By Sarah Cates, Pathway 5 Catalyst and Vice President for Imagination, Strategic Initiatives and Partnerships
Storytelling is about creating shared experiences that first connect us to one another and then to the world. Stories set a foundation for culture and identity, bringing people together in new ways that spur inspiration and action. As we consider social problems that require massive effort to address, we still start with reaching one other person.
I’ve found that the power of storytelling is in its ability to show us a new perspective. Each of us is a born storyteller. It begins with the simple idea that we each have something to share with at least one other person and recognizing that our audience has an audience. This can inspire change and lead to transformation. This begins with knowing the felt needs of our audience.
The overarching theme of this transformation through storytelling is Purpose & Belonging — because that’s what most people are in search of: who they are, and where they can find community. As we connect with others and share our stories (individual and collective), our audience needs to understand the cause that we’re after and the lives that we want to change — AND, also their role in the process as listeners and sharers of these stories that shape us.
Rick Rekedal, CEO of StoryCrate, Former Chief Creative Global Franchises: Dreamworks Animation and current Senior Fellow for Storytelling at Belmont has been instrumental in furthering our institution’s storytelling focus over the last year. He has helped our campus community understand what it means to be a storyteller, as getting to the heart of who we are is fundamental when beginning to tell any story.
We have learned that the clearer we are about what we stand for, the freer we are to stand on it. We have identified our WHY—the foundation on which we stand. Getting to the heart of what we’re all about is fundamental when we begin to tell our stories.
We’ve also learned that good storytellers know the importance of a good question. For this reason, as a Belmont community, we are leaning into good questioning and asking ourselves: What is our core story? What anchors our work? I am confident that the application of our WHY to our work helps us put our inspiring stories of truth, beauty and goodness into action and carry them forward in meaningful ways. Each of us are touched by the many stories we interact with every day—it’s our joy, and responsibility, to then share those stories with the world to hopefully lead to transformative change.
With this in mind, we are excited to host the second annual Hope Summit at Belmont University—a three-day event scheduled for October 2-4, focused on convening Agents of Hope from a variety of industries who are actively working toward making change in the world and seeking human flourishing for all.
This year’s event will also highlight the art of storytelling—from the power of the craft to the way leaders can creatively leverage this tool to make an impact in their fields — using the stories that we share to impact individuals, making them part of a larger community.
More information on the schedule of events will be shared soon. Visit president.belmont.edu/hope-summit for more information as it becomes available.
We are excited to create, innovate, build and dream alongside you as we together use storytelling to impact the world in meaningful ways.
Photo caption: An imaginative conversation around creativity and storytelling featuring: Rick Rekedal, Former Chief Creative for DreamWorks Animation & CEO of StoryCrate and Tom Douglas, Hall of Fame Songwriter during the Hope Summit at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, October 24, 2022. Photo by Sam Simpkins.