Power of Storytelling 2018, Bucharest, Romania

Power of Storytelling 2018, Bucharest, Romania

Below is a post offered on Facebook earlier this month as a thank you to speakers and attendees at the 8th Edition of the Power of Storytelling conference in Bucharest, Romania. The note comes from Cristian Lupsa, founder of the conference and founder/editor of a creative and – in the lingering culture and broken economy of a former Eastern bloc nation –  defiant narrative magazine called Decat o Revista, or DoR. (You can read a bit about how the magazine and conference came to be here, in a 2014 piece Lupsa did for the nonprofit Images and Voices of Hope.)

In English, Decat o Revista translates, very roughly, to “just a magazine.” But it is far more than that, both in terms of its own birth and survival, and in terms of the stories it publishes. Last year, it was awarded the European Press Prize Special Award for a narrative reconstruction of a deadly fire at Colectiv, a popular nightclub in Bucharest.

The Power of Storytelling conference is unique in Eastern Europe. It draws some of the world’s top narrative journalists and other creative storytellers, who share the tools of their craft and their belief in the stories as a human imperative.

(Full disclosure: I have worked with Lupsa and his staff since the beginning of the magazine, and was a speaker at the first seven editions of the conference. I wasn’t able to attend this year, but felt the spark from afar. It’s like no other journalism conference I attend in expertise, creative reach and emotion.)

Storyboard has featured several of the conference talks from over the years, and this week we offer two from the 8th Edition. But we start with Lupsa’s thank you note, which is a mini-narrative onto itself and one that summarizes the echo between the stories we tell and the lives we live. The theme of this year’s conference was “Rewrite.” Not the kind of rewriting that fixes grammar and catches typos, but the kind that asks us to reconsider a known narrative from other perspectives and, by so doing, reconsider our assumptions about the world we share.

Cristian Lupsa

Cristian Lupsa

From Cristian Lupsa ~

Some of you have told us it’s been emotionally intense. That it’s been a roller-coaster. That together we were transported to new heights, and then we came down again, all the way into the belly of the beast. Such is the arc of a good story, and it’s how we try to design our two-day experiences at PoS. It’s a compressed journey, but a true one. Because it’s also how our lives go.

We soar, and then we fall.

We get up again, and then we stumble.

We decide on a narrative that seems to suit us, only to feel at some point that we have to rewrite it.

It’s up to you, all those who joined us, what you’ll do with the energy and ides you’ve gathered during these two days.

Maybe you’ll tell that story you’ve always wanted to tell.

Maybe you’ll start that project you’ve always dreamt about.

Maybe you’ll rise up and join the fight for a more inclusive society.

No matter what you choose to rewrite, we want to thank you all for trusting us to be a companion on your journey. As you navigate the arc of your life story, this is what we – the staff and speakers at DoR and The Power of Storytelling – aim to create: a safe place to take a breath, slow down, think, dream, learn, and find new ideas, maybe even new parts of yourself.

Have a great journey onward.

Postscript: In addition to the two conference presentations we’ll share this week, here are some top takeaways, in brief, from the speakers, who ranged from Pulitzer Prize winner Anne Hull to S-Town podcaster Brian Reed of This American Life to digital story guru Jonah Sachs to documentary filmmaker Nina Berman and more: Day One. Day Two.

The crew of DoR is already planning the 9th Edition of Power of Storytelling for October 18-19, 2019.

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