It is a great honor for me to share my experience with New Stories and their staff. I have been associated with the group for over eight years. During this time, they have been a valuable asset to my practice and to the Cherokee citizens I serve.
Cherokee communities are suspicious of outsiders. There are some good historical reasons for this attitude. However, it is not conducive to open communication. The New Stories people were able to work through this shield simply be listening to the answers of our people.
Bob Stilger and his people, quickly build an environment of safety for our citizens, one in which they felt they could share the issues of their community without fear of “outsider” judgement. The skill of the New Stories people was a master class for me and my practice. Dr. Stilger and his crew were able to take data points from many different conversations and build them into coherent directions for our communities.
The use of a graphic documenter for the discussions with our communities was amazing. The “minutes” of each session were artfully drawn on a mural sized paper. Our community members not only saw what they had said, but also saw how it connected to the other points made by fellow citizens and how that could lead to a direction for the community.
There is an ancient Cherokee value that is expressed by the term GaDuGi. It is most directly translated into the phrase “People coming together as one and working to help one another”. The people of New Stories brought this value to life for our communities. They modeled it for our people and our communities responded by opening their hearts to the work of building a better community.
Mark D Parman Evaluation & Outcomes Measurement Specialist,Community & Cultural Outreach February 7, 2019