Treasure Maps: Macon, the first event in the three-part 2022 Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD) Storytelling Project, kicked off on Saturday, September 17, to a wonderful crowd in Macon, Georgia. The film screening and community celebration that took place at the Elaine Lucas Center at Carolyn Crayton Park was attended by the Treasure Maps stars, friends, and family members as well as many Macon-area leaders and community leaders.
This is the second anthology of short films done as a part of The GCDD Storytelling Project. Last year, the first set of short films capturing the stories of 10 Georgians with developmental disabilities were produced and toured the state as a part of Treasure Maps: The Georgia Storytelling Roadshow 2021. Xerophile Films, who produced those films, returned for a second year on the project. All 10 of the 2021 Treasure Maps films are available on GCDD’s YouTube channel.
The GCDD Storytelling Project that began four years ago as an opportunity for Georgians with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) to share stories with their legislators has become a multi-faceted collection of written stories, audio conversations, and films displaying the rich tapestry that makes up the lives of these individuals. L’Arche Atlanta, StoryMuse, and their partners have traveled the state collecting images and stories of Georgians with IDD and the lives they live. So far, more than 150 stories have been told through the two seasons of the Hidden Voices podcast, the documentary 6,000 Waiting, and short- and long-form written stories with accompanying photographs.
The project, managed by a partnership between GCDD, L’Arche Atlanta, and StoryMuse, is unique in the way it entertains audiences while also touching on important topics such as finding one’s talent, being a part of community, and gaining independence. From a woman sharing her love of books through volunteering at a school to a budding comedian honing his craft under the guidance of a seasoned professional, the stories are rich and diverse.
The ten Georgians showcased in the film have undergone extensive training in the art of storytelling. Through a series of workshops, they learned the basics of how to tell a story and what lived experiences they’d had that would make for the best stories to tell. This year, the producers focused their eyes on Macon, and the ten residents that were selected for the project from there are as follows:
- Gregory Childs
- Stuart Evans
- Lydia Foss
- Tyler Harper
- Nandi Isaac
- Crawford Lyman
- Guillermo Ramon
- Valerya Robinson
- Sara Whitby
- Tamika Woods
Event attendees relished the opportunity to meet and talk to the Macon Storytellers themselves, and the film’s stars enjoyed their newfound celebrity. Treasure Maps Storyteller Guillermo Ramon shared, “I have paralysis in one arm which allowed me to live a very normal life. My experience participating in the Storytelling Project was fascinating for me and being a part of the Storytelling Project, you see that there are many different opportunities when you have a disability.”
“It was a very personal experience that creates a unique history. That’s what I like about the Storytelling Project, everyone has a unique and different history,” said Ramon. “I have appreciation for the fact that my life is special and have had an opportunity to see the weaknesses in others that we can all have.”
“Working alongside community- based organizations like Storytellers Macon and Macon-Bibb County Parks and Recreation weaves this work into the fabric of the city. It connects local people to local people and in doing so builds relationships that will last beyond this one project,” said Shannon Turner, StoryMuse’s Founder and Lead Artist and Storyteller who facilitated training workshops.
The festivities began with the Cuban Island Café and Cheeseburger Freddie food trucks, The Vineyard Band, and many representatives from the community at the resource fair, including Wesley Glen, Macon Magazine, Pentatonic Therapies, and many others.
“It was an amazing experience to be a part of the making of this film. I’m happy my dreams and wishes came into reality through prayers and by God’s grace,” said Nandi Isaac.
The event was not only an opportunity to educate and inform audiences, but it also brought together various agencies from the Macon community to make the event a reality. Staff from Macon Bibb County Recreation Department, Storytellers Macon, River Edge Behavioral Health, Wesley Glen Ministries, Citizen Advocacy, and The Arc of Macon contributed their time and talent to the training workshops and community celebration, and this evening would not have been possible without them.
“I am excited for the opportunity to work with GCDD and StoryMuse for the second year in a row and to create Treasure Maps: Macon. At River Edge, we see individuals’ abilities not disabilities and Treasure Maps gives a larger voice to that motto,” said Greta O’Dell, IDD Director at River Edge Behavioral Health in Macon.
“Gatherings like the premiere and celebration for Treasure Maps: Macon are community building events that draw in many residents who’ve never had a connection to Georgia’s disability community. When spaces like these are created, true connection and relationships happen,” said Maria Pinkelton, GCDD’s Public Relations Director. “I am so happy to see how the citizens of Macon and so many grassroots, community-based organizations worked alongside the Friends of L’Arche and StoryMuse to coach the ten talented storytellers and create this wonderful evening.”
For those who are interested in participating in The GCDD Storytelling Project, there are two more opportunities to have their voices heard. Budding storytellers will have the opportunity to tell their stories through traditional interview- based journalistic stories with photographs, or through a partnership with Cow Tipping Press, they can participate in a workshop that will build their capacity to develop a thorough understanding of the art of story building and how to convey their own stories. A formal, public book launch featuring the stories of those individuals will cap the work with Cow Tipping Press.
Learn more about The GCDD Storytelling Project, view the complete library of work done thus far, and learn how you can participate in an upcoming storytelling event by visiting our website at story-collection.gcdd.org.
Tell Your Stories
The GCDD Storytelling Project team is looking for sixteen individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities (IDD), their family, and/or caregivers/support staff who are interested in having their story documented by professional writers and photographers as a part of The GCDD Storytelling Project. These stories are used by GCDD in a variety of ways, including our newsletters and website, and sometimes for advocacy with your legislators.
If you’d like to have your story become a part of the growing archive of The GCDD Storytelling Project, please fill out this form: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeQVv7XAWbSSAQVJIj_iiai5vfLrxo1R_qcj4GXW1heJ1tQLQ/viewform
The deadline for application for Telling Our Stories is rolling. Applications will be accepted until November 1, 2022.
Contact Shannon Turner at The GCDD Storytelling Project at email@example.com or 678-837-6681