Brian Lindstrom’s award-winning films attempt to reduce stigma and reveal the humanity of people living on the margins. Alien Boy: The Life and Death of James Chasse explores police accountability in the brutal death of a non-violent man with schizophrenia. Finding Normal follows longtime heroin and crack addicts trying to rebuild their lives with the help of recovery mentors. His latest film, Mothering Inside, focuses on the Family Preservation Project at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Wilsonville, Oregon which helps inmate moms develop and maintain loving relationships with their children.
Lindstrom is currently making a documentary on the late singer/songwriter Judee Sill, as well as collaborating with his wife Cheryl Strayed on a tv series for HBO.
Visit his website for more about his films.
Caroline Paul is an American writer and a former firefighter. Her books include Fighting Fire, East Wind, Rain, Lost Cat and the recent New York Times bestseller Gutsy Girl.
Caroline grew up in New England, with an identical twin, a younger brother, and a menagerie of animals. She graduated from Stanford University, where she studied Communications and thought of becoming a documentary filmmaker. Instead, in 1989, she became a San Francisco firefighter, for thireen and a half years, an experience she wrote about in Fighting Fire, her first book. Her second one, East Wind, Rain, is a historical novel currently being developed into a feature film. Lost Cat, published in 2013 and illustrated by her partner, artist Wendy MacNaughton, details Paul’s high-tech search for her lost cat.
The Gutsy Girl: Escapades for Your Life of Epic Adventure, also illustrated by Wendy MacNaughton, was published in 2016. Part memoir, part how-to-outdoors guide, the book is a collection of stories and ”derring-dos” that aim to instill bravery and resilience in young girls.
Visit her website to find out more.
Carson Ellis is the illustrator of a number of books for kids, including New York Times bestsellers Home (which she also wrote), The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart, The Composer Is Dead by Lemony Snicket, and The Wildwood Chronicles by Colin Meloy (who happens to be her husband).
Carson is also an occasional maker of editorial illustration (having worked for The New York Times, Poetry Magazine, and The New Yorker, among others) and an even more occasional fine artist represented by Nationale in Portland. And she’s the illustrator-in-residence for The Decemberists.
Carson lives on a farm in Oregon with Colin, their two sons, one cat, two llamas, two goats, one sheep, eight chickens, a family of barn owls and an unfathomable multitude of tree frogs.
Check out her portfolio.
Cătălin Tolontan is one of the most reputable sports and investigative journalists in Romania, winner of ten “journalist of the year” awards in the past 12 years. He started working in media in early 1990 by founding, producing and distributing a student newspaper. Fast-forward twenty-five years, and Cătălin became the general manager and editor-in-chief of one of the best Romanian sports news outlet: Gazeta Sporturilor – GSP.RO
In the past decade he was the author along his colleagues of several high profile journalistic investigations, exposing corruption either in Romanian football clubs or of high officials in key governmental institutions.
His 2009 investigative piece that lead to the stepping down and later prosecution of the Minister of Youth and Sport, Monica Iacob – Ridzi, was mentioned in the 2009 European Commission’s Report on Romania and the USA’s State Department Report on Romania.
Another journalistic investigation started in 2013 with colleague Mirela Neag regarding the illegal financing of the Bute Gala lead to the formal prosecution in early 2015 of several people, including the former Minister of Tourism, Elena Udrea. The same investigation won a prestigious award at the 2014 International News Media Association Awards for Best Use of An Event to Build a News Brand.
Visit his blog for more.
Cheryl Strayed is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling memoir Wild, the New York Times bestsellers Tiny Beautiful Things and Brave Enough, and the novel Torch. Her books have been translated into forty languages around the world. Wild was chosen by Oprah Winfrey as her inaugural selection for Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 and was made into an Oscar-nominated film starring Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern.
Cheryl’s essays have been published in The Best American Essays, the New York Times, the Washington Post Magazine, Vogue, Salon, The Sun, Tin House, and elsewhere. Cheryl is also the co-host, along with Steve Almond, of the WBUR podcast Dear Sugar Radio, which originated with her popular Dear Sugar advice column. She lives in Portland, Oregon.
Colin Meloy is the singer/guitarist and songwriter for the Portland, OR band The Decemberists. He is also the author of the New York Times bestselling Wildwood Chronicles, a trilogy of novels for middle-grade readers. He was born in Helena, Montana, USA. He studied theater and writing in college, eventually transplanting to Portland as a wayward twenty-something, where he formed The Decemberists. Since its founding in 2001, the band has released seven records and an untold amount of singles and EPs. They have toured worldwide and have garnered three Grammy nominations. Their 2011 record, The King is Dead, debuted at #1 on the Billboard album chart.
During a break in the band’s recording and touring schedule, Colin wrote the books that would comprise the Wildwood Chronicles, a series of novels for young readers. The books are set in a reimagined version of modern-day Portland where the city’s 5,000 acre wooded park, Forest Park, is a enchanted country of its own, inhabited by warring coyotes and meditating mystics. WILDWOOD, the first book in the series, won the E.B. White Read-Aloud Award in 2012. He lives just outside of Portland with his wife, the illustrator Carson Ellis, and their two sons.
Visit his band’s website and the Wildwood Chronicles.
Dvora Meyers is a writer and journalist based in New York. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, The New York Times, ESPN, Slate, and several other publications. Her book about women’s gymnastics, The End of the Perfect 10, was published by Simon & Schuster in July. She is a Brooklyn native and still lives in the borough of her birth with her dog, Lizzie. Neither one speaks with a Brooklyn accent.
Jacqui Banaszynski is an endowed Knight Chair professor at the Missouri School of Journalism, where she works with the true storytellers of the 21st Century. Her newspaper career took her to all seven continents, including three trips to Antarctica. She has written about corruption and crime, beauty pageants and popes, AIDS and the Olympics, dogsled expeditions and refugee camps, labor strikes and political strife, traffic fatalities and family tragedies.
She won the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for an intimate series on a gay farm couple dying of AIDS, and was a finalist for the 1986 Pulitzer Prize in international reporting for her eyewitness account of the famine crisis in sub-Saharan Africa. In 1991, she covered the Kurdish refugees who fled Iraq after the first Gulf War. She won the Associated Press Sports Editors’ deadline award for coverage of Greco-Roman wrestling at the 1988 Olympics. Projects she has edited have won ASNE Best Newspaper Writing, Ernie Pyle Human Interest Writing and national business, social issues and investigative prizes.
Her students frequently placed in the Hearst Awards, considered the Pulitzer Prizes of college journalism. She is an editing fellow at The Poynter Institute, and coaches reporters, writers and editors around the world. In 2008, she was named to the Society of Features Journalists Hall of Fame.
You can find some of her work and her blog on her StoryLines website at www.jacquibanaszynski.com
Watch Jacqui’speech on the importance of place in stories from 2015.
Watch Jacqui’s speech on listening and interviewing from 2014.
Watch Jacqui’s speech on the power of stories to reach people from 2013.
Jon Mooallem is a longtime contributing writer to The New York Times Magazine and the author of Wild Ones: A Sometimes Dismaying Weirdly Reassuring Story About Looking at People Looking at Animals in America, chosen a best book of 2013 by The New York Times Book Review, The New Yorker and Canada’s National Post. He also contributes to This American Life, Wired, California Sunday Magazine, is a writer-at-large for Pop-Up Magazine and has spoken at TED.
He writes about all sorts of things, including, recently: a $42 million pigeon-breeding Ponzi scheme, the assassination of endangered monk seals in Hawaii, a pastor who ministers exclusively to major league baseball umpires, and a Silicon Valley design firm that’s “redesigning death.”
His Atavist story “American Hippopotamus” – about two rival spies who joined forces to bring hippopotamus-ranching to America in 1910 – is being adapted into a film by Brett Ratner and Edward Norton.
Jonah Sachs is the founder and a partner of Free Range Studios, a brand and innovation company that transforms companies through Unsafe Thinking. Helping clients embrace extreme change, Sachs has become a globally recognized pioneer in bringing social causes into the digital age.
With Free Range, he produced the first smash hit social change viral videos, popularized the concept of empowerment marketing, popularized storytelling in business and helped dozens of global organizations change their business models to meet a rapidly changing marketplace.
For his work he has been awarded “best of” honors three times at the South by Southwest interactive festival, earned a Webby Award and been featured at the Sundance Film Festival. His work has been shown at the Smithsonian and repeatedly covered in publications from the New York Times to CNN to The Colbert Report. Fast Company has named Sachs one of the fifty innovators offering hope for the planet.
He is the author of Winning the Story Wars: Why Those Who Tell (and Live) the Best Stories will Rule the Future (Harvard Business Review Press, 2012).
Watch Jonah’s speech on making brands stand out by using myths and archetypes from 2014.
Tara Skurtu is a Boston-based poet, teacher, and translator currently living in Romania, where she is a Fulbright lecturer in creative writing at Transilvania University of Brașov. She is the recipient of two Academy of American Poets prizes and a Robert Pinsky Global Fellowship, and her recent poems appear in The Kenyon Review, Poetry Review, Poetry Wales, and Plume.
Romanian translations appear in DoR, SUBCAPITOL, Zonă Noua, and three editions of the Poets in Transylvania anthology. Her debut poetry collection, The Amoeba Game, will be translated by Radu Vancu and published by Charmides.
Tim Howard is the Executive Producer at Reply All, a podcast from Gimlet Media in Brooklyn, NY. Before joining Gimlet, Tim was a producer at WNYC’s Radiolab, where he reported on language, science, and politics. In his free time, he writes and records music under the name Soltero.
Wendy MacNaughton is an illustrator and graphic journalist whose books include Meanwhile in San Francisco, The City in Its Own Words; Lost Cat: A True Story of Love, Desperation, and GPS Technology; Pen & Ink, Tattoos and The Stories Behind Them; and the most recent New York Times bestseller Gutsy Girl, written by Caroline Paul.
Her work appears in places like the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Print Magazine. She lives in San Francisco with two cats, one dog and her partner, writer Caroline Paul.
Watch Wendy MacNaughton’s speech on drawing people’s stories from 2015.