By Molly Flodder—
MUNCIE, IN—In 2012, a Muncie woman who had shared a story about living in poverty sat in a darkened auditorium hearing the story written about her being read. Although she was very familiar with the story, she realized how the storyteller had captured her emotion, frustration and desperation in a way that was mesmerizing members of the audience who were listening. They were facing her poverty as she faced it every day and as the storyteller had to face it to share it. It was helping volunteers in the room who had worked with people living in poverty add to their understanding of the problem, the need, and possible strategies to address issues.
That event and the collection of printed stories in a book, Facing Poverty became “The Facing Project” because of two Muncie volunteers who had conceived the power of this storytelling model.
Fast forward to 2022 and the fourteenth Facing story collection is being unveiled locally with nearly 1,000 projects in 18 states having ensued over the decade.
“Facing Aging: Life After 60: The Golden Years?” will be unveiled this Saturday, November 12, at 2 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall at First Baptist Church of Muncie, 309 E. Adams, with books available for purchase. There is no charge for attending to hear a few of the 16 stories, and refreshments will be served. LifeStream Services is the signature sponsor for the event with additional support coming from Open Door Health Services
The program founders Kelsey Timmerman and J.R. Jamison, both published authors and Delaware County residents, will be on hand. Since the founding of the project, nearly 100 community-based Facing Projects have been organized in nearly 18 U. S. States.
According to Kelsey Timmerman, the Facing Project creates a more understanding and empathetic world through stories that inspire action. J.R. Jamison agrees and adds, “We bring people and communities together through acts of empathy that include listening, storytelling, and connecting across differences with the belief that stories are the most powerful tool for change.’
Locally the current storytelling project is among other Muncie-area collections of stories ranging from Facing Disabilities and Facing Cancer to Facing Autism and Facing Depression.
Timmerman and Jamison bring their storytelling gifts to National Public Radio in a monthly episode of The Facing Project, sitting down with national experts to explore Facing themes. The Facing Project has been able to collaborate with a wide-array of individuals and perspectives including black/brown communities, all socioeconomic statuses, age ranges, and gender identities.
In addition to unveiling several stories that appear in the latest book, there will be a short panel discussion on issues of aging. Copies of this most recent book “Facing Aging: Life After 60—The Golden Years?” will be available at the November 12 event for $10 or online wherever books are sold.
Molly Flodder is the local steering committee chair for this project. A retired non-profit executive of TEAMwork for Quality Living, she now volunteers in the community.