A brave space, according to our University, is a courageous learning environment in which you can feel confident that you will not be exposed to discrimination, criticism, harassment, or any other emotional or physical harm. It’s a space where you may at times feel uncomfortable as your beliefs, perspective, and identity evolve, but you will always be safe to express and explore them. It is also, as Dr. Kristine Barnett shared at this year’s Thumbprint Lecture, “a space to process and articulate your story without fear or judgement.” And just importantly, she shared, it’s a place to support others who are doing the same.
Sarah Austin Jenness, Executive Producer at The Moth and this year’s Thumbprint Lecture guest speaker, wholeheartedly agreed that an important aspect of storytelling is being on the listening end to someone else’s story. After all, an audience is what enables a story to be heard. An audience is what enables a storyteller to be heard. And very often, someone chooses to tell their story because they feel the need to be heard.
The Moth, the group behind this year’s first-year read The Moth Presents Occasional Magic, is, as Jenness puts it, in the business of empathy. Their goal is to spark deeper conversations between people, and often within a person, which can only happen in a truly brave space. It is the same goal of Bay Path’s WELL program.
“The Moth Presents Occasional Magic allowed our first-year students to use their writings, discussions, and activities in order to critically think and reflect on their own lives as they read about the emotionally captivating lives of others,” shared Dinah Moore, Bay Path’s Director of WELL and Community Life. “Like The Moth, Bay Path's WELL program provides students with the opportunity to not only find out who they are, but to embrace it in a brave space. It presents an awesome opportunity for students to look inside themselves and identify their values that are most important to them, their strengths that will continue to make them successful, and their weaknesses that the program will help them develop.”
With over 600 events a year, a podcast, and books resulting in over two million people hearing over 3,500 stories annually, the team at The Moth knows a little something about getting people to dig deep to share their stories. “Stories are about where you are at the time you’re telling them,” Jenness shared. “There are so many ways you can tell your story, and sometimes telling them different ways is how you figure out what the story is really about. Life is long, but stories are short. Pick one aspect and hone in on why only you can tell it.”