I know, it’s still September, but I wanted to break the silence for just a bit and tell you about the fun we had at the STORY Conference in Chicago last week. I’m going to do it by showing you one of my favorite photos from the event.
This one was taken on the second morning of STORY. (I love the second morning for some reason.) I had talked Serenity into volunteering with me on the Greeters Team – a great gig which basically involves free t-shirts and lots of smiling. When asked why I volunteer at an event I paid to attend, I always answer in basically the same way, “I’m the type of person who needs to know where things are and how things work so I can help people when they need it. I might as well do it in an official capacity.” Seren was glad I made her do it, especially after one morning session when our team leader, Luke, called her over to stand beside him just in time for Sean Astin to brush past her elbow. Like I said, it’s a good gig.
Beside me in the photo is Sarah Cunningham. She is the girl in the know for all things STORY and she is a dream to work with. If you have interest in joining the team at all, drop her a line at sarah[at]storychicago[dot]com. This is one of the best parts of STORY: the relationships. Sometimes it seems like we look forward to the lunches with new friends (thanks John, Guy, and Joy!) or unexpected conversations in the hallways (can’t wait to talk more, Stephen!) as much as we do the speakers from the stage. We are the kind of people who get each other, and it helps to hang out in one place for a few days. Read Seren’s take on that here.
And speaking of the speakers. Wow. We started out with Ed Dobson (see previews of his short film series here) and ended with Ian Cron (see some video of him speaking here) and everything in between was pure brilliance. A highlight was, as we all expected, Sean Astin, especially because he came across as so genuine and made us feel like we’re only one good role or script or recording away from being in his shoes. He didn’t take himself too seriously, but he also recognized the privilege of being part of great storytelling. Sometimes the person whose name really draws people to an event turns out to be a bit of a dud. Not in this case. Astin delivered on every count. He was definitely the best part. Although Cron spoke an Episcopalian blessing over us to close the conference and that was pretty intense as well. And Kyle Cooper opened his talk with the entire prologue from Henry VIII . . .Â So maybe picking a best part it too difficult.
Back to the photo. See the orange/burgundy strap of my new Nolan Bag? This is a handmade messenger-style tote that every attendee was given, and each one was an original. Nolan himself (well, I’m not sure that’s his name, but he’s a real 18 year-old guy with a big dream) was there in lobby (right behind where we’re standing, actually) on a sewing machine churning out new designs! This boutique feel is what you get at STORY. Famous author Ted Dekker spoke in the Art Gallery during one break and took questions from us as if we were sitting in his living room. Stuff like that happens at STORY.
Oh, and one more thing. There is no sign of it in the photo, but STORY announced a new and exciting project this year. Ben Arment and his team have a dream to make a feature length film about the story of David and Goliath. Their growing team includes the Dot&Cross group that produced Rob Bell’s popular Nooma video series. Quality work. One thing I can promise you from this team is a quality product. This film will be well executed; you won’t be embarrassed to show it to your friends. In fact, we’re banking on the fact that you WILL want to show it to your friends. STORY is pursuing a whole new approach to funding and asking the Church to help by pre-purchasing a premiere of the movie over the weekend of October 12-14, 2012. You can host in your own living room or host a huge screening at your church or other public venue. Check out the website and consider getting behind the dream. It isn’t conventional. It won’t be easy. But, as I recently read from Andy Crouch, “it is better to create something worth criticizing than to criticize and create nothing.”
If any of this appeals to you, check out the pre-registration page for next year. See you in Chicago in September 2012!
P. S. The coffee cup? That might have been actually been my favorite part. Dan makes a mad cup of french press coffee. Since he booked us in a condo for the weekend, we were able to share the space with 6 of our friends and family members for a much lower price than a hotel. It also had way more charm and meant we could make our own coffee each morning and well as decompress each evening in the quiet and style of a Chicago flat. My husband is awesome.