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Come Join Us!

On an Inner and Outer Adventure

(To see the photos and use the links in this article, go to http://storydynamics.com/services/workshops/sapelo.html)

Dear Friend,

This is your chance to join us on a unique adventure. We'll be explorers together - of both the inner and outer worlds. We'll travel to an unspoiled island, famous for its beauty, history, and spirituality. We'll become a supportive community. We will experience the transforming power of three magnificent performances. We will use the setting, the inspiring stories, and each other to discover more of our own creativity, intelligence, and wisdom.

Can You Imagine This?

We gather by 4 pm at the dockside in Meridian. Looking over the marshy channel that borders this part of mainland Georgia, we glimpse Sapelo Island. The water is colored by the rays of the sun, which is beginning to set behind us. Jay, Pam, and Doug, our leaders on this adventure, bring us together with a song and some stories. The crew has gathered. The exploration has begun. Once the ferry arrives, we board with our luggage for our four-day, three-night adventure.

Who are we on this ferry? We are travellers off to explore the inner and outer landscape. Each of us has meaningful experiences - stories - inside us. Some of those stories have been told. Some remain unheard, unshaped, even unknown inside us. We don't know each other yet, but we are all here for the same purpose: to let a beautiful island be the setting where the power of important stories, both heard and told, can change and strengthen us.

To the Island Sanctuary

As the ferry parts the waves, we begin our half-hour ferry ride through beautiful tidal creeks. We'll see various shore birds flying above and beside us, and perhaps even some dolphins playing in the wake. As gulls dive for fish in the churning wake behind the ferry, we begin to focus on our unique destination: Sapelo Island. Gloria Wade-Gayles called it "a place known for its beauty, mystery, and spirituality."

A protected estuarine preserve, over 90% of Sapelo Island is a nature refuge for the seabirds and other wildlife that depend on its isolated 16,000 acres. That's why so few mainlanders are on the ferry; tourism is severely restricted by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. People can stay in the lush surroundings of the state-owned mansion only if they come with an approved educational group like ours.

But 434 of Sapelo Island's acres form a different sort of refuge. Here live the 70 residents of Hog Hammock, a unique, historic African-American community. Able to buy land on the island after the Civil War, the newly freed slaves created a stable community here, preserving traditions that have died out nearly everywhere else. For their steadfast dedication to their way of life, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution called these people "the heroes of the century."

Heading Back In Time

Getting off the ferry, we are taken in vans along the one-lane roads of Sapelo Island. Along the way, we may catch glimpses of the unique animal population of this island - such as the rare Guatemalan Chacalaca bird, which lives nowhere else in the U.S. Later, we may see the alligators lounging in their pond or along the old beach road, or hear the distant squeal of the island's wild hogs. In the forested parts of the island, the roads are lined with centuries old trees, characterized by their thick twisting branches and thickly woven vines and Spanish moss. Palmettos abound, the young bushy ones lush with leaves.

Nearing the southern tip of the island, our van turns through the gates of our destination: the Reynolds Mansion. Rebuilt during World War I by Howard E. Coffin of Detroit, this luxurious yet peculiar estate was taken over and enlarged by tobacco baron R. J. Reynolds, who donated it to the state of Georgia. Some of our bedrooms are directly off the famed "Circus Room."  Others will sleep in the various wings of the mansion or off the glass solarium; they'll have birds-eye views of the Florentine statuary or the white-tail deer that usually approach the mansion daily.

Now the inner adventure is about to begin. But perhaps you are not familiar with storytelling as a healing art?

The Search for the Perfect Setting

Jay, Pam, and Doug - the facilitators of this journey - are experienced artists and workshop leaders. (You'll hear more about us later.) Between us, we have over fifty years of professional experience. We have helped thousands of people access more of their innate creativity and personal power through storytelling.

We have performed on four continents, in settings from Lincoln Center to women's spiritual retreats to New Zealand Maori sacred gathering places. But we never found the perfect place to tell our most powerful stories.

The Storytelling Dilemma

With the advent of mass media, storytelling lost its honored place in mainstream society. But people have begun to rediscover this most gentle of the ancient healing arts. Festivals have sprung up. "Story sharing groups" have sprouted in hundreds of local communities. Even business magazines have devoted special issues to storytelling as a tool for communicating vision.

But transformational storytelling does not thrive in huge settings. Yes, the crowds at the National Storytelling Festival fill huge tents to listen to tellers such as Jay and Doug - not to mention Spaulding Gray, Donald Davis, and Pete Seeger.

But storytelling is so personal an art form that something deeper seems to happen in intimate venues.

On the other hand, smallness alone does not create the most memorable experiences. A group of strangers can come together for a few hours of story listening. They might love the show. They applaud. They leave.

Something remains incomplete.

A Lucky Accident

In the spring of 1999, Jay and Doug were co-leading a workshop in Phoenix, held in a local community college building. Naturally, we told brief stories to unite and inspire the participants. But in this instructional setting, we didn't contemplate telling our big stories, the stories we had put years into shaping. The stories that have the power to change lives.

But in this particular workshop, Jay mentioned his block-buster story, "Pouring the Sun." He was telling the participants about the story's three-year development - to show that even master storytellers can hit snags. And overcome them.

People said, "Tell the story!" Jay said, "No, it would take an hour of workshop time." People insisted. At last, we agreed. Jay told it on Sund1ay morning. It turned out to be one of his best performing experiences! The workshop participants bubbled over with their reactions, their life experiences the story had evoked, and their new realizations about themselves that the story had elicited.

Naturally, we asked, "Why? What about this informal, unplanned performance was so satisfying to everyone present?"

And then we realized: the listeners were already a community. They had set aside a few days with the intention of being open to the transforming power of story. And they had a chance to process their reactions, to celebrate the springs of internal wisdom that the story had helped them locate.

Had we at last found the perfect environment for transformative storytelling?

Almost.

The group size was right. Having enough time together to become a community was right. Preparing for and reacting to the stories - that was right, too.

But we needed a place that would heighten the experience, not just harbor it. Where could we go that would let a group make a true pilgrimage, without needing to cross the ocean or camp out in tents?

The Missing Pieces Arrive

In August, 1999, Jay and Doug heard Pam McGrath tell a 90-minute story about Victoria Woodhull, the first woman to run for the U.S. Presidency. We were both stunned by its power. We thought, "This story needs to join our big stories."

Luckily, Pam agreed to co-lead an event with us. A native of the South, she even agreed to help us find a stunning location for it.  A few months later, Pam called with news. "A friend of mine found us the perfect place! It's a wildlife refuge. It's only a 30-minute ferry ride off the coast of Georgia. And there's a mansion on it we might be able to use - if we schedule a year in advance. Even the food is good!"

So we planned our "dream" storytelling event. Our entire careers as storytellers, coaches, and workshop leaders have led up to this: A chance to give significant stories the exact setting they need to work their transforming power. A chance to unleash this ancient healing power.

We have room for twenty-six people to experience this with us.

Five Questions to Answer About Yourself Before Applying

You may have gone to events before that promised to help you discover more about who you are. Some of them (we sincerely hope) have lived up to their promises. Sadly, some have probably not. In even the best-run events, there needs to be a match between you and the event. With the small size of this event, we want to be especially sure to attract only those who want what we have to offer. Can you answer yes to the following five questions?

1. Do you want a participatory event? Storytelling is inherently participatory. When you listen to stories, you create images in your mind. Then you attach your personal meanings to those images. In this way, you are the active shaper of your own meaning. At this event, you will have a chance to tell your own experiences to other group members. To make this non-threatening, you will do this in pairs with other workshop participants.

2. Are you willing to take charge of your own experience? Some events demand that you do things a certain way. But we expect you to find your own ways. When we give you a chance to tell an experience to a partner, we will provide you with a "prompt" - something to get your imagination rolling. But if you choose not to respond to the prompt, we hope you will use your time to talk about what you want to talk about.

Sometimes, you'll have the opportunity to share your experiences with the larger group - but only if you so desire. We'll never cajole you to do something you don't want to do. We see our job as setting up the opportunity, then trusting your innate wisdom about how much to do and when to do it. In our years of helping people tell stories, we have never had a failure!

Although some feel hesitant about the idea of telling, we've been able to help every participant in every workshop tell stories clearly and effectively. We believe that our respect for your boundaries is one cause of this success.

3. Are you willing to be a listener as well as the one listened to? The power of storytelling comes, in part, from its mutuality - the fact that everyone talks and everyone listens. As much of the transformational effect is caused by exposure to the stories of others as by sharing your own experience.

We have learned that, when everyone expects to receive the stories of others, the group quickly becomes a trusting community.

Don't be intimidated by this. You'll have some chances to share with the entire group, if you so desire. You'll definitely have a chance to shine, to have your presence celebrated, to have your unique gifts noticed. As facilitators, we will make sure of ethat.

On a mountain-climbing adventure, our physical well-being would depend on our cooperation as a group. On this inner adventure, our psychic well-being depends on each person rooting for everyone else. And there is an enormous payoff: we each gain an experience of support that makes us braver once the adventure is over.

4. Are you willing to share a bedroom? The rooms at the Reynolds mansion all have two or three beds. Unless you bring a friend or pay for two slots in the workshop (just two tuitions - you'd only have to pay a single room-and-board fee), you'll be sharing a room with another participant we select for you. We're good at matching people up. In fact, we know of several pairs of good friends who first met as roommates in one of our workshops.

5. Are you comfortable with there being no one right way? Storytelling is an ancient tool for creating group harmony, because it gives a common thread of experience while fostering diversity. How? The entire group may hear the same story. But the images you create as you listen are uniquely yours. The associations you have with each story are unique to you. The way you tell about your own experiences are also unique.

Although we will happily share our accumulated knowledge about creativity and storytelling, we will encourage you to look inside for ultimate answers, not to us.

Let the Journey Continue

Now you know how this event came to be. If you're still reading, you probably believe you are a match for this kind of participatory, egalitarian, supportive experience.

But exactly what will happen once we assemble in the mansion?

After a dinner prepared especially for us by the mansion staff, we meet in the central "Great Room." Jay, Pam, and Doug welcome us and begin the journey into story. Before we know it, we are becoming a community.

Pouring the Sun

As the adventure continues, we explore the themes of beginnings, risks taken, and adversity faced. Then comes our first major listening experience.  Jay gathers us around him for his one-hour commissioned work, "Pouring the Sun." We meet Ludvika, the 18-year-old leaving her native Poland, alone, to cross the ocean to the United States. As her life becomes entwined with the life of steel-town Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, we experience her hopes raised and dashed, her tempering in the fire of despair, and her eventual discovery of her own inner steel.

Later, we notice where Ludvika's story of triumph touches our own. We'll have a chance to explore our experiences of journeys, perils, and new beginnings. By this time, our inner change may already have begun.

Daring to Hope

During one of the days, some of us go on the optional tour of the island, while others stroll the miles of deserted white beaches and rolling dunes that are always accessible to us. Some may even choose to rent bicycles, which are allowed everywhere, even on the beach (except on the dunes and in the surf). Those on the tour will experience the parts of the island that can only be visited in the company of an appointed ranger.

Night walks, after our group sessions end each day, are likely to be unforgettable. Wayde-Gayles observes, "There is no pollution on Sapelo; nothing, therefore, dims the brightness of the heavens."

Back in the mansion, our exploration carries us further into the themes of hope - and hopelessness.

We gather for the next major story, Doug's "The Soul of Hope." Throughout this two-act spiritual adventure story, we meet mystical rabbis who are struggling to change the very nature of the universe, only to find themselves face-to-face with their own all-too-human limitations.  The Soul of Hope ends with a challenge to tell our untold stories. We'll have a chance to begin doing so. As we do, we'll move into our visions for the effect we want our lives to have in the world.

Creating Our Vision

This sets the scene for the final big story of our journey, Pam's galvanizing tale of Victoria Woodhull - a heroic woman nearly written out of history. Although few know her name, Victoria Woodhull was the first woman to run for president of the United States. (Her running mate was Frederick Douglass.) She was the first woman to own and operate her own newspaper. (And became the only North American editor to interview Karl Marx in her pages.)

In an age when married women could not own property, Victoria was the first woman to own a seat on the New York stock exchange (and to offer her financial services to married women who discreetly entered through the rear door). In an age when voting rights for women seemed hopelessly visionary, she stumped the country as one of the era's highest-paid public speakers, arguing for total freedom for women.

Reviled by the popular press, harassed legally by the original "vice squad" (a self-appointed prosecutor who was offended by Victoria's "lewd" language, such as her printing of a passage of the Bible that included the word "pregnant"), scorned by her former allies in the women's movement, she fled the country, ending her days in England.

We'll use Pam's story to explore themes in our own lives, such as integrity, principle, and finding those who will support us.

The Pure Metal Remains

By the time we gather for a circle of farewells, we will have become witnesses to each other's hopes and visions.

Heading into the sun as we ride the ferry back on Sunday afternoon, we'll be different people. The power of the big stories we have heard, the cleansing process of telling our own stories, and the warmth of the community we created - all three of these will have smelted our inner ores more completely into the precious metals of who we each truly are.

Act Now and Save

The tuition for this experience is just $545; the fee for room (four days and three nights) and all your meals (from Thursday dinner through Sunday lunch) is $429.19 (includes state sales tax).

We think the room and board fee is a bargain. You could reasonably expect staying in a historic mansion to cost more than $150 per night, without food. To stay on an exotic island, in a mansion closed to the general public, and eat four days and three nights is only $429.19.

The round-trip ferry costs just $10. The optional tour is free for our group. Obviously, even a 13-bedroom mansion has limited occupancy. Some rooms have two beds; some have three. (The price we have to pay for your room and board is the same, regardless of which room you sign up for. For maximum choice, register now.) If you can imagine yourself as one of the 26 (maximum) explorers on this adventure, we recommend that you enroll today - and avoid the risk of missing out.

Bonus for signing up by October 25!

Offer #1: A Free Preview Tape - Available Nowhere Else

First, if you complete your application by October 25, we'll give you a free preview tape of Jay's "Pouring the Sun." Recorded at Lehigh University during the Steel Festival, this premier performance thrilled the crowd. This is the actual concert recording, complete with small gaps where the tape was turned over. You can also hear the reaction of the listeners - many of them former steel workers and their families. For them, Ludvika's story was their story.

Jay has just released a studio recording of "Pouring the Sun." But Jay is making a limited number of these live recordings available to registrants for this adventure.

And Jay will sign your copy.

Like Doug's tape of "The Soul of Hope," (item 3, below) we'd love for you to listen to this tape in advance, to help you get the most from your inner adventure on Sapelo.

To get your free, signed tape, send your application immediately. We must receive it by October 25 to reserve your free tape.

Offer #2: Get a Free Ferry Ride

With your full payment, we'll also pay your fare on the Sapelo Island Ferry - an additional savings of $10. This is the ferry that will bring you onto the island early Thursday evening and return you to the mainland Sunday afternoon.

Offer #3: Free Award-Winning Double-Cassette

One last incentive to be sure you don't miss the Sapelo Island Adventure: register now and we'll send you a signed copy of Doug's Jewish mystical adventure story, "The Soul of Hope."

Winner of the Storytelling World award, this double-cassette set was described by The Second Story Review as "Brilliant." Bruce McCabe of The Boston Globe had this to say about the story: "A fascinating story of Jewish spirit and myth... A Hasidic tale about combating despair, finding hope, and transforming the world. It's a spiritual adventure and a Jewish mystical epic." Normally $17.95 plus shipping, this set is yours with your paid application.

Getting to Sapelo

The ferry departs from Meridian, Georgia. Meridian is a 90-minute drive from Savannah, GA or about a two-hour drive from Jacksonville, Florida. Cars may be left free of charge at the Visitor Center lot in Meridian.

If you are flying to Jacksonville (cheaper from most destinations) we will help you make arrangements for a van ride, if you prefer not to rent a car.

On Thursday, November 30, plan to arrive at Meridian by 4 pm at the latest. If you do not arrive by 5 pm, you will miss the last outbound ferry of the day!

Returning from the island on Sunday, December 3, we will catch the 4 pm inbound ferry, scheduled to arrive at Meridian by 4:30 pm. We'll hold a brief ceremony to honor the end of our quest. You should be on the road by 5:15 pm.

Four Reasons to Sign Up Today

Here's how it all adds up. Send your application by October 25, and you'll get all of these:

1) A guaranteed place in the Sapelo Island Adventure - a unique experience in a unique location. A chance to let the power of story work its magic on you.

2) A signed copy of a preview tape of Jay's "Pouring the Sun."

3) Prepaid ferry fare. ($10 savings.)

4) Free double-cassette set, "The Soul of Hope."

We hope you will be one of the 26 to join us on this exploration. Please contact us today:

* Email for a complete packet (please include your postal address). Or: * Call toll-free 1-888-446-4738 (international callers:
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), press "1" for the 2-minute recorded message, then leave your name and postal address. Or: * Call Jay O'Callahan's office toll-free to speak to a live person, 1-800-626-5356.

Yours, Doug Lipman, Pam McGrath, and Jay O'Callahan P.S., To make sure you don't miss out, just call 1-888-446-4738 today. Or email . We'll hold your place until your check can arrive.

(To see the photos and use the links in this article, go to http://storydynamics.com/services/workshops/sapelo.html)

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This page was last updated on Friday, November 28, 2003
Copyright©2003 Doug Lipman