What is Story House?
Story House Ithaca is a new organization that brings people together to share, study, create, and enjoy stories in all their forms. We are a project of the Center for Transformative Action.
We define "story" very broadly, to include fiction and nonfiction, poetry and song, journalism and documentary, photography and film, theater and dance, puppetry and mime, graphics and games, and every other way of communicating ideas and experience.
Our definition of "house" is also broad. We hope eventually to settle into our own space, but for now we're excited to be popping up online and around the community.
Story House Ithaca is a local initiative, but it was inspired by Story House Belvédère in Rotterdam and Alphabet City in Pittsburgh. Both serve as important gathering places in their communities while promoting human rights and free creative expression.
What do we do?
We create. Story House organizes and presents workshops, presentations, participatory projects, performances, and other activities.
We connect. Story House teams up with organizations, artists, activists, scholars, and others to create new programming, find new partners, and reach new audiences.
We empower. Story House helps members of our community acquire and practice the skills they need to tell the stories they want to tell.
Who are we?
Story House Ithaca grew out of discussions among local writers, artists, teachers, activists, business owners, and other community members.
Co-Directors Lesley Greene and Jonathan Miller. Photo by Casey Martin/Ithaca Times.
Lesley Greene is a sound designer, composer, video editor, playwright, and director. She worked for many years at the Kitchen Theatre Company as a producer, grant writer, and theatrical jack of all trades. The holder of no fewer than three science degrees from Cornell, she is co-founder and co-organizer of Porchfest, a festival that began in Ithaca in 2007 and now takes place in more than 150 cities across North America. More complete bio here.
As a print and radio journalist, Jonathan Miller spent many years venturing out into the world and reporting back on what he learned. Now he looks forward to learning from and with his friends and neighbors. In addition to co-directing Story House Ithaca, he serves on the board of Ithaca City of Asylum, a local volunteer group built on three of the things he values most: generosity, hospitality, and the defense of creative expression. More complete bio here.
Advisory board members Jonathan Plotkin (top left), Fred Schoeps (top right), Marietta Synodis (second row left), Kathryn Henion (second row center), and Kenneth McLaurin (third row center). You've already met Lesley (top center) and Jon (second row right).
Kathryn Henion is a fiction writer whose work has appeared in more than 20 literary journals. She serves as fiction editor for the online journal of art and literature, Anomaly. She was artistic director of the Community Arts Partnership’s Spring Writes Literary Festival in 2018 and 2019. By day, she writes, designs, and coordinates social media and web marketing campaigns for Cornell’s Meinig School of Biomedical Engineering.
Kenneth McLaurin is a stand-up comedian, storyteller, screenwriter, actor, poet, and producing and performing artist. Kenneth created the So You Think You’re Anti-Racist Competition, the All Black Everything Arts Festival, and Ithaca is Black People Too, a virtual community show that showcases Ithaca’s rich Black history and culture. Along with his wife Elbonee “SingTrece” McLaurin, he performs as Singing Notes and Slinging Jokes.
Jonathan Plotkin founded and ran Sherpa Technologies, an Ithaca-based IT support, networking, and security company for 20 years before starting Storyography, LLC in 2010 to pursue his interest in filming personal life stories and storytelling events. He has served on the executive boards of several local non-profit organizations, including the Human Services Coalition and the Ithaca Reform Temple, Tikkun v’Or.
Fred Schoeps moved to Ithaca with his wife Margot in 2008. As a downtown small business owner he believes and advocates for a robust and vibrant local economy. He serves on the board of the Downtown Ithaca Alliance and considers it a privilege to have served a founding board member of Groundswell Center for Local Food and Farming. And as president of the Social Services League, Fred is continually amazed at all that Ithaca's many non-profits do that reflect the community's caring and loving heart.
Marietta Synodis is a performative storyteller who tells stories through a variety of media, including acting, puppetry, dance, and radio. She was a radio producer in New York City and worked for the award-winning NPR show State of the Re:Union. She is currently producing THIS is Ithaca, a podcast about community and the people who build it. She is a founding member of Lilypad Puppet Theatre.
Our planning group includes Kathrin Achenbach, Shola Ajayi, Brett Bossard, Anna Canny, Regi Carpenter, Kelsey Gardner, Kitty Gifford, Peaches Gillette, Eleanor Henderson, Scott Hitz, Rachel Lampert, Laura Larson, Aimée Lehmann, Johannes Lehmann, Barbara Mink, Steve Paling, Eric Pritz, Mickie Quinn, Sara Stamatiades, Neil Schill, Elbonee "SingTrece" McLaurin, and Elizabeth Wolff.
Why are we doing this?
Stories have always brought people together. They're how we make sense of ourselves and how we learn about one another. They’re the paths we take to explore the world, and the tools we use to report what we discover.
Yet stories can also deceive and divide us. To thrive in a world of stories, we need to spend time in one another's presence, to get to know one another, to interact in meaningful ways. We need to open our minds, pay attention, and be unafraid to ask each other questions.
In all our programs and activities, we are committed to creating inclusive spaces that welcome diversity. We strive to foster interactions between people of different cultures, ethnicities, and socioeconomic backgrounds, with the goal of working toward shared understanding and a more equitable, anti-racist society.
What can you do?
Pitch us! We love to work with creative and passionate people. If you have an idea for a program, there's a handy form here.
Join us! If you'd like to be a part of our planning group, or if you'd like to donate your skills or ask us a question, shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Support us! If you want to donate money (and of course you do!), it's easy with GiveGab.