Storytelling Centre is a unique knowledge base of applied storytelling, nationally and internationally. With clear methods we teach people to tell stories and listen.
Since our founding in 2012, we have gained an enormous amount of knowledge on applied storytelling. We have incorporated this knowledge into various methods and books. By participating in European innovation projects, we have also developed several specific methods based on our Share to Connect method.
Our most well-known method is the Share to Connect method. It includes 27 exercises, shows how to prevent fear of telling stories, demonstrates the importance of a safe environment when sharing stories, how to use storytelling in conflicts, and the power of sharing personal stories.
This storytelling method is for everyone and is already being used by municipalities, social organisations and district administrators.
You can download the Share to Connect-methode for free via this website.
We developed several specific methods based on Share to Connect. These are used to stimulate personal growth, to create social impact, for example by countering polarisation, and for language development.
Storytelling contributes to a growth in self-confidence, self-respect and self-reflection. In this the aspect of being heard is very important. And you will be heard sooner if you can tell a good story. That is why we regularly offer training courses to different groups to learn how to tell a good story. Moreover, making a story helps you structure your thoughts and discover what you actually find important.
Many projects focus on women, but in there are also men who are in a vulnerable position in our society. They often came here in their early years to work, lost that work in one way or another and ended up in a downward spiral. They have a loss of self-esteem, feel that they are not taken seriously and feel shame. They become a single story. We have started a project within Golden Men to let these men discover their own story and to show them that they are not just this single story, but that their personality consists of so much more.
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“The enemy is the one whose story you do not know.” That is the starting point for our training focused on conflict management. Together with the participants we look for the common denominator or common ground and we ask to make stories about that. We do this in culturally diverse neighborhoods in the Netherlands, but also in Palestine / Israel. Trainings are tailor-made, depending on the target group and the goal. This can range from neighborhood disputes to conflict areas or problems related to diversity and social insecurity.
At the request of the OBA in Molenwijk, we developed a training course to connect young people and adults in that Amsterdam neighbourhood through stories. Many adults (45+) experienced the presence of certain groups of young people as a nuisance. Among other things, this reduced their sense of social security.
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We teach language trainers to use storytelling techniques and other non-formal learning methods in their classes of Dutch as a second language. The training courses are suitable for professionals and volunteers who work with people with low language acquisition skills. We make language learning fun. This way, participants gain the self-confidence to participate in society. In this way, we contribute to identity reinforcement.
Many European countries have experienced an influx of refugees in recent years. Learning the new language is essential for their integration. But what if this is too big a challenge? During our language lessons for people with low language learning skills, we saw a need for an alternative method.
Although Belgium, Germany, France and the Netherlands have good formal methods for learning the second language, there is a group of newcomers for whom this is too much of a challenge. For example due to low literacy. The goal of this 2-year European cooperation project is therefore to develop an alternative method to give them the chance to learn a new language so that they can actively participate in society.
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Storytelling is a hype, but the discussion about it is often limited to the ways in which stories are used to get a message across properly and to persuade others to buy into a world of thought, opinion or conviction. Storytelling offers so much more. Sharing stories connects, creates personal growth and can even lead to social strengthening and change.
This book highlights those sides and possibilities of storytelling. The Share to Connect method is included as the final chapter of the book, so that everyone can get started.
This book will be translated in English soon, so keep an eye on our site or socials for the exact date that it will be published.
Arjen Barel is the founder of Storytelling Centre. He is a storytelling coach, dramaturge, director and producer and spends a large part of his professional life listening to stories and training people in the art of storytelling. He teaches Storytelling and Presentation at the Hogeschool van Amsterdam and regularly gives guest lectures in the Netherlands and abroad. He also trains professionals in the use of storytelling in youth and community work in different parts of the world. In recent years, he has trained groups in Morocco, Palestine, Lithuania, Slovenia, Great Britain, Israel, Germany, Greece, Spain, Albania, Kosovo, North Macedonia and Hungary.
Arjen studied Theatre Science and Cultural Studies at the University of Amsterdam and wrote the books Theatre & Marketing, Tension & Sensation (composition and editing together with Esther Lagendijk) and Storytelling and the World – this book will be translated in English soon, so keep an eye on our site or socials for the exact date that it will be published. He regularly writes interesting pieces about storytelling and society. Keep an eye on our blog page to stay informed.
We are partners in various cooperation projects with various countries in Europe, often with the support of the programme Erasmus+. Because together we stand strong. We make use of the expertise that the international partners have to offer and thus ensure a strong and positive social impact throughout Europe. The methods we develop(ed) in each project contribute to our knowledge base.
We are lead partner in a major European project to improve the integration of refugees using digital storytelling. This project started in December 2020 and will run for two years. With partners from Greece, Cyprus, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Austria and Lithuania, we are working on strategies to make newcomers feel ‘at home’ more quickly in their new place of residence. This project fits within Storytelling Centre’s mission statement that there should be a place for every story in a balanced and equal society.
DIGIMI is made possible by a contribution from the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) of the European Union.
In this Erasmus+ innovation project, we look for narratives that connect. In line with this, we are developing strategies that will enable people to better recognise and combat harmful stories (fake news, hate speech). This project is in cooperation with partners from Kosovo, Norway, Romania and Cyprus. Read more about the project here.
Everyone has gold in them, but sometimes you have to dig a little deeper to find it. We have experience with this by working with the Golden Men. Now, together with partners from the United Kingdom, Hungary and Greece, we are looking to deepen the storytelling process even further in order to work with vulnerable groups. VU University Amsterdam is researching the process and providing the academic foundation. For this project, Storytelling Centre is collaborating with DW-RS productions.
How can you use storytelling as an intervention to reduce polarisation? We have put this into practice a number of times and are now starting a European project to develop transferable tools for this. The Stop! project intends to produce a board game, but also a handbook with methods for community and youth workers who want to bring groups together. Read more about this project here.
COBU is the abbreviation for ‘COmmunity BUilding through self-managed volunteer groups’. In this project, we work together with partners in Spain, France and Hungary. We train people to develop their own initiatives with and for the community they are part of. Such an initiative can be anything: knitting together, cooking, setting up a bicycle repair shop, playing bridge, chess or telling each other a weekly story. Read more here.
With this project we developed, together with professionals from France, Germany and Belgium, a non-formal and interactive language training course for people with low language acquisition skills. Suitable for both professional NT2 teachers and language learners. The most important lesson we learned was that the support for the use of the Alternative Ways method is high, and more and more people intend to use the exercises we developed. Click here for the method and more information.
Strengthening inclusive learning environments with multiple uses of cultural heritage; that is the goal of the Rebelah project. Together with partners from Spain, France and Hungary and with the University of Groningen, Institute for Christian Cultural Heritage, we investigate how to create learning environments in which everyone feels free with regard to cultural background and faith. Sharing stories is an essential activity to get there, but we also involve other methods, such as theatre and applied psychology. Read more about the project here.
In the Picture your Story project of Erasmus+ we developed a toolkit that connects young people with different cultural backgrounds in (potential) conflict areas. This enables them to build strong, resilient, respectful and peaceful communities. The PicS Toolkit has been developed and tested by several European organisations, all contributing their own expertise, based on research done for this project by Hogeschool van Amsterdam. Click here for the toolkit and more information.
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