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Vocalo’s Storytelling Workshop: Spring 2023

Written by on August 4, 2023

The Spring edition of Vocalo’s free quarterly Storytelling Workshop offers Chicago storytellers a valuable opportunity for hands-on experience in crafting and sharing audio-based narratives.

Under the guidance of Vocalo community and audio storytelling producer Ari Mejia, alongside co-facilitator artist and producer Ariana Martinez, this installment of Vocalo’s Storytelling Workshop brilliantly highlighted a collection of seven narratives. These stories, crafted by Chicago residents, delve into their communities and the pertinent issues that directly intersect with their lives. This empowering platform grants them the ability to act as community reporters, storytellers, sound designers and editors in sharing their unique perspectives.

Learn more about the storytellers and hear their stories below.

Photo courtesy of Bonnie Shultz

Bonnie Shultz: On the Knife’s Edge

Hey, women in Chicago kitchens! How are we doing? The recent wave of pop culture and media attention on kitchen culture might have us thinking things are on the up, but are they? Find out with me and I interview six local chefs and cooks, and detail a few of the things eaten along the way. Thank you to Lorraine Nguyen, Eve Studnicka, Alexis Thomas-Rice, Theresa L’Anza, Tamar Wittenberg and Alex Swieton for talking with me. Food credits to All Together Now, Sweet Rabbit Bakery and Funeral Potatoes.

Bonnie Shultz is a sign language interpreter here in Chicago. While in school she worked in pastry, and is deeply passionate about food, equity and laughing with her friends. She is deeply not passionate about people who intrude on others’ abilities to live their lives and do what they love. 

Photo courtesy of Brandon Chong

Brandon Chong: Music Through Work And Play

Some lies can be more significant than forging Mom’s signature on a report card: Passing a final exam. Loving someone. Weapons of mass destruction. Election tampering. But what about your origin story? Where you came from? This is a story of Inah, and what they’ve done with learning the truth.

Brandon was born in Chicago and existed through the ’90s enjoying the illegal fireworks in Legions Park, Disney on Ice over at the United Center, plagiarizing fairytales to retell them with Korean names, and collecting Marlboro Miles with his babysitter so they can get a fishing pole.

Photo courtesy of Chloe Dukes.

Chloe Dukes: Museums, Equity And Docents Reimagined

In this piece, I will revisit the 2021 “controversy” of #DOCENTGATE. Following the pandemic, a
social uprising and beckoning calls for equity, the Art Institute of Chicago made the decision to
disband their traditional volunteer-based docent program. This led to confusion among
volunteers, and bad faith responses from right-wing reactionaries. Like most sensationalized
and overly politicized stories in our present-day new cycle, people formed a half-baked opinion
and forgot about it. But I did not. Tune in for my thoughts and commentary, as well as how the
museum has reimagined the docent program with paid positions featuring fresh and familiar

Chloe Dukes is an artist and educator that focuses on inclusion, creative placemaking and diverse
storytelling in the arts. She grew up at the local art museum, it’s where s healways felt validated and
seen. The encouragement and safety provided in art spaces, led Chloe to earn a BFA and
Masters of Arts in Arts Administration. She is a total art nerd, and can talk about this type of stuff
all day! Chloe plans to continue with audio and video storytelling about art history and cultural

Photo courtesy of Sarah Schwartz

Sarah Schwartz: Pieces of Faith

Moving to a new city comes with a seemingly never-ending list of tasks, from unpacking boxes to rerouting mail. But there was one project that snuck up on me: Finding a synagogue. This is the story of my attempts to find a religious community in Chicago that feels like home — and why it’s a more complicated undertaking than I thought it might be. 

A recent transplant to Chicago, Sarah is a journalist from outside of Washington, D.C. In her spare time, you can find her trying out new recipes, spending time with her family and listening to good stories.  

Photo courtesy of Stuti Sharma

Stuti Sharma: I Ran an Afterschool Program On Devon

This piece is the story about how I ran an afterschool program in my home neighborhood of Devon and processing the grief of losing it. It transformed how I saw community, as a person, artist and community organizer.

Stuti Sharma (she/they) is a poet, comedian, photographer, educator and filmmaker who is of Indian heritage, born in Nairobi, and raised in Chicago. She has work in Autostraddle, Chicago Reader, Belt Magazine, Hooligan Magazine, Mason Jar Press and 68to05.com, and she was a member of the Tin House 2020 Summer Workshop. She was a collective member with Chicago Desi Youth Rising, and movement work grounds her work as an artist. Stuti ran an after school program in Chicago’s Devon neighborhood through the Indo American Center, where she ran a comedy fundraiser to get the kids an ice cream truck for free. You can contact and find more information on her shows and writing here

Photo courtesy of Tanikia Carpenter

Tanikia Carpenter: Be The Prayer

When someone is shot in Chicago, Pastor Donovan Price gives himself no more than 20 minutes to be on the scene. From cleaning victims’ blood off the sidewalk to mediating, his goal is to “be the prayer.” Storyteller Tanikia Thompson Carpenter interviews Pastor Donovan Price to learn more about his calling.

Born on the South Side of Chicago, Tanikia is a writer, actor and producer. She is the founder of Black
Citizens of Chicago, which tells the story and captures the life of Black Chicago. Her work has been
featured on the ESSENCE, in JET Magazine and Huffington Post, just to name a few. Tanikia received
her BFA in Media Studies from North Park University, with a minor in Africana Studies. During her
time at North Park, she led a group of students on a mission trip to Zambia, was editor of the campus
newspaper and became the first African American homecoming queen. Immediately after
graduating, she interned in Jackson, Mississippi under Dr. John Perkins and transcribed his memoir
Love is the Final Fight. She also curated events featuring Civil Rights activists such as Charles
Evers, brother of Medgar Evers, and more. Tanikia currently serves as the manager of storytelling at
Build Bronzeville. She’s married to her amazing husband, Stephen, and they have a beautiful
daughter, India.

Photo courtesy of Del Marie Nelson

Del Marie Nelson: Teacher Talk On Hip-Hop

Has hip-hop music has affected the culture of African Americans inside and outside of the classrooms over the last two generations? And if so, how much?

Del Marie is a Chicago-born creative and performing artist hailing from the West Side of the Chi. Del Marie was originally known on the artist scene for Afro diasporic and hip-hop dance moves. Now, she is known for her powerful music and beautiful live performance concerts. Fun fact: you may have caught her on national television a few times — in Black Girls Rock National Commercial “Love,” on Windy City Live and in Chance the Rapper and Joey Purp’s music video “Girls@.” 

Outside of being great on the stage or TV screen, you can find her being great in the classrooms. She is a teaching artist in schools across Chicago for dance, writing, poetry and visual arts. She has also taught performance arts to students in India, and trained in the in Costa Rica.

Learn more about Vocalo’s quarterly Storytelling Workshop here.

2023 Workshop led by Ari Mejia and co-facilitated by Ariana Martinez

Introduction written by Omi Salisbury

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