Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Barry Lopez Encourages Conversations

Tonight, in Boise, Barry Lopez told us about storytelling and how the words and ideas of a storyteller can, and should, have the outcome of encouraging new conversations and ideas in a community.

This Blog post gives me the opportunity to add my own comments to the story I heard Barry Lopez tell. I should note that an audience member asked Barry if the story he told tonight was written down anywhere for others to read? My interpretation of his response was that it was not written down anywhere except in the notes he held in his hand, and that we in the audience should go out and tell our own stories about what we think is important. He also said that if his talk stimulated this further conversation he had done his job. Here, tonight, I will add a few of my own initial comments to start doing my share.

Barry talked about the growing interest by individuals to participate in their communities and to take on the role of helping to solve problems and providing future opportunities that current Federal, State and local governments are not. He believes young people are especially motivated in this direction, but all of us, even older generations, can and should be integrally involved as well.

I met Barry a few times in the late 1960's when we both lived on the McKenzie River near Eugene, Oregon. He was a young writer, gaining a reputation and I was involved at the University of Oregon in a community outdoor recreation and environmental networking project that had connections in many colleges and communities in North America. For more than a decade from the early 60's until the late 70's much has been written about the tremendous citizen collaboration and community participation in environmental issues with people of all ages that helped create a positive environmental perspective on the future in America and around the world. Many people in the Boise audience tonight may have also been involved in this exhilarating and exciting process.

Somehow, this "flash" of energetic citizen involvement seems to have been diminished over the last 25 + years. I believe Barry Lopez told a story tonight about how these conversations and community involvement can be revived and that we should expect current and future generations to again imagine and shape the future in positive ways.

Barry Lopez left us tonight with a very positive message and "Hope" for the future.

There were many other parts to the story that Barry told tonight about polar bears, climate issues, and people he has met in other countries. As he writes and tells these stories I know people are encouraged to start good conversations with friends and neighbors in their own communities. And, as Barry also noted that the good storyteller fades into the background as this happens.

Thank you, Barry Lopez.

His talk and story in Boise was provided by "The Cabin Literary Center."

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