Storyteller

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Elaine Wynne transforms her world

As a child, Elaine Wynne was always fascinated with stories: hearing them, reading them and telling them. She never expected that one day she would be crafting and telling stories as a professional.

Blame it on her kids. When Wynne’s children were young, she was struck by the difference between telling a story and reading one. Telling the story allowed her to shape it, to make it unique and special to her young audience. It wasn’t until after the kids left home, though, that she returned to school and began studying the art.

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At Metro State University, Wynne fashioned a program of storytelling performance and marketing. She coupled the unlikely pair as a way to promote “image development” for nonprofits. Her previous nonprofit experience showed her that “some [nonprofits] were [doing] good, but [were] not good at telling their story.”

Her friends pushed her to perform her stories and began requesting her performances at church and community events along with private parties. “I used to be a lot more introverted and it was a challenge to extend myself … but I loved the process of storytelling.”

Today, Wynne’s “day job” is helping people heal as a psychologist in private practice, but she also works around the Twin Cities teaching storytelling and performing with her partner. One project, a collaboration with public libraries, involves bringing children and their grandparents together to develop oral histories through video. Wynne thinks this work is “important because families are so separated in the modern culture … it’s a way of bridging modern technology to the need of community and family.”

Teaching storytelling for parents along with training activists and leaders how to effectively tell their story to the world is one way Wynne has provided an environment where stories are used to transform the world. She wants to “awaken the storyteller in other people, not only to their story, but that they can tell their own story.”

She tells the tales of traditional stories, folktales, myths and legends, along with literary stories and personal experience. “Examining stories from around the world shows us how we share the same stories in different cultural forms,” Wynne said.

While Wynne has many favorite stories, she said they often have a common thread. “I like stories where there is an empowering theme, where someone finds help from someone or inside themselves to find the strength to do something they didn’t know they could do before.”

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