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November Story Slam Review

On Friday November 10th, I again attended the Story Slam event at the Lawrence Art Center. For those of you who did not read my previous review, the Story Slam is an event in which people can sign up to tell a story to the group. The story must in some way relate to the theme of the night (Friday night’s theme was “Adventure”).

It was certainly fun listening to the stories. However, this time around, I felt that the stories weren’t quite as good as last month’s. Perhaps this is simply because this time I had significantly higher expectations going into it than last month, or perhaps it is because the stories weren’t quite as good. Either is possible.

That said, this event was immensely fun to go to, and there were many great stories to hear. The stories covered a wide ranges of topics and experiences. From a man’s personal story about traveling the world searching for the meaning of life, to a Lich’s story about how he just isn’t motivated to be evil any more, each storyteller shared their own unique experiences in their own unique ways. One story I found to be particularly engaging was one story by a woman named Jo about how she campaigned to change birthing procedures at Lawrence Memorial Hospital.

Jo began by describing the methods used by the “Big Three” doctors at LMH. She declared that they had sucked the excitement out of birthing. Back then at LMH, mothers were kept separate from their partners and their newly-born children for hours after birth. Going along with the theme of the night, she proclaimed that giving birth was supposed to be an adventure, but at LMH, it was “anything but.” She recalled spearheading a movement to promote in-home births, much to the dismay of the Big Three, who claimed that in-home births done by midwifes were dangerous. Tensions between the in-home birthing movement and the traditional Big Three came to a climax when a baby died in the process of being birthed in-home by a midwife. Jo then decided to organize a Town Hall to discuss the issue publicly. The panel consisted of people on both sides of the argument, and, after the traditional-birthing advocates spoke their piece, a woman who’d had an in-home birth shared her story. She told of her experiences with the midwife and how happy she had been when she’d gotten to see her newborn baby for the first time. At that point, “there was not a dry eye in the room.” Even those who were advocating against in-home births were brought to tears. After the Town Hall, concessions were made, and the Big Three agreed to make some changes to LMH’s birthing procedures.

As someone who was born in LMH and raised here in Lawrence, this story hit home with me. As someone who has heard many stories of Lawrence’s old days from my parents, I was shocked that I had never heard of this. These events still affect people’s lives to this day, and I, someone who knows a great deal about Lawrence history, have never heard this story until today. Realistically speaking, if I had not attended this Story Slam, I most likely would have gone my whole life unaware of this important chapter in Lawrence history.

As with my last review, I highly recommend everyone to go and give this event a try. There is no better way to end a stressful week than taking your mind off your troubles and listening to some compelling stories. Plus, you might learn something cool that you wouldn’t have learned otherwise.

The next event will be held January 12th at the Lawrence Arts Center. Live music and social hour starts at 7pm and the stories start at 7:30. The story is “The Trouble with Technology,” and given the seniority of many frequent storytellers, I expect this to be a particular humorous night. I hope to see you there!