Discover and share stories

of adventure, connection, and change making.

151 people think this is good


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  • Ben Weinlick

    Whoa, This is great. How have I not known about this awesome work until now...? I searched story on and this came up.

    We're designing with people with disabilities to help them find and tell their inspiring stories of how they contribute as full citizens.

    Your work at first glance seems to intersect social R & D, design thinking, ethnography, and of course story.

    Excited as it seems you are doing similar work to what some social R & D explorers and I are working on in Canada. A video about how we've been linking aspects of design thinking and creative problem solving to help improve the citizenship experience of people with disabilities is in this link.

    Hope to connect and learn more from your work.

  • keleilani

    Hey Lance,

    Thanks for sharing this-I'm really inspired by the concept behind your class and the work that you are doing. I'm currently studying at UC Berkeley and am designing my thesis around narrative and storytelling and the relationship between the individual healing process and community building. I think that what you are up to has a lot of potential and am wondering if you have any commentary on how the use of storytelling has helped heal those with experiences being portrayed, or if it hasn't helped.

    • Lance Weiler

      We're working through a number of materials right now and will be sharing results in the coming months. What's the best way to contact you?

  • brucekr

    I manage the social media for the Orange County Rescue Mission ( My primary hope is to share the stories of what takes place on a daily basis inside the gates of our shelter and transitional housing facility to convey a face to the cause that donors and constituents give to. But in terms of collaboration to design these stories, it has been incredible to observe current residents or 'graduates' who have gotten back up on their feet that use social media contribute to their own stories. That is commenting, thanking donors, and sharing their own thoughts on posts and cheering one another on their successes. I think their interaction and feedback on their own stories portrays the reality of their 'characters' in the moment, in the midst of the 'fight' and 'struggle' to get back up on their feet! We are not cutting edge or extremely 'trendy,' but we love the people that come through our doors and we want others to share in the fight of their lives:

  • Trina Lambert

    fabulous + creative idea. love it! just casted my wish.

  • storytellerkp

    First of all, kudos on a job well done. I read Orange Duffle Bag in one sitting and his work is powerful and very much needed. Thank you for helping foster children, especially as they age out of the system.
    As a Storyteller (my full-time "real" job) ALL of my work involves participatory performance and presentation; the audience is always an integral part of the story.
    In 2005, I sold my home and most possessions to create/facilitate a volunteer literacy project in Belize, a country which chose me. Since that time I've donated programs for 33,340 students and 800 teachers in using their own indigenous stories within the classroom to teach a basic creative writing exercise; what would happen if you met one of the legends (creatures,spirits) face to face. It's been an incredibly meaningful experience; the students fully engage in the process because their culture is being valued, respected and heard. Many of the schools were forbidden from using their own indigenous stories, giving back culture is much needed and goes deep into self worth and a sense of identity. It relates to the foster care work; a sense of place and identity is key for all of us. How do we fit in?
    I've also done cancer research, in which the most valuable question on the study was the Only open-ended question; "please tell the story of your diagnosis." For many patients it was the first time anyone asked that question and Listened to their story.
    Another project I do is using Story to address difficult issues; the audience listens to a story with an unsatisfactory conclusion and then, in small groups the audience re-tells the ending keeping in mind compassion for both sides.
    Thank you again for the work you are doing; it is Necessary, Impactful and will make a Difference.

  • ctaylordorenkamp

    I've written a few stories, and I'm a former foster child. I'm 41 now, married and have 3 children. I have next to no contact with my biological family. I'd left it all behind, and made up everything new, new family, new culture, new country. The struggle to assimilate is lifelong. It goes way beyong culture shock, in the usual sense. Nobody realizes the effort that goes into the simplest things, in being a normal, healthy balanced 5-member household. Parental imprints are deep, execpt when they don't exist at all. The doing-things-from-scratch approach is exhausting, overwhelmig and at times humiliating. Teachers (of my childre) don't get it. Mothers-in-law are quietly consterning, patient nonetheless, yet as unaware as all the rest. My husband knows, though. Not everything, but he knows enough. He forgets sometimes and loses patience, but he reminds me every now and then that his imprints carry him, wher mine don't. My children heal my soul. I construct a plan very consciously, deliberately, how to keep a routine for them, how to keep rituals, making sure they get what they need. In caring for them, I care for me, and I heal myself. So powerful, so intense. So worth it. I have always had the wish to share this with other former foster kids. Especially the young ones, who are just beginning the transition into their adult lives.

  • Vast Shadow

    I already know how to write stories... I once wanted to be a children's author, making basic short stories of themed concepts of adventure or just self-fulfillment, but stories can be misleading and its like art... A artist can draw something, but not everyone will see their true meaning. I wouldn't want none of my writing to ever dilute or be perceived wrong. Especially for kids, kids are the future -- I wouldn't want to give some misconception.

    I had such good stories in school, stupid teachers always put me in advanced english classes. For my poetry and stories.

    Hollywood complains all the time as, movies are pretty limited to being based off marvel comics. Gaming industry is thriving for stories as well.
    The only reason that is, is because instead of Hollywood endorsing writing -- They make video game campaigns that will try to demote consoles and gaming. Its pretty stupid... As the rich idiots, do not understand... Video games are just like movies... Its media content. If they got one excluded they would initially exclude themselves.

    One company actually tries to create writers guild for gaming... White Wolf Publishing. ... They are a group of writers that write about vampires, crime drama, and some new magical elf story(like that idiotic lord of the rings / Harry Potter).

    See if Hollywood camapigned and spent money into writer guilds instead of trying to attack the media content... They would have more writers and more movie productions, but Hollywood rich dumbasses. Think stories grow on trees and haven't a clue where the come from. Well, they come from people. Disney stories, come from people... Marvel stories come from people -- Marvel has a writers guild too... DC comic sorta does, but they put more qualifications on the board.
    Video games wont ever replace movies. People like acting, its been part of eras and generations to put on a show. If there isn't no writers sure its going to be tight work... That is just common sense. CGI is good, but in all it still wouldn't ever be human initiative, even if it can look like actual real world... It wouldn't replace the celebrity conception of acting. The internet too wont ever derive hollywood... It could actually put more content out -- IF hollywood had more, but no... Their idiots that spend time scamming to make video games bad for the mind.

    Bottom line is... If you want stories and put more writers out in creating stories... Make a writers guild, rather free or paid...

  • Flowlearner

    This is a great approach and one that we apply to the process of architecture: Getting away from the stereotypical "stararchitect" image, we strive employ a more democratic and collaborative approach to design. It keeps people from feeling siloed off and alienated in the process. We always want to encourage people to discover their creativity, uncover aspects of themselves that they did not know exist and be engaged participants. The trick is to provide healthy guidance as you do need to steer the process.

    Keep up the good work!

  • gayle1224

    Lance, This is wonderful! So important towards helping us truly "Live in the Solutions" rather than exhausting our efforts managing and organizing "problems" All Good to you! Beth Easter

  • mister piecrust

    My friends at the National Storytelling Network, the country's membership association of ethnic storytellers, professional storytellers, and professionals who use story in their work (teachers and librarians, etc.) would be great resource folks to carry this conversation forward. Start at or look up Alton Chung in Vancouver, WA. Great folks, creative folks, and wide diversity!

  • philip horvath

    Love the idea. Definitely the necessary swing of the pendulum toward inclusion vs. a top down pyramid. Now, it seems important to not simply reverse the pyramid, but include both structures in a future system. While top-down is dictatorial, bottom-up is wrought with the danger of least common denominator and a groupthink like fizzling away of creativity (as in the Henry Ford quote about asking customers what they want and them asking for a faster horse). Both approaches have to be integrated, so that the inspiration and creativity of the individual does not get drowned out in the crowd.

  • martyzthebutlerb

    We've used a similar approach... primarily during MenthLab
    We partnered with Future - John Bielenberg and Greg Galle - to execute this lab. The trick is following through and extending the lab so it has real outcomes - it sounds like you are doing that. It's a powerful and necessary way to work and will become the norm. The insights/compassion/intelligence gathered are priceless.

    One of our clients is the Legacy Foundation ( if you have any interest in Tobacco related issues let us know.


    Good luck and we look forward to seeing how everything goes....

  • bill5

    Yes, and yes. Good work! You should connect with two exemplary organizations we work with. They are: 1. Pillsbury House + Theater, a settlement house legacy social service agency in Minneapolis that has paired artists and social services professionals as a way to drive community designed programs, services and art making. Also 2. Pomegranate Center, near Seattle The Center works to integrate design and art with community planning, public participation, environmental methods, hands-on learning and mentoring. Bill Cleveland, Center for the Study of Art and Community

  • pam.marino

    I sincerely hope you will turn this into a book, or some other package, so that those of us who can't take the graduate course can still learn all the principles.

    • Lance Weiler

      I open up the teaching process at - you can see the lectures, get the readings, and checkout the syllabus. The students also post to the tumblr as well. Hope that helps.

  • Lance Weiler

    @leetaylorpenn we're going to be releasing some "designing with" frameworks under a creative commons license early next year. Where are you based?

  • SPInitiative

    This is fantastic! Designing / collaborating WITH instead of FOR is exactly what we (Sustainable Preservation Initiative) try to do. SPI works with local impoverished communities (right now in Peru, but the world's the limit), to preserve their cultural heritage as economic asset. By investing in locally-created and -owned businesses (often local artisans or touristic development) whose financial success is tied to the preservation of the cultural heritage site, we aim to bring sustainable income and empowerment to the community. Thanks for the inspiration today--we're looking forward to hearing more!

  • Lee

    As a public health program director, I believe that this framework could be beneficial for staff as we develop programs for inner city residents. Do you have any practical tools to offer on how to design with, instead of for, community members?