Cincy Stories events help break down barriers, create empathy


MOTR Pub will host the second night of the Cincy Stories series on Tuesday, May 5, to continue breaking down walls and helping create a safe place for people to share and hear the stories of fellow Cincinnatians.
 
Shawn Braley and a group of his friends started Cincy Stories because of how hard it is to get to know people in a large city.
 
“You might meet someone in a bar and get to talking, but it’s hard to know their story,” Braley says. “We wanted to bring something like the podcasts we listen to to Cincinnati, where even the boring stories can be exciting.”
 
Cincy Stories invites public figures to share their stories, which helps the audience see them as human beings rather than just a prominent figure, politician or entrepreneur. The first Cincy Stories event in February featured Ryan Messer, a community leader in Over-the-Rhine; Chris Seelbach, the first openly gay politician elected to the Cincinnati City Council; and Molly Wellmann of Wellmann’s Brands.
 
Everyone’s story is different and range from heartbreaking to beautiful to funny. Braley says the events don’t have an overarching theme, but he likes the idea of each event being open and seeing where people go with their stories.
 
“As an English major, I read a lot of fiction and nonfiction, which I think made me a more empathetic person,” he says. “The stories taught me empathy, and I hope these events help create more empathy in people and show that there is something deeper beneath the surface in all of us.”

Cincy Stories fits in well with Cincinnati's growing interest in storytelling, a trend that's popular in major cities across the country. Comedian/performer Paul Strickland holds regular storytelling workshops at Know Theatre, which has also hosted True Theatre's storytelling nights for several years. The Cincinnati Enquirer is doing its own storytelling events. And this week the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati is hosting local nonprofit leaders to tell the stories of how they decided to “change the world.”
 
Guest speakers for the May 5 event (beginning at 7 p.m.) include Joe Boyd of Rebel Storytellers; John Faherty, who organizes The Enquirer's storytelling events; Kathryne Gardette, who recently was honored as an Enquirer Woman of the Year; Allen Woods of MORTAR; and writer and teacher Elissa Yancey. Music will be provided by the band The Part-Time Gentlemen.
 

Read more articles by Caitlin Koenig.

Caitlin Koenig is a Cincinnati transplant and 2012 grad of the School of Journalism at the University of Missouri. She's the department editor for Soapbox Media and currently lives in Northside with her husband, Andrew, and their three furry children. Follow Caitlin on Twitter at @caite_13.  
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