Professional Storyteller

Share a Story - Change the World

I run a very small Ning network, http://michiganstorytelling.ning.com , & just learned as of July Ning networks will no longer be free.  Go to http://about.ning.com/announcement/ to see what's coming.  There will be the option for Ning sites to charge for membership.  I've no idea if this will happen here.  The least expensive option of about $20 a year offers Blogs, Photos, Forum and Video embeds.  We could still list Events, but
only via our personal blogs for that amount. The most important thing, IMO, that level would lose, if that is the level our wonderful administrator chooses, is GROUPS!  We'd also lose Chat.  UPDATE: Just realized that level's not even an option here as we're well over the 150 member limit. To get Events, Groups, Chat, Pages and Ning Apps & UNLIMITED membership, it will cost 10 times as much, $200!
We have a window of opportunity to find any alternatives.  Suggestions?!?

Tags: Apps, Chat, Events, Groups, Members, Ning, Pages, fees

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Dear Fellow Storytellers,

I think Ning going "paid" was bound to happen. You can't offer a service without supporting it. We've been given a remarkable networking service with no advertising. I'd rather pay than look at pop ups for all sorts of things I don't need or support.

Dianne is doing a wonderful job with Professional Storyteller. I've donated $10, and will donate more in future. I'm dismayed at the tone of some of the responses on this thread. If I'd started this network, babied it, mediated, inspired and encouraged people the way Dianne has, I'd feel very hurt and discouraged.

I've done my share as a volunteer manager, and I know how darn much work it takes. The rest of the group doesn't see, for example, how many private emails the administrator(s) have to deal with on their own time. I happily handed over a 600 member Meetup.com group, because responding to members and maintaining the site was taking up to 15 unpaid hours per week!

There are many people on this site I correspond with and am tickled to know. And would never have met otherwise. I can reach out and get inspiration and advice any time I choose, from anywhere in the world. There is performance opportunity info here I never would have found elsewhere. I've touched base with people from my past.

I think it's fine to express frustration with a "faceless corporation" like Ning charging. But some of the tone I'm gleaning here is disloyal to what Dianne and Rebecca have nurtured. Dianne says she will pay the $500 bill, whether or not we contribute. She is doing so for the good of this network.

What would it cost to make ONE connection, with ONE person who is a storyteller from another region? In Vancouver BC, we have one storytelling festival per year. I'd pay $20-50 to attend the event. Ask the teller for coffee. Hope they're interested. They'd have to be really interested to go for coffee, with so many people clamoring for their attention. Spend minimum $8 for our coffee and muffins. Pay $8 for 2 hours at a parking meter. Spend $5-10 in gas. And perhaps discover we have little in common, after all :-(

The connections and friendships I've gained on Professional Storyteller are worth so much more than the $10 we're being asked to donate.

I've made connections here that have in turn, joined my LinkdIn profile, leading to even more worthwhile connections.

Re: Whether it's "worth it" when discussions are inactive. Have you browsed the member list/special interest groups and contacted people who interest you? Have you offered help to people looking for story or performance specifics? Have you asked for help from those who are doing what you want to do? Have you asked for feedback on your material? Do you read other members' websites/watch their vids/look at their pics, and comment on them?

I have an absolute wealth of connections here. Most of the discussions don't happen on the site. I edited some of my early discussion posts, as they were too personal to be displayed on the Internet. The discussions continue in private, deepening friendships.

There are all kinds of private communications and rare gifts zinging back and forth that originate on this site! We've become too accustomed to people over-sharing on the Net. Please don't mistake this for lack of participation in Professional Storyteller. Storytellers are "homey" folks. It's all about real connections.

I've received mentoring via PS connections that would have cost me hundreds in consultation fees otherwise. I'm deeply appreciative of this resource.

How about My Page? Anyone who's interested in me as a storyteller can see right up front what I do and what I care about. Here's where I get to be a total Artist. Because my main income right now is teaching voice lessons, I don't have that freedom on my website. I can only be "a little bit" flaky. I don't get to post a zillion pics of rescued animals, personal connections, etc.

Clare, I love your response. Yes, this is a community centre for storytellers!

I belong to my local community centre. What if I choose not to go to the pool or weight room for a week or two? Or choose not to ask the staff and other members for help with my routine? Should the centre be torn down?

Of course not. It's up to me to create my own level of participation, and support others' participation.

There are wonderful people on here who are either beginner tellers, not Net-savvy, or are too low on finances to build and maintain a website. Some people only have access to the Net through their library, on a very limited basis. This site serves AS their website. They're part of our community. I care about them, too!

The PS site is unique and precious. I think we are lucky to have what Dianne has created and maintained. I feel gratitude every time I visit.

Say, "Thank you," and ante up, storytellers!

Your friend in storytelling,
Reisa
Reisa,
Since I started this discussion & have said the most here, I'm at a loss about how you feel "dismayed at the tone of some of the responses on this thread." I, too, am very grateful to Dianne for all she has done by starting PS. I've also known her from before she started this network & support her in more than just PS.

If it took from May 4 until July 3 to hear from her, it came after sending her a direct message here, as well as starting this discussion, precisely because I know she's very busy with her storytelling, does try to have a personal life, &, as a result, hired Rebecca B. My worry was the news about this transition might not be reaching her. Knowing Dianne, I shouldn't have thought she wouldn't know about something personally representing her. Still the delay held the possibility she wasn't informed about the change. I know Dianne, but not Rebecca.

Yes, I, too, do what you mention, not only here, but on the international email list, STORYTELL, on another Ning site called "Puppet Hub", & even emulated Dianne in creating & administering a social network called Michigan Storytelling. (Both here & on Puppet Hub I administer or co-admin. active groups.) If I've sounded more personally involved, it's because that state social network was on the brink of success in its own small way when Ning made its decision. At this stage in a beginning network's development & our own state's economic situation, I can't see subsidizing it with more than my time & doubt its membership was at a point to make sufficient donations. Yes, in my own smaller way there, I've seen things like "private emails the administrator(s) have to deal with" & what's involved in establishing it while it takes me away from my own work & personal life, too.

I chose SocialGo as my alternative to Ning. That wasn't meant as criticism of Dianne, just statement of an option not too different from what we have here. Yes, Ning is better, but the needs of this network are on a different scale. Offlist I've also shared with Dianne some of the ways Puppet Hub is handling this transition. Puppet Hub has some interesting ideas on their network to support it. It's not negative to consider options.

Yes, certainly too private personal responses shouldn't be posted on a public network. Those personal emails also encourage networking. We both do that. Still, responses on Forums & in Groups actually should be as active as possible both to give people a reason to be here so PS can be the mentoring you mention & also for the internet visibility this site so richly provides for us. That visible activity is a form of success, generating even more participation here.

In contrast, the little network I mentioned has been slow to develop in exactly those very ways. It will take time & people who understand all a network like this can offer. You may wonder why I didn't set it up as a Group here. The available population of people interested in storytelling in our state, both as tellers & listeners, has a high proportion of people resistant to the idea of being a "Professional Storyteller." Yes, we would welcome them here, but way too many I've suggested try PS gave that response. Let's face it, many feel the internet already takes too much of their time to add much to what they're already do. In the meantime, we have needs in our state, a social network is our current best option, & it just needs exactly that level of active participation I was mentioning.

Yes, PS is unique and precious; we are lucky Diane has created and maintained it; anteing up is indeed needed. One fault in my discussion here was getting the incorrect dollar amount needed to maintain this site. $500 is much steeper than $200 and either amount deserves member support.

This is an open discussion trying to cope with a transition. I'm sorry, Reisa, if you are "dismayed at the tone of some of the responses on this thread." Most definitely I hope Dianne isn't hurt by the discussion here. Disloyalty was not intended by me. I also doubt it was in the minds of the others responding.
Dear LoiS and Reisa:

I am definitely NOT hurt by the discussions going on about Professional Storyteller. On the contrary, I am glad that you feel PS is worthy of discussion. It shows that you care. The bottom line is this. I am going to keep PS open for now. Hopefully, people will donate (I've received $70 so far) but if not, I will cover the remainder.

Reisa, I appreciate all your efforts in sending messages out to as many people as you can. It has certainly helped! I've received donations from as far as Canada and Australia!

I also apologize for my tardy reply on this matter. My life is EXTREMELY hectic - I am always on the road touring (I was in Asia for the entire month of May). I have stayed abreast of the matter and even toyed with the idea of having NSN take over. Indeed, I was in discussion with the board. I didn't want to report anything until something firm was decided.

What I decided was that I needed to keep Professional Storyteller open myself and not have it run by a nonprofit organization. It grows itself and has been a thriving community for storytellers around the world, not just the United States. NSN was primarily concerned with nurturing their membership here, not abroad.

Maintaining PS is a busy job, especially for one person. That's why I asked Rebecca to take over some of the administrative functions such as member approval. What I am going to do now is ask for volunteer administrators to help police the site, approve members, and keep the site active.

Thank you both so much for caring enough about the storytelling community to engage in healthy discussion. Professional Storyteller is not about me - it's about the community of storytellers who make it the vibrant site it is.

Warmly,
Dianne de Las Casas
Founder of Professional Storyteller
It was good of NSN to consider it, but I agree, Dianne, this is becoming a very international resource, so let's work to keep it adapting to that wide variety of opportunity. (It seems to be currently the fastest growing & most active PS segment.)

As for delays, it's great you're so busy even if it means sharing some of your work here. You've long advocated adapting parts of your business so others can help. Your idea of volunteer duties here will both make this site of greater value to its members & add "sweat equity" possibilities. Count me in.

Yes, we care about this community. We're a family of storytellers &, like all families, should be able to talk w/o hurting feelings.
LoiS and Reisa:

I would love to give you administrator access to the site, to help with member approvals. Are you willing to do this? You review a person's page and see if they are related in any way to oral storytelling. If the page does not reveal their connection, send a message asking how they are engaged in oral storytelling. If they don't reply in 72 hours, deny the request. There are a fair amount of spammers, bots, and salespeople that try to invade the site. I try to police it so that they are weeded out.

When a teller is approved, a welcome message is placed on their page, in the comments section. It's very easy.

If you can handle that, then you can be an administrator!

Warmly,
Dianne
Definitely. Diane, when you mentioned members doing more for the site I thought it was a GREAT idea for a variety of reasons. Having my own way smaller network on storytelling in Michigan I know what you mean as it happens. At the same time new members need that welcome.
Hi Dianne,

You'd like us to be storytelling, er, cops? :-D

Sure, I think I can do that---with LoiS' help.

Question: how do we know which one of us should respond to the applicant? Will both of us receive their request?

Thanks.
Hey Reisa,
Does that mean we get to play Good Cop/Bad Cop?

I'm presuming there's a way we can divide these & also will do whatever you want, Dianne, on the responses. Figure it's fairly standardized. I know on my old Ning network as Admin you just click & remove somebody obviously not fitting the network. On those who are borderline, you let them know what this site is about & that we welcome those matching oral storytelling, but will keep the site to those fitting the network's purpose.
That's great, Diane. As always, my friend, you are a consummate professional.

Long live PS!
Hey Reisa, Dianne and Lois

This is a great and ranging debate going on here, lovely to see all the opinions voiced.

Dianne I am glad to hear it is staying open. I made a donation and then went to Festival at the Edge (UK storytelling festival) and told everyone there to check out the site.

I am glad NSN is not taking it over, because as you say NSN is a US focused non profit, and that could change the focus of this site. I will continue to use PS as a networking tool for storytelling, to build community and to share skills and knowledge.

Thanks for the good work, and I will meet you out on the road somewhere.

Beannacht
Clare

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