Share your Story

First of all, thanks! Thanks to Špela,  who has given me the inspiration to write this post with the recount “The Search for the Invisible” posted on her blog. You can drop by and say hello. It’s another demonstration of the fact that a good story never dies, it only leads to other stories. Well done, brave friend, and may we meet again on the road somewhere! (Hopefully soon?)

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Well done to Špela the explorer, and I hope to read more of your adventures soon!

So… Share your Story was a training course we realised in Sermugnano, Italy, in January 2015.

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A place famous for relax, inspiring landscape, great food and CATS. LOTS OF CATS.

The main topics were “Backpack Journalism“, active citizenship and media (and social media) on democracy. In short – we wanted to discuss the impact that communication is having on our lives today, and if and how is it possible to be critical members of the mediasphere, having a positive impact on society. It was realised thanks to the support of the European programme for non formal education, Erasmus+. Thank you, European Union (while you are still there, know this: I love you).

Anyway. We set off with a very ambitious agenda and, with the help of a few valiant friends and mentors, and a fantastic group of participants, I think the mission was really accomplished!

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The programme of the week. I promise, we did it all!

Let’s quickly see what happened. We worked on “Storytelling” in a very wide sense. What is a story, what are its powers, and why is it that some are very successful and can change our life (and the world!), while others are just forgotten.

We started our journey with a magical workshop with our dear friend Vania Castelfranchi, theatre actor, director, role playing game designer. By exploring with him traditional theatre characters and archetypes, we were all able to explore our inner worlds one step deeper. It was a perfect way to get introduced to the course and to run the “team building” process with the group, at the same time expressing creativity and having lots, lots of fun.

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Working with Vania is honestly, a great gift. For his passion, the honesty of his work and the amazing discoveries I make every single time.

Over the week, we wanted to be always on two dimensions. Communication today seems to be all about technology. Where would we be without our smartphones, laptops, internet? (I don’t know about you, but I would be in panic. I am afraid I am technically addicted to the internet really enjoy spending some time every day exploring the digital space).  So much that it makes sense to change the traditional pyramid of Abraham Maslow for human basic needs.

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I am sure Maslow had a different idea for his model. Instead of elevating ourselves, we reached the bottom and started digging. Oh, well.

That’s right. And in our course, we did spend quite some time in the cyberspace. Exploring digital tools to make our cool online storytelling, even more cool. We had the support of two support trainers, Ivan Turatti from Italy, who helped us to explore the jungle of digital media tools and platforms in a creative workshop,

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Ivan seems a bit perplexed about what’s happening there.

and Martin”Crysman” Zahradnik from Brno, Czech Republic, who worked on us on basic hacking (NOT piracy: hackers are the good guys), IT skills and blogging.

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Thanks, Martin, for your warm heart and your contributions! And yes, let’s STOP ACTA.

We also discussed the evolution of media through the ages, ending with the very strong impact that they can have on our society and on politics today. Which can be good OR bad – and we are much more powerful than we think in this process. Especially thanks to the boom of social media. It is a totally new ecosystem, and we are still learning to live in it. It presents new amazing opportunities, and of course also unprecedented problems.
The funny thing is when we try to solve new situations using old solutions. Surprise surprise: they don’t work.

For example: true, at times our working space looked like the dining room of a very nerdy LAN party. This illustrated very nice a new, challenging question to us: is there a limit? What is “too much” exposure to technology?

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Do you know who is happier than me with a smartphone? Me, with two smartphones. After I moved to Prague. Really, my life is a mess.

 I also find it very interesting. In my daily life, I spend waaaay too much time at the computer. And when I am not at the pc, then it’s the smartphone. And it’s not (only) work! Watching movies or series, reading news or posts, writing, gaming… so much of my “social life” has moved online. And I am not really willing to let it go. (Is there anything like a “happy addiction”? Wait, no need to answer, thanks).

In fact, sometimes it’s thanks to work that I am able to take a proper break from technology, and move back to a more natural space and way of life. And this is also what we did in Share your Story.

As i said, we were always working on two dimensions. One was the technological one: cyberspace, social media, computer screens. But we were very careful to design the programme so that at least the other half of the programme was based on a more natural approach to stories and storytelling,

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“So everybody, gather around, the show is about to begin…”

including myth, exploring how stories were created – and still are – and what is it that makes them such a powerful tool, still now to our days.

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I don’t remember what was happening here, but it’s a great excuse to show how great the place looked in the sun.

We were blessed by an incredible week of beautiful winter weather (remember: it was January!)

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JANUARY – and having lunch outside.

And we experienced many authentic moments of inspiration and reflection with the group and within ourselves. This is now a fundamental part of each of our courses and I am really grateful for it. Every time I meet such a group of committed, talented and brave people I get a complete refill of motivation, enthusiasm and optimism for life.

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Sometimes a cloudy sky is really the perfect background for reflection. Adrian seems to know.
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Civita di Bagnoregio is always stunning. The place seems to have written INSPIRATION all over it. No seriously, I hope nobody takes this too literally as an advice. It would be a vandalic act. Don’t do it.
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Sara and Nona pose for one picture, caught in the middle of reflection time. Say “refleeeect”!

The course ended with one day of “collecting stories”. People had one full day to organise their work as they wanted, go out, find a story, and report about it. The creativity and the inspiration that resulted were FANTASTIC. I will only share two of the products here, but I invite other people to put their creations online if they want, and share them here on the blog.

This is a fantastic short video, realised in stop motion, that explains what is “Backpack Journalism” and why is it so cool:

While this is the link to Mateja’s blog, which tells the story of Mateja, Olya and Lena

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Here, the three  totally insane girls brave travellers!

who decided to take the challenge and go – all alone – on a hitch-hiking tour of the Bolsena Lake, and be back for dinner to tell the story. And they made it.

99.9 kilometres, 9 places visted, 9 cars hitched and little more than 5 hours to complete the challenge. And yes, it’s a demonstration of the fact that a blonde, a ginger and a brunette with the right motivation and absolutely no idea of what they were doing a true passion for adventure will be in no danger exploring rural Italy, and will end with a hell of a story to tell. Like “Charlie’s Angels” meet “La Dolce Vita”. How great!

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We also had so much fun together. It doesn’t just happen all the time. The feeling was of a big family staying together, thanks no doubt also to the “Sermugnano Effect” as we call it, and to the lovely home made food prepared with care by our cooks: Angelo and Francesco.

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Angelo (yes, my dad!) He really puts so much love in his cooking. It feels like home every time.
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And Francesco. Without all his care and ideas, our place in Sermugnano would be a total ruin. Grazie, Fra!

Well, maybe even too much: at one point it became necessary from my side to provide detailed instructions on how to eat when you are in Italy.  Seriously, people. When in Rome…

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My eyes bleed when I see all courses put on top of each other in the same dish. PASTA AND SALAD TOGETHER? NO-NO, EVER. Please!

The programme also included: half a day relax trip to Civita, with the proper bus and all the fun:

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Aww, even after all this time, I can still hear them singing. Unfortunately.

An Introduction to Monomyth, as per my usual (but I don’t think I used Star Wars, this time. Too bad)

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Me & the Monomytyh (again). I think I have around 100 pictures with this subject by now.

Public Speaking and Presentation Skills

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And Bara having her pitch about the Elevator Pitch. How to hook your audience?

And of course our favourite, “Service and Care” (R), thanks to which the group could explore the joys of community service, like gardening

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The flowers are still there!

and Media Group, which given the topic of the course gave especially remarkable results. Amazing, guys, thanks!

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Hard to answer, really.

Lots of selfies were taken

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Selfie Contest in Civita di Bagnoregio, allright!

And people really took seriously the idea of exploring more of the Italian culture, like its public transport system

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This was, indeed, NOT public. I hope the keys were not in at least.

or the main landmarks of the Italian Cultural Heritage

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We managed to sneak one of our participant with a “press entrance” to the Olympic Stadium in rome. This was Lazio – Napoli (0-1). When Napoli was still able to win anything at all. Thanks, Zolt!

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And all in all, I remember it as a fantastic experience, blessed with great weather, reflection, inspiration and a lot of authentic and genuine human contact.

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BONFIRE NIGHT. At a storytelling course. Feels about right.

Thanks, brave travellers and storytellers!

Something tells me that we are going to work again on this topic, maybe sooner than later. We are working to realise more courses on similar topics and using similar methods. And it will be with great pleasure. You can also be involved: contact us. Until soon!

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Thank you, fantastic people and amazing stories! Let’s do it again!
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