#93) SCALING UP: National Park Service Launches 6 Story Circles in Colorado

Next Tuesday and Wednesday I’ll be in Fort Collins, Colorado to launch 6 Story Circles for the National Park Service arising from our Demo Day in January. It’s an exciting step forward for Story Circles Narrative Training. Not only will there be the 5 people within each circle, but there will be the 6 circles running simultaneously. It’s the closest approximation to date to our vision of creating “narrative culture” within an organization. We’ve completed 16 Story Circles to date. All have been great, but this is the first time we’re moving the process up to this scale.
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NATIONAL PARK SERVICE DEMO DAY January, 2017, Lakewood, Colorado. Aaron Huertas and Randy Olson start the day’s activities.



It’s been two years since we ran the first prototypes of Story Circles with NIH and USDA. Back then we were wondering “how will we manage to scale this up?”  The answer will come to life next week in Fort Collins, Colorado.

In January of this year we ran Demo Days in Ft Collins and Lakewood, Colorado. They involved a total of 57 participants. It took a couple of months to do the organizing, but by late March it was clear that enough people were eager and their schedules open to organize 6 Story Circles.

I’ll be going to Ft Collins next Tuesday and Wednesday to help with the launching of each circle. It’s great that we waited two years for this step forward. A year ago I would have been a little nervous about the logistics, but now that we’ve completed 16 Story Circles we’ve got the whole routine down and know how to launch them with no glitches.



Story Circles is not like a college course. Not at all. Aside from the initial orientation, there are no lectures, no note taking, no readings. It’s just week after week, analyzing material we give you, then analyzing the material of the group members. A few people have called it boring. If you find it boring, you’re not doing it right. A lot of people have called it hard and even draining. If you find it hard and even draining … you’re probably doing it right.

The process really works when you hit the point that you’re spotting the ABT in the real world and finding yourself thinking A LOT about the narrative structure of things around you. Like movies, or newspaper articles, or radio segments, or a presentation you’re attending. That is when Story Circles is starting to work. Not so much during the ten one hour segments, but rather outside of them and in the weeks and months after you finish the last segment.

At this point we’ve had lots of people report back that the training is very, very valuable. And a few who simply didn’t get it. It’s definitely not the happy fun social hours that Jayde Lovell and I originally thought it might be. It’s hard work. But also very effective. Which is why we’re excited about these 6 new circles that will begin next week.