Whose Story is it Anyway? Telling the Stories of SIGs, Chapters, and Colleges
Tuesday, November 4, 2014
Julie E. Kendall, Rutgers University
AIS VP for SIGs, Chapters, and Colleges
An old Hopi Native American proverb observes, “Those who tell the stories rule the world.”
One of the joys of serving as Vice President for SIGs, Chapters, and Colleges, is to be present at their founding. Witnessing these births is a rare treat. Each SIG or chapter has their own unique motivation, their own reasons for being, often times only one or two people know this motivation at first. As the proposal for the SIG or chapter is formalized, the outline of the rules, values, and philosophy – including the hoped for worth of the proposed subdivision - become clearer.
When the SIG or chapter is proposed to the entire AIS Council and voted on by them, it is an international endorsement of the validity of the group. And yet, not much of the group is known.
I want to urge you to tell your SIG, chapter, or college’s story. You can tell a creation story of how and why you came to be. Not many AIS members know that story yet, and if your SIG or hapter is an older one, then this bit of history may have been lost when original members left and new ones came in. I had a journalism professor at University of Wisconsin Milwaukee when I was doing my master's degree who told us, “Always keep track of beginnings and endings. That’s where there will be an interesting story.”
You can write a story about the terrific track you put together for AMCIS and what promising relationship blossomed after the track as a result of the interactions in the session, or tell a story about the “hero” of your group who kept the SIG together when it seemed as if everything was falling apart. Or you can tell the story of when you had to fight hard to keep a proposed track going; urged someone shy to run for president; solved the problem of financing a workshop; learned of candidates who were worthy of the SIG or chapter’s annual awards, or any other dramatic moment.
These are the stories that engage members, whether they are discovering the SIG or chapter for the first time, or they have been highly active members since the beginning. Stories unite the group.
Some stories come with lavish illustrations. Many groups have numerous photos of award winners, their meetings, or even a day in the life of their officers. Weave these representations into your stories so that when a reader spots you at a meeting next time, they’ll be able to say “What a great story! I’m thinking of joining your group.”
The wonderful new musical production at Public Theater, The Fortress of Solitude is based on the 2003 novel by Jonathan Lethem and written by an acquaintance of ours, composer and lyricist Michael Friedman, and playwright Itamar Moses. In it many stories are told, and many people are urged to tell their stories. Toward the end of the play, questions of who should tell which story are asked. Indeed, whose story is it, anyway? Is it the one who lives it, the one who tells it, the one who derives meaning from it?
AIS publishes the AIS InSider as well as a SIGs and chapter newsletter. Most SIGs, chapters, and colleges have websites that thrive on fresh content. We would love to hear your story. Write the story of your SIG, chapter, or college as only you can and let AIS tell it to the world.
Do you want to create a new story? Then join a SIG or chapter today. Consider it as a way for you to connect with others to tell your ‘story.’ Click here for more information on joining a SIG or chapter.
Kerpen, D. (2014). “13 Quotes to Inspire Your Inner Storyteller,” found at http://www.inc.com/dave-kerpen/you-need-to-become-a-better-storyteller-heres-some-inspiration.html last accessed 10/14/2014.
http://www.publictheater.org/en/Public-Theater-Season/The-Fortress-of-Solitude/ last accessed 10/14/2014.