September 12, 2017

11 reasons to join The Power of Storytelling in 2017

The best way to know our speakers and understand what you can learn from them is to consume their work. Here's a small part of it.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists who wrote about human tragedies, mental health professionals who heal towns, and media innovators who tell stories through VR (virtual reality) – these are just a few of our speakers this year at The Power of Storytelling. And while there are tons of reasons to come and see just one of them, we’ll share the most important 11 things that should motivate you to join us in October:

Whether she’s documenting a conflict zone or the refugees’ route through Europe, Elie Gardner focuses on stories about people in difficult situations and how they overcome them. Take a look at a story she documented about a Syrian refugee in Berlin who dedicated his time to helping the homeless.

Finbarr O’Reilly shot the most dangerous war zones in the world for about 12 years, and this August he released his first book, a joint memoir with Sgt. Thomas James Brennan, titled Shooting Ghosts, about their experience of war and PTSD. Here’s Finbarr writing about the book for The New York Times’s Lens Blog.

“One Marine ran toward Sergeant Brennan, who had been knocked unconscious by the blast. He was revived and staggered back toward me as I photographed him collapsing into the cover of the compound. That explosion welded our lives together in unexpected ways.”


Murray Nossel is a documentary film maker and psychologist who, along with Paul Browde, co-created and stars in the unscripted live show Two Men Talking – an exploration of friendship and identity. At first it was hard sharing the most painful, personal stories about his father’s abuse, but Murray told The New York Times he doesn’t regret revealing that in the performance.

“The biggest transformation for me has been the telling of that story,” Mr. Nossel said. “I was worried it would get back to my father, that people would judge him for it, people would judge me for it. I’m a traumatized person for what happened to me. My father was quite brutal in many ways.”


Paul Browde is also a therapist, specialised in working with couples and people in vulnerable categories, who uses narrative medicine to treat his patients. Here’s a fascinating TEDx Brooklyn talk by Paul and Murray about the importance of listening in shaping the stories we tell.

Social conflicts, justice reform and migration are just a few of the themes Sarah Stillman explores in her award-winning stories for The New Yorker. Read her story Where are the Childern, which took her to Mexico to meet with women whose husbands or children were kidnapped for ransom while trying to enter the US illegally.

Nikole Hannah-Jones spent the past five years investigating racial segregation in US schools and education reform. This New York Times Magazine piece, focused on the efforts to enrol her own daughter in a good school, reveals the inequities of the school network in New York.

One night in 1989, the bodies of three women were found floating near a port in Florida. Tom French’s Angels and Demons tells the story of how they were killed and how the authorities handled the case. His mastery of theme and idea, focusing the story around good and evil, faith and dreams, the characters’ motivations and their experiences, won him a Pulitzer Prize.

Jacqui Banaszynski won a 1988 Pulitzer Prize for feature writing, was nominated two years earlier for her international reporting, and has since become a respected mentor for generations of journalists. If you’re wondering what makes her so good and what it took for a woman to succeed as a journalist in the 1970s and 80s, take a look at her #Story16 speech on gender and wearing mascara in Antarctica.

Mindy Fullilove, a psychiatrist studying how cities impact the mental health of their communities, started her research with her own hometown, Orange, NJ, and the need to live in a healthy, reliable environment – she explains this in An Antidote for the Unjust City: Planning to Stay.

Nominated for an Emmy, The Displaced is a The New York Times short that shows you the stories of three out of three million children who had to leave their homes because of wars. Jenna Pirog, the first full-time VR editor of the media industry in the US, produced it.

Pat Walters contributed to major podcasts like Radiolab or Undone. This October, he’s launching a new show called Uncivil on Gimlet Media, which goes back in American history to a time when the country was divided by the Civil War, to reveal stories left out of official history. Listen to the trailer and sign up for updates here.

Don’t hesitate too much before registering for #Story17. There are only a few dozen seats left.