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    Your Story is More Than a Survival Guide:

    a storytelling workbook for people who want to make a difference  


    I created this FREE open access informational workbook on storytelling as part of my MS in Justice Studies at ASU.There are 3 ways to access the book available lower on this page.


    If you're interested in hiring Joy for consultations on utilizing the workbook for your organization, one-on-one storycoaching, or as a speaker please contact them directly at joyeyoung@gmail.com.

    An incomplete list of people this book may be a good fit for:


    Individuals interested in storytelling, person(s) wanting to use storytelling for their organizations (including working with individuals to tell stories of how your organization has made an impact), person(s) looking to use story for policy work, storytellers looking for new frameworks for finding or telling stories, persons intersted in using storytelling to move through trauma and heal, teaching-artists and storytellers contemplating trauma-informed practices, and more


    I come to this work as a deeply embedded member and organizer of the greater Phoenix, AZ storytelling community (who is now located in Chicago, IL) as well as a member of the national slam poetry community. I have a preexisting, deep investment in this topic.

    I’ve witnessed the efficacy of storytelling spaces and programs for many kinds of people. I’ve primarily used narrative arts as a modality to move through and beyond trauma, but I believe that in a quest for social justice, story is critical and has, perhaps, endless applications. In my professional life, I see storytelling surging through society, particularly within arenas looking to transform some aspect of society or serve human needs– for instance in medical and scientific fields there is a push for storytelling to better convey information to people outside the field and in the former to better source data from patients as well as to create trust. When I talk to people in spaces I teach, the idea of feeling seen or unseen (or mis-seen) comes up again and again. This is also a recurring theme when talking about many issues critical to social justice: race, gender, dis/ability, immigration status, food scarcity, economic injustice… the list goes on and on. As I unpack people’s stories, at their core, is a need for feeling seen, for belonging, to feel not an affinity through identity alone, but a deeper understanding as a full person, especially among those who sit at complex intersections of identity. This understanding is necessary for problem solving that comes from communities rather than from outside them and for creating better capacity for us to work in coalition on complex problems, but perhaps most important to me is that I believe there is a very human magic locked within our stories that connects us;I think justice relies on that magic.


    This work in story came about because as an undergraduate student, I studied Liberal Studies in an unusual program (the Hutchins School for Liberal Arts at Sonoma State which implements integrative seminar based learning to meet all lower division GE requirements in one course) and Women and Gender Studies. In these classrooms, I discovered language for my own lived experiences, but that language, which was expressed through theory – particularly queer, intersectional feminist, postmodern, and poststructuralist theories – wasn’t something I could bring home in any meaningful way. I was the first in my fairly religious conservative family to go to college and as I moved through my studies (and came out-- first as gay and much later as non-binary) the cultural capital and lived experience gaps between me and my family became a chasm I could not communicate across.

    A short time after college, I found myself unexpectedly at a poetry slam in Phoenix Arizona (how I got there is another story involving love lost, social anxiety, and a shirtless man in a cape). At the time, I would have never believed I would get on that or any other stage, let alone become a performer/artist of any sort, but as I listened to people’s poems, I recognized something familiar and resonant. I know now that the familiarity was poetics – which had always been the pieces of theory I loved most. Every theorist whose work I fell in love with utilized poetics (or what I read as poetics) from the obvious like Audre Lorde to the less expected like Judith Butler. Much to my own surprise, I became a somewhat successful slam poet and then a storyteller– the latter allowing me to unpack the poetics of the former in a language and a medium I could bring home. For the first time in my life, I felt I had the tools necessary to communicate and be seen. More than that, I could see myself and was watching my relationality to the world around me and my own sense of identity began to shift profoundly.

    I spent the next 10 years developing as an artist and teaching artist, slowly realizing that I was more interested in people’s stories than telling my own story as I listened to countless others share. I performed and taught poetry and storytelling all over the country while being centered in Phoenix, AZ. On a poetry tour in 2016 I got a call from a former student the morning after the Pulse shooting, a shooting that took place in a gay Florida nightclub and resulted in 49 deaths. We spoke for a long time about what had happened, about how the victims, there in the club on Latin night, looked like them– queer and brown. We spoke about how critical it is that we all tell our stories. We talked about finding spaces of joy and how the telling of those moments is resistance in a world not designed for our survival. We talked about re-storying and using narrative arts to move through/beyond trauma and make change for ourselves and others. On that trip, I realized that not only had Phoenix become the first place that felt like a home for me, but that storytelling felt like my calling and had become a deep source of joy for me. That encounter became a performance poem and I can not recall how many people have spoken to me about it after, citing having not thought about queerness and/or race and/or survival and/or joy in the ways the poem explores. Why so many and/ors? Simply put, some of the power of story (in this case a narrative poem) exists in its capacity to meet an audience where it is at, to allow the listener to find the message(s) within it that they need to and/or are capable of hearing.



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    Direct Download

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    click here



    Accessible Link

    Looking for an accessible, screen-reader friendly, all-text version of the book (including image descriptions)?

    Use this link




    Can't access a PDF or are you wanting to take this resource and adjust it for use with your community?

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    by clicking here


    Before there was written language, there was story. There is something almost primal in our draw to it, in its capacity to hold us fixated and leave us transformed. From mainstream movies and TV shows to podcasts and marketing campaigns, story, in its many iterations, is all around us in contemporary society. But how can we utilize our own stories in our work toward social justice and how does it work? What is story doing to us? How are we as individuals and a society crafted from it? Can, and how, might hegemony be destabilized, and in what ways, through story? How might story transform not only what we know but what we can know and what worlds we might imagine? The informational workbook I have created seeks to clarify based on current research what storytelling is, how it functions, and situate story as perhaps one of the most crucial tools we have with which to fashion a more just reality. The material here reviews much of the literature the informational workbook is based on as well as giving readers a better understanding of why I am doing this work, and the process and thought behind what I have created. I hope it serves as a place other researchers might also begin or continue their search for understanding this topic.