RPM Executive Director, Rebecca Glotfelty attended the 2019 Northland's Storytelling Confabulation held in Madison, Wisconsin. The conference was three days of workshops and presentations by professional storytellers from across the Midwest. This wonderful experience was made possible by a grant from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the Copper Country Community Arts Council. Thank you! Pictured below are scenes from the 2019 Confabulation. With featured storyteller, Tim Lowry of South Carolina in bottom right corner.
Last Saturday Real People Media produced the 11th and 12th episode of the Red Jacket Jamboree at the Calumet Theatre in Calumet, Michigan. The Red Jacket Jamboree is a New old-time radio variety show sharing stories, songs, history and music from Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula. Episode 11 celebrated summer the county fair/carnival while episode #12 remembered Armistice 1918. As the director, I wasn't sure how a remembrance of WWI would go over with the audience. It turned out to be a moving episode with pianist Bill Carrothers sharing selections from his CD Armistice 1918 with vocals by Peg Carrothers, music by Younce Guitar Duo and The Copper Cats, reflections by host Lena Dorey and poetry by Martin Achatz. Of course we did include a humorous 911 in the 906 sketch with Red Jacket Radio Actors Ralph Horvath and Little Girl.
We thank the audience for coming to the performance and for helping to record this very special show.
Below is Marty Achatz blog entry about The Red Jacket Jamboree's Armistice Show.
July 29: A Little Story, Armistice 1918, a Hero, "In Memoriam"
I just returned from a little sojourn in Calumet, Michigan, where I performed in The Red Jacket Jamboree at the Calumet Theatre. It was a wonderful weekend, working with a lot of musicians and artists and actors who have become really good friends of mine.
Usually, on Sundays, I include a Classic Saint Marty post. Today, I'm not going to do that. Instead, I want to tell you a little story . . .
One of the shows we did last night in Calumet was a commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the 1918 Armistice that ended World War I. I found the entire experience profoundly moving. There was music from the era. News from the era. I did a tribute to Wilfred Owen, one of the greatest poets of the war. Read one of Owen's poems. And I read a poem of my own that I wrote on Memorial Day many years ago.
At the end of the performance, I was a bundle of emotions. As I was standing near the stage, speaking with my family afterward, a man approached me.
He was probably in his late sixties, large and bearded. He was wearing a leather vest that you might see on motorcyclists. On the vest, patches were sewn. Some were military patches, identifying the man as a Vietnam War veteran. He was obviously struggling to control his emotions, but I could tell he was close to tears. His face was red, and his eyes were wet.
We looked at each other for a few moments, and then I said, "Thank you for your service."
He nodded and said, "I want to thank you for that poem." He stopped, started crying, then regained control of himself again. He pointed to a patch on his vest. "I lost a lot of buddies over there . . . and . . . I just want . . . to thank you for that poem." And he started crying again.
I nodded. Put my hand on his shoulder. He continued to cry. Then, I reached out and hugged him.
After a few moments, he took a deep breath and stepped back from me. "You don't know how much that meant," he said.
I looked him in the eyes, and I said, "Thank you for coming tonight."
He nodded, turned, and walked up the aisle.
So, tonight, I'm feeling incredibly humbled by my encounter with that gentleman.
Saint Marty is thankful he met a real hero last night.
Real People Media has received a grant from the Michigan Humanities Council to bring storytellers, Bill Jamerson and Pete Griffin to Calumet, Michigan.
Bill Jamerson, of Escanaba, will present stories and songs from the U.P. during the August 17th performance of The Red Jacket Jamboree, a new old-time radio variety show performed and recorded in front of a live audience at the historic Calumet Theatre. More information about the show is available at www.redjacketjamboree.org. On August 18th, Bill will present a free family concert as part of the Pasty Fest celebration. Families are invited to bring their chairs and blankets to the concert, which will be held on the south side of the Keweenaw National Historical Park visitor center, located on 5th street.
For over a decade, Jamerson has been sharing stories about America's past with his “History through Song” programs and school assemblies in a 12-state region across the Upper Midwest. He developed a love of history at an early age inspired by his grandfather's stories about life in the lumberjack camps and living through The Great Depression.
Jamerson attended the University of Michigan and was in the advertising business for 15 years when he decided to change direction in his career. In 1992 he wrote and produced his first major documentary for Michigan Public Television, Camp Forgotten - The Civilian Conservation Corps in Michigan, which aired on 58 PBS stations nationwide. He went on to produce ten other films on Michigan history including Grand Rapids furniture making, Mexican Farmworkers, General Motors, Herbert Dow the chemical pioneer and a history of winter sports in Michigan.
In 2002 Jamerson began presenting live programs about the Civilian Conservation Corps, lumberjack and iron mining history in schools, libraries and other venues. His programs included original songs played with his guitar. Most of the songs are based on stories collected from people with first-hand knowledge. Today, Jamerson presents his live programs across the Upper Midwest at a wide variety of venues.
Jamerson's presentation has been described as a cross between Woody Guthrie and Garrison Keillor. It's the oral tradition of sharing cultural and ethnic traditions with humor, storytelling, and song. The telling of these stories is more than preserving the past; they are a reminder of who we are, and how we got to where we are. And in this way, the stories are as important as they are entertaining. More information about Bill can be found at: www.billjamerson.com
Pete Griffin, known as the storyteller Ranger, will share some “spooky” Yooper tales during the October 4th performance of The Red Jacket Jamboree. Griffin will also lead a storytelling workshop on October 5th and 6th for local historians, KNHP park staff, and heritage site interpreters.
Pete, a native of Cedarville, started his career with the US Forest Service in 1973 as a wildlife biologist. When he was promoted to District Ranger on the Tongass National Forest in Juneau, Alaska in 1999, he started recording short natural history vignettes for radio. Titled, Tongass Trails, the essays documented his exploration of the temperate rainforest and eventually incorporated Pete's experiences growing up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
The series, which ran for five years, received numerous public accolades. Pete later narrated Shades of Green, a Forest Service production of video stories about life and land of the Tongass as told by the people who live and work there. Following his retirement from the Forest Service, he has shared his stories aboard the Disney Wonder, a 2600-passenger cruise ship, along the Inside Passage of Southeast Alaska . He performs for hundreds of passengers at a time, featuring unique aspects of some common and not-so-common species of plants and wildlife of Southeast Alaska. For more information about Pete visit: www.thestorytellingranger.com.
Real People Media is a 501c3 nonprofit organization helping people share their stories through the literary, visual, performing and media arts. More information about Real People Media can be found at the website at www.realpeoplemedia.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Main Street Calumet has been awarded a $19,500 grant from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs toward the 2017/2018 season of The Red Jacket Jamboree. The Red Jacket Jamboree, an old-time radio variety show, features stories and songs celebrating the history, culture and landscape of the Keweenaw Peninsula. The programs will be recorded in front of a live audience at the historic Calumet Theatre for future radio broadcast. The first show, which celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Keweenaw National Historical Park, will be October 14 and 15 and feature alternative folk artist Sean Rowe of New York.
The Red Jacket Jamboree is a collaborative effort between two nonprofit organizations, Main Street Calumet and Real People Media. Main Street Calumet was founded in 2003 with the mission to guide the revitalization of Calumet's historic downtown into an exciting and vibrant district that is attractive to residents and visitors. The district lies within the boundaries of the Keweenaw National Historical Park and Main Street Calumet works to express the local copper mining heritage through preservation, education, and cultural events such as The Red Jacket Jamboree. Leah Polzien, Executive Director of Main Street Calumet says “The Red Jacket Jamboree helps to fulfill this mission, celebrate the community's local history and culture, and stimulates the local economy through tourism.”
Main Street Calumet has partnered with Real People Media, a nonprofit with the mission to help people share their stories through literary, visual, performing and media arts. “By combining our skills and resources, we're able to bring a unique experience to Keweenaw residents and visitors,” adds Polzien.
The Red Jacket Jamboree evolved out of the show's precursor, The Red Metal Radio Show, which was produced by Main Street Calumet from 2009-2013. The series, written and directed by Oren Tikkanen and other community members, brought historical events to life including the 1913/1914 miners' strike. For the October 14 and 15th performance, The Red Jacket Jamboree will resume this historical narrative in 1915 but the show will segue into contemporary stories and songs from the Copper Country. The show's featured storyteller will be singer-songwriter and naturalist Sean Rowe. Rowe shares his love of family and the natural world through his deep baritone voice which has garnered him national attention. Sean will share the stage with host Lena Dorey, the Red Jacket Jamboree Band and Actors and community guests.
The Red Jacket Jamboree would not be possible without this grant from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, says Rebecca Glotfelty, Executive Director of Real People Media. “We are deeply grateful for the grant and to the people of Michigan who support cultural events in our community. The arts add to the quality of life for our residents and to the visitor experience. We welcome the opportunity to share the stories of our community with the people of Michigan and beyond.”
The Red Jacket Jamboree will be scheduled to coincide with other community events, such as the Copper Dog 150 and Pasty Fest to encourage visitors to extend their stay to the Copper Country. The MCACA grant only funds a portion of the cost of the series. The organization will also seek sponsors to underwrite the program. For those wishing to become involved, purchase tickets or to sponsor, please visit www.redjacketjamboree.org.
Reserve your seats now for Sunday's Voice Box Session (July 16) with Jetty Rae. A native of Charlevoix, Jetty Rae is a singer- songwriter known for her powerful and melodic voice that’s just right for bluesy folk rock. Taking moving and meaningful lyrics and adding equal parts soul and indie rock carries her audience to a depth that few artists can. You can also hear Jetty’s music in a number of TV commercials for brands such as Microsoft, Petco, Ben & Jerry’s, and more. Reserve your seats by calling or texting 231.838.6460. Seating is limited and we can not guarantee seats for those who have not made reservations. Voice Box Sessions are held at Cycling Salamander Gallery at 2217 US31 South, Charlevoix, MI (7 miles south of Charlevoix) Doors open at 6:30, concert from 7-8pm and open mic from 8-9pm. Open mic participants should arrive 15 minutes early to sign up for the 5 open mic slots.
Singer-songwriter Jenny Thomas will be the featured performer for the season opener of the Voice Box Sessions on July 2. Established by Real People Media in 2013, the Voice Box Sessions features emerging and established singer-songwriters and musicians in a warm and supportive venue. Each session is recorded and shared on www.realpeoplemedia.org.
RPM welcomes back, Jenny Thomas, a Voice Box Sessions favorite. Jenny will delight you with her homespun voice, natural style, and heartfelt “slices of life” lyrics. Her personal songwriting style makes listeners grin and sometimes even cry. Jenny grew up in Elk Rapids and currently lives and performs in Traverse City at venues such as the Acoustic Tap Room, Shine Cafe, Left Foot Charlie and Taproot. Will Thomas, Jenny’s son, will accompany her on percussion.
Voice Box Sessions are open to the public by donation. Following the featured performer, RPM opens the mic to singer-songwriters, musicians, poets and performance artists. The audience is invited to come early on July 2nd to enjoy the opening reception of “Once Upon a Time,” an exhibit of paintings which share a story. The meet-the-artist reception is from 5:30pm-7pm, the concert begins at 7:00pm. Open Mic from 8:00-9:00pm.
Voice Box Sessions are held at the Cycling Salamander Gallery 7 miles south of Charlevoix on U.S. 31. The Summer schedule includes: Jenny Thomas, July 2; Kevin Johnson, July 9; Jetty Rae, July 16; Sean Miller, July 23; Lena Dorey, July 30; and Dwain Martin, August 13.
Some stories are hard to tell. Some stories are equally hard to hear, but they need to be shared. How does one begin to share a difficult story of abuse, neglect or the horrors and atrocities of war? It is well documented that people shut down or turn away when stories are too overwhelming. So how do you reach people when they don't want to listen or when words are too much?
Jeanne Hewell-Chambers, the founder of the 70,273 project shares a horrible story in a creative way. Her approach enticed me to learn about more about a difficult subject. I'll share how I learned about the project.
May is mental health awareness month and I recently attended a forum on Mental Health Awareness at the Traverse City governmental building (see earlier blog post). From across the room I spotted an artistic quilt display featuring bright red xx's on a white background with the caption, ""70,273 Project." Intrigued, I made my way to that information table. What I quickly learned was 70,273 was the number of "disabled" persons who were murdered by the Nazi's between 1940 and 1941. Doctors, working for the Nazis, were asked to read case studies about people with disabilities. They were asked to judge whether this person was an asset or detriment to society. Each case was read by three doctors. If two doctors put an X next to the person's file, this meant they were deemed not productive to society and were rounded up and murdered.
Jeanne Hewell-Chambers: writer, stitcher, and storyteller learned of this horrible crime while viewing the film Auschwitz: The Nazis and 'The Final Solution. She decided to share this story by creating Project 70,273. She is collecting a quilt block for each disabled person murdered by the Nazis between 1940-1941. Not only does it share this story in a way that can be heard, it also serves as a loving memorial to those who were murdered.
To learn more about this project and how you can participate, visit the facebook page or website at thebarefootheart.com. And yes please share this story!
May is National Mental Health month and last night I attended a free mental health educational forum called "In Our Own Voices" presented by the Traverse City Human Rights Commission. The evening included the showing of the film “Embracing the Paradox” by Steve Morris followed by people with varied mental health issues sharing their personal stories. Susan Odgers, board member of both the Traverse City Human Rights Commission and Real People Media, facilitated the event. Susan, who has used a wheelchair for the past 41 years, also writes a monthly column about people living with disabilities for the Traverse City Record Eagle. Below is May's article.
Every one of us loves someone living with a mental illness
BY SUSAN ODGERS Local columnist
At the age of three, standing in the hallway outside of her bedroom, I remember hearing my great-grandmother, a tall, big-boned Appalachian woman, moaning from her bed, “Harv, please, another pill.”
My great-grandpa, Harvey, began his childhood working in the Kentucky coal mines. By the time I was born, he owned hundreds of acres of farmland and numerous downstate apartment rentals. In our family, no one worked harder nor was wiser than Harvey. Confused, I asked my mother why grandpa wouldn't help great-grandma. In a whispered voice weighted with shame, my mother said “Great-grandma Mina is having one of her spells. Grandpa isn't supposed to give her any more medicine.”
Much later I'd realize that Grandma Mina's suffering was due to a mental illness. It was also one of the few challenges my great-grandfather felt ill-equipped to meet.
I often think of my relatives, where I came from and our particular psychology. I believe that's part of the reason I became a teacher, writer, activist and therapist. The wedding ring I've worn for 35 years was also worn by five generations of women in my mother's family. I'm a part of that circle around my finger; their history is my history.
Jack, my firstborn nephew, was the eldest of four siblings. A sweet, tall blond haired young man, he was a thinker with an eagerness to please. Nearly 20 years ago, as a 17-year-old senior, Jack committed suicide. In a short period of time, several students at his high school also committed suicide; earning it the nickname "Suicide High."
From his younger siblings to his grandparents, I never saw my family in more pain. Jack's death changed us all.
Every one of us loves someone living with a mental illness — military veterans with PTSD, college students with eating disorders and anxiety, older adults with depression, various addictions, schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder, children with learning issues and spouses with suicidal ideation. These illnesses impact thinking, mood and behavior. They also can be treated.
Just the other day, my friend, Satya, a family practice resident, was telling me that many physicians know beyond any doubt, that a patient's mental and physical health must be addressed together. To do otherwise is to not treat the whole person.
We live in a region with a former state mental institution, yet many of us know little about our neighbors who lived there. Currently, we worry that people with mental illness are violent, criminal and dangerous. However, according to the American Psychological Association, research doesn't bear this out. By far, the majority of people with mental illness are more likely to be the victims of crime, not the perpetrators. Funding parity for mental health and physical health programs has yet to be achieved. There's much more that we all need to know about mental illness.
Susan Odgers is a 30-year resident of Traverse City and has been using a wheelchair for 41 years. She is a faculty member of Northwestern Michigan College and Grand Valley State University. She can be reached by contacting the Record-Eagle.
How can storytelling help us to better communicate? That is a question which we are constantly asking ourselves at Real People Media. A good storyteller succeeds when he/she captures our attention and entices us to really listen. Good storytelling enables us to empathize with the characters and their struggles, fears and dreams.
Below is a video project which I refer to as a digital dialogue between Americans and Palestinians. For me it was an experiment in storytelling. Normally we think that a really meaningful dialogue between people would happen face to face, but I believe this dialogue is successful because it happened over time and distance. Sometimes when people are upset or very emotional, have conflicting views, etc. it can be difficult for them to really listen to each other. This project enabled Palestinians to discover American view points in a nonthreatening environment (their university) It allowed Americans to safely express their views without judgement. Americans from different backgrounds and view points participated. Students and staff at An Najah University in Nablus, Palestine were able to read the American comments (in English and Arabic) and then respond. I hope you'll take time to watch this 20-minute video and share it with others. We welcome your comments! Perhaps you would like to start your own project? We would be happy to help you!.
Real People Media is excited to bring back our singer/songwriter performance series called the Voice Box Sessions. First established in 2013, the Voice Box Sessions allows emerging And established singer/songwriters and musicians to perform in a warm and supportive venue. The series is professionally recorded and presented on our youtube channel. The program assists performers by creating professional content which they can use to promote themselves to music venues and festivals. Following the one-hour performance by our featured performer, RPM opens the stage to poets, storytellers, singer/songwriters and musicians. Voice Box Sessions are open to the public by donation. Voice Box Sessions will be held at the Cycling Salamander Gallery located 7 miles south of Charlevoix on U.S. 31 South. 2017 Voice Box Session Dates are: July 2, July 16, July 30, and August 13.
We invite performers of all ages to fill out a performer application under Programs, Voice Box Sessions. Open mic participants need not fill out an application but they should come 15 minutes early to sign up for the open mic.
For those of you who love to make music but are not interested in performing, you can come join our summer jam sessions at the Cycling Salamander on Tuesday nights from 7-9pm. Jams begin on June 20!
Real People Media provides services to people in northern Lower Michigan and the U.P. We are headquartered in Charlevoix and in Calumet.