotlight at a young age, particularly within his church. By high school he was a full-blown worship leader, often speaking against what deep down he felt described himself. It wasn’t until he moved to Athens for college that he decided to stop living a lie. Even though his grandmother said that she would never attend his wedding, he wouldn’t be surprised if she ends up in the front row when the day comes.
Cracker Jack storyteller Ida Barrett reminded the audience that no one owes you a coming out story, and you don’t owe others one, either. Each person’s story is his or her own to share.
For this Rabbit Box show, a second Cracker Jack storyteller, Moriah Payne, was welcomed to the stage. Growing up in a strict, religious household where the word “gay” was not used and later attending a faith-based college, she tried to live up to certain expectations. But from a young age she knew that she liked girls. She tried dating guys over the years, but it never worked out. She just came out last month at Athens Pride and is now living happily in her truth.
Muralist, dance instructor, and make-up artist Jean/Jen Arias, who has lived in Spain, New Jersey, and Athens is now dealing with a second coming out. After starting adulthood living as a gay man, Jen is now ready to start a new journey as a trans woman.
For the first 40 years of Morgan Henry’s life, she went by the male name she was assigned at birth. Growing up as a boy, she was “gently corrected” by adults to not act too feminine even though that’s what felt natural. She spent years trying to figure out where she fit in. 2016 proved to be a pivotal year when she found out that gender identity, biological sex and sexual attraction are all separate parts of each person’s overall identity. She now spends her days in the artistic and game-design realms living happily as a gender queer trans lesbian.
Lucy Ralston described hate as jumping through hoops for little people who make you feel small. She knows all about having to pretend to be someone you’re not when it’s too dangerous to be your true self. She has dubbed this year, her 30th, as an opportunity to live a more genuine and open life.