15,000 Stories needs international writers to exist.....nobody wants to just hear MY stories do they?

NOTE - Oct 2, 2009
The story group has gone through changes. They say that changes are positive. The best change I can imagine is that YOU write a story on the group! Why? Read below and then decide if you feel my initial reason for starting this group is valid.....I think you just may see that it is. Hope so!

Click on some of the previous pages at the bottom of the 15,000 Stories page. It will be worth the click! The stories we have gotten for most of the group's lifetime are magnificent, I assure you, you will be impressed and inspired!

DIFFICULT MISSION: The most difficult writing I can ever remember doing – explaining the meaning behind creating this group and about various things that happened on the group lately. To help you understand better, let me start by giving you a little history about myself and MY life…..

NORMALITY IN THE USA: I grew up in a normal American family: divorced parents, mother re-married, 2 brothers 1 sister, a dog, a parakeet and a few turtles and a goldfish. I had summer jobs, went to camp, took swimming lessons, piano lessons, learned to play guitar, to sew and had a sewing machine. I gave parties, went skating, bike-riding and started art at an early age that continued into adulthood. We had a car, two phones, a house with a yard and a big plastic swimming pool. I was no richer than my friends, nor poorer. California was easy living and I had few questions to ask about the world.

THE WORLD EXISTS! At 17 I went folk dancing and realized that the world existed just a few blocks from home! I met people from at least 7 different countries, and my realization of the world began. At 18 I went to Europe and preferred it to America since it seemed more “real”. I now live in Italy, where I have been for most of my life. I am lucky to travel and believe in one thing strongly – we need to learn about each other in order to understand WHY we do things the way we do, and why we THINK things as we do.

COMUNICATION, THE KEY: Having these initial contacts with foreigners made me curious about them my whole life. After a 6 week stay in China, I realized the power a mere smile had when communicating with people of different language and culture. I stopped people on the street and asked to photograph them. When I showed these photos several times here in Italy my Chinese friends here said “Thank you for showing the human side of China!” EVERYONE wants and needs to be heard. EVERYONE has something to say! Even quiet people, timid people, simple workers, everyone has value. What better way to know people than through their own personal stories!

THE 15,000 STORIES GROUP BEGAN: I knew that my contribution to peace would be to help people communicate by writing about themselves. As the group grew, people referred to it as a “campfire” where someone from Alaska shared difficult but fascinating adventures in remote Alaska while others shared adventurous tales in different parts of America, or delicate observations of living in India. I asked people to “Tell a story that will inspire and motivate others, tell about your life, your family, your experiences…hopefully something that will bring a smile to the faces of others.” For months the group was an exciting place to read the marvellous stories of many newly made friends. We really were having fun and learning a lot from one another. Some special friendships were made here, (but you already know how great some of these friendships on iPeace become…!)

SOMETHING WAS MISSING: I realized that something was missing…not EVERYONE was writing. Not every nationality was participating. Mostly English mother tongue writers were writing, and so, we weren’t getting a WHOLE picture. I wanted to know what it was like to live in Africa, or in Iran, I wanted the quieter person to tell his story, to let EVERYONE have a chance. The people who wrote the stories were basically from similar roots. One writer from India who had never written stories before did so here…and we discovered together that he has true talent for writing! It was the most exciting of experiences for me on the group, discovering with him, his talent (and reading his marvellous observations of his own life in India).

TROUBLE BEGAN: A few writers from other countries did pitch in, but not on a regular basis. I could see that people were shy, not wanting to show their flaws in writing incorrectly. People didn’t realize that a “story” could even be a few sentences to tell about things that happened on a daily basis. Some people posted too many comments. One person wrote me saying that the comments made the group look like a “chatroom”. Hmmm, I thought, I, as the group leader will now have to deal with solving some of the little problems that are forming.

STORY GROUP FOR STORIES: I also had to get people back on track by telling them that vivid negative details were not appreciated on the group, and that comments should be put on the comment page. It was and is not easy being a group leader! I wanted people to be able to click onto the page and find stories, and if they wanted to make comments, to put those on the comments page. I was even told that I was being too strict in wanting certain things. I was feeling puzzled about what and how to do things. In the meantime, writers were writing on my page saying that they were having problems in their lives and would write less now.

BUSY LIVES, HEALTH, CHANGES: The most active writers stopped writing because they were too busy and had big life changes. I myself am always very busy, giving myself lots of projects. But the group meant a lot to me. I kept it going, checking it daily several times when possible. Having made friends here, many wrote to me explaining what was going on. One writer had health problems. It was normal that things changed, that is L I F E !!

NEVER AT A LOSS FOR WORDS: I personally could tell a story a day with no problem. I could tell TEN a day. I look at life as interesting and intriguing. I see things and their possibilities as stories, as photographs, as paintings. But I alone could not keep the group going, and that was not the point….to have just ONE view of the world, my view. I wanted people to share and motivate and inspire (my two favourite words at this point in life).

ALMOST ALL ALONE: All of a sudden, I and Robby (energy-packed poet) were alone on the group! The group kept going, but at the same time I believe that people felt they didn’t want to cut in. Robby has the capacity of writing one poem after another…and JUST TODAY she said she was sorry if she offended anyone. I appreciate her writing that. I am sure that people were trying to understand what was going on here….and I didn’t know what to do.

WHERE WERE PEOPLE? With nearly 200 members of the story group, I didn’t know who was following and who was not! And with all the virtual silence there is here, I didn’t know what people were thinking about the group. They seemed to be reading but at the same time, not contributing. New people weren’t seeing the story after story of the first 200 or so pages of the group: The stories are magnificent!( psst!! They are worth reading by anyone who has a free week to do so, I highly recommend reading all of the stories!)

BRAINSTORM: I knew that I had to explain the reason for this group. It was and is a valid reason, I believe. All year long I got support and so I knew that people who had supported the group knew the value behind it.

I REPEAT: The meaning behind the group has been this all along: I want people to tell us about their life, their day, their deepest thoughts in a simple story form. This “story” could be a trip to the marketplace, or an airplane ride. It could be watching plants grow, or taking a dog for a walk. It could be the feelings you have for your family, or the hardships you had while growing up. I asked people to not tell about sad or unpleasant things but to tell stories where a smile was felt by those reading it.

THANK YOU THANK YOU: Of course I DO want to thank all of the people who got this group off the ground and running beautifully for almost a full year! I am sorry to have seen several of you leave. You know who you are! But the moments here enriched my life, and the sharing was real. Thanks for all you did for the group (hours and hours of story telling, months of good times and inspiration for all).

WHEN YOU BELIEVE IN SOMETHING: that something just HAS to continue, because it becomes part of YOU. That is how I feel about this group. It will continue, on my part. But the meaning behind the group is for all people to share about their lives so that we can know one another. And that means that there is just ONE story that is missing…..just one story we are waiting to hear….

The above was written by Stephanie Seymour, Californian artist living in Perugia, Italy. I have travelled often taking photographs of people I meet on the street, even when verbal communication is impossible, as it was in China. Communication I feel is THE problem at the base of all problems. I try to get people together to know one another. If you feel you would like to participate in the 15,000 Stories group, please don’t hesitate! YOUR story is unique, just as you are. Come share with us. And if you have read this entire blog that took me a month to figure out how to do it, thanks for doing so!
With friendship,

PS The photo is of me at my current photography and painting show in the middle of town in Perugia, Italy. Included are many pieces inspired by my travel to China, as you can see in the photographs to my right. Do you see an Aunt Jemima pancake mix in there? A bit of irony is just what I enjoy....so if you come to the group, don't be surprised by my ironic comments just to help keep people awake while typing away for hours on the computer.

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Comment by Clicia Pavan on September 28, 2009 at 6:26am

Stephanie e Robby you both are wonderful!!!
Comment by Clicia Pavan on September 28, 2009 at 6:23am

Congratulations,Stephanie Hei Robby, poet girl that I love
love, love love
Comment by s <3 on September 27, 2009 at 9:54am
:) no bow tie, just a heart felt xox

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