"Become aware what is in you. Announce it, pronounce it, produce it and give birth to it." - Meister Eckhart

03 July 2016

Helping VisitScotland spread the news - Scotland's got #ScotSpirit

Storyteller Michael Williams
speaking at VisitScotland's
 "Spirit of Scotland" event in
Edinburgh, Scotland
The Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh saw the launch of VisitScotland's "Spirit of Scotland" project on Thursday night 30th June 2016.

The project invites anyone with a story to share about their experience of anywhere in Scotland to share it with a photo and story on the project's new website. In particular, those in the tourism industry are encouraged to become "ambassadors" to promote the project. Although still in the "beta" stage, the project already has hundreds of partners. The project will go live next week.

Fiona Hyslop, Scotland's Cabinet-Secretary of Culture, Tourism and External Affairs helped launch the project, reminding us what a rich, story-filled place Scotland is and how powerful these stories are when shared around the world, bringing tourists and business to our shores as well as stimulating business abroad.

StoryCoach Michael Williams closed the night with an equally inspiring speech about the power of story to create community, sharing his experience of how story convinced him to move from Canada and make Scotland his home. Michael concluded, "The truth is that Scotland is a rich story-filled place. There’s hardly a place in this country that doesn’t invoke a story or has one ready to share with you, even the wild places. The Scottish people are proud of their villages, towns and cities, proud of their natural heritage, proud of their history. And they love to share stories. What a rich resource to tap and share with others."

Learn more about the "Spirit of Scotland" and how you can contribute by going to the VisitScotland web site.

11 June 2016

Ben Okri on the importance of storytelling

Ben Okri
(photo courtesy of Wikipedia)
On the 23rd of August 2013, novelist Ben Okri gave a talk at the International School of Storytelling at Emerson College at Forest Row in England. That speech was later published in a small booklet entitled The Mystery Feast: Thoughts on Storytelling (2015). It's a wonderful collection of Okri's thoughts and feelings about the transformative power of storytelling and its importance in our salvation. I quote a typical passage below:

“No civilisation ever became great on knowledge alone. Indeed it is the imaginative dimension of civilisations which gives them distinction. What would ancient Greece be without its tragedians, its Parthenon, its Homeric epics? What would ancient Egypt be without its pyramids, its temples? Imagination dreams what that which knowledge makes real. It could be said that imagination is the porto-reality. A people can only create what they can imagine. If in some mysterious way we fall short of the ancients, it may be because we have long ceased to cultivate, to the highest degree, the fruits of the imagination, of the spirit. That despairing cry from the Bible should always haunt us. “For lack of vision my people perish.” . . .  How do we awaken imagination? How do we awaken vision? One of the ways, passed down to us with cunning simplicity by our ancestors, is storytelling.” 

Ben Okri, The Mystery Feast: Thoughts on Storytelling, “Under the Sun: a meditation on stories, notes to a modern storyteller” (Claireview Books Ltd, 2015, pp. 14-15).


"We have received only very positive reports of your workshop, and must thank you for being so flexible and responsive both before and in the course of implementing the workshop. It has been lovely to work with you. . . . We are hopeful this project will give rise to future storytelling endeavours, and would be very happy to work with you again if the opportunity arises!" Muireann Crowley, At Home in Scotland, University of Edinburgh, May 2014 ("Storytelling, Research and Public Engagement" workshop)

Michael Williams is a a storyteller of compelling skill. He is also a fine human being who engages in all situations and draws people into the warmth of communication and shared experience." Donald Smith, Director, Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh Scotland

"Michael's understanding of storytelling within a leadership and business context has helped us provide a great service in helping leaders determine their personal and organisational destiny and legacy. Working with Michael is inspiring and fun; and pulls you to be fully engaged from start to finish." Norton Bertram-Smith, Managing Director and Leadership Consultant for On Purpose.

Kamink: the little boy who grew into a giant of a man

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Creative Scotland
I'm grateful to Creative Scotland for its support.