Saturday, February 28, 2015

Opportunities told

If the stories had not been so interesting, I suppose the doughnut would have been full.

Tim Stafford explains to a Navy Pier tourist why his middle-schoolers are not disgusting

I got to work in Red Kiva for the first time on Feb. 26, when Catalyst Chicago brought me in to photograph their "Classroom Story Slam." The room was interesting: Three seating levels, including a circular couch that pulls up to the front of the stage. That's got to be a toughie for jazz trios or DJs — to be performing for the backs of people's heads as they sip and try to mingle above what you are playing.

This event's performers (five trained storytellers) had no such problems. A few listeners sat on the half of the couch-doughnut that faced the speakers, the rest sat or stood behind me — but there was not much mingling as this group shared their experiences.

This was the first of three slams Catalyst will organize this year; it's theme was "Opportunity." Even though I was "working" (taking pictures...tough "work"), bits of what they told the crowd are sticking with me. Michele described opportunity as a meteor shower; Ray spoke about his struggles with convincing bright students to grab a hold of opportunity; Tim recalled a lost opportunity to confront man who disrespected his middle-school students.