Hurricane Stories: One Year Later

Project Partner:
Your Real Stories, Inc.
Contract Period:
July 2018 – July 2019
Amount Awarded:
$5,000
Region Served:
Region 3 - West Central Florida

In October 2018, Your Real Stories, Inc. hosted the 5th annual Story Days Festival, a week-long event that showcases the transformative power of storytelling by telling the stories of those who live in our local community using traditional storytelling, dance, music, poetry, visual arts, and theatre. In late 2017, Your Real Stories held Hurricane Irma Stories shortly after Irma hit Florida. It was an opportunity for members of the local community to share their stories of challenges, triumphs, fears, and strength. As a follow-up to last year’s program and with the assistance of a $5,000 Community Project Grant from Florida Humanities, Your Real Stories, Inc. hosted Hurricane Stories: One Year Later, featuring the stories of those not only affected by Hurricane Irma, but those who now call the Tampa Bay area home after being displaced following Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

To complete the project, Your Real Stories interviewed storytellers, documented the interviews, and created short scripts based on the interviews. These scripts were then provided to professional actors who worked with the Artistic Director to present the stories. Your Real Stories also collected stories in real time at the event by asking attendees to respond to prompts upon their arrival. Scripts were also created from these stories for the actors to portray. Once all of the stories were been told, the co-founders facilitated a conversation with the audience about the subject matter.

The ultimate goal was to provide a safe space for people to talk across real and perceived differences. This model is intended to put audience members at ease from the start, which gives them permission to then share their own ideas and perspectives. Attendees left the programming having learned something from a neighbor they didn’t know when they arrived and knowing that their own perspectives are valued and validated. This helped create a cycle of goodwill and understanding and an initial step in powerful, positive change in the community.

Your Real Stories, Inc. Logo

Partner Spotlight

Partner: Your Real Stories (Saint Petersburg, FL)

Project Director: Jaye Sheldon

About the Partner Organization: The mission of Your Real Stories (YRS) is to create space for people to experience the compelling authentic stories of real people and to find the common threads that tie us together as human beings. Co-Founders Lillian Dunlap, Ph.D. and Jaye Sheldon, M.Mus., created YRS because they saw a deficit in opportunities for civil discourse among diverse groups of people across not only real difference, but also across perceived difference.

“This was the first time we have received a grant from the Florida Humanities. The application process was very smooth, [and while]… we had a number of questions throughout the process, and the staff was very helpful in answering them!”

— Project Director

“This was the first time we have received a grant from the Florida Humanities. The application process was very smooth, [and while]… we had a number of questions throughout the process, and the staff was very helpful in answering them!”

— Project Director