Story Medicine Worldwide celebrates 10-year anniversary

Speakers at Story Medicine Worldwide celebration
SHARING THEIR EXPERIENCS: On Friday, March 12, Story Medicine Worldwide will kick off a three-day celebration recognizing its 10-year anniversary. The local organization focuses on storytelling as a means of healing. Featured speakers are, clockwise from top left, Dawn Blagrove, E. Patrick Johnson, Meta Commerse and Rob Thomas. Photo credits/courtesy, clockwise from top left, Emily Baxter; Story Medicine Worldwide; Commerse; Tony Shivers/Still Smiling Photography

Stories are at the center of Story Medicine Worldwide — a local organization that, according to its website, uses an “Indigenous healing modality, blending ritual with the written word” toward community learning and healing.

“By ‘story,’ we mean the things that have been forgotten, lost, become invisible,” explains its founder, Meta Commerse. “The things that people missed at key moments of their lives that they need to go back to so that they can retrieve that connective tissue.”

The organization will observe its 10-year anniversary with a three-day virtual celebration featuring local and national speakers. On Friday, March 12, at 6:30 p.m., Commerse will kick off the series with a discussion about Story Medicine Worldwide’s history and evolution.

Over the years, classes and workshops have explored topics on aging, family dynamics and finance. But the organization’s core mission is to address racial healing through self-reflection and storytelling.

“Racism is not just an American story,” says Commerse. “It is a global story.”

Joining Commerse will be three additional speakers: award-winning author and artist E. Patrick Johnson, who serves as the dean of Northwestern University’s School of Communication in Evanston, Ill.; Dawn Blagrove, the executive director of Emancipate NC, a Durham-based nonprofit that works to educate communities about systemic racism within the prison system; and Rob Thomas, community liaison for the Asheville Racial Justice Coalition.

The two Saturday sessions — running 9:30 a.m.-noon and 2-4:30 p.m. — begin with Johnson, who will address sexual trauma, particularly as it relates to Black Southern LGBTQ community members. Blagrove’s afternoon session will discuss alternatives to state-sanctioned violence.

Meanwhile, Thomas will close out the celebration with his Sunday, March 14, session from 2-4:30 p.m. “I will bring the audience back in time with me from childhood to present, to illuminate my journey of what lived experiences created the individual that you see today,” he says.

All weekend events include virtual breakout rooms, allowing participants time to hear and share their own histories.

“In our work, people are encouraged in a very accepting way to explore their own stories, to shed light on the shadows,” says Commerse, who hopes participants leave the virtual series filled with a deeper sense of possibility. “We hope they take away a sense of the value of their stories, their experiences … individually and in community. … We also hope that people will find themselves expanded in certain ways, having experienced parts of themselves that may have been invisible or numbed for a long time.”

The virtual series runs Friday-Sunday, March 12-14. Tickets are $49. To register, visit


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About Thomas Calder
Thomas Calder received his MFA in Fiction from the University of Houston's Creative Writing Program. His writing has appeared in Gulf Coast, the Miracle Monocle, Juked and elsewhere. His debut novel, The Wind Under the Door, is now available.

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