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In the spring of 1984 I was running a workshop for 15 aspiring songwriters at the California Medical Facility, otherwise known as Vacaville Prison. The class had been truly inspiring. We were only four weeks into it, and a dozen amazing songs had already been penned. One morning, as I was unpacking my things, one of the more prolific tunesmiths named Joe approached me looking uncharacteristically sad and vulnerable. “You know Mr. Cleveland,” he said, “I almost didn’t make it this time.” I answered smiling, “Well Joe, you’re on a roll here, so I’m glad you did.” He moved closer. “No man,” he spat out, I’m saying I almost didn’t make it.” This short film explores the moral and ethical implications of tapping into the creative power of vulnerable souls.


Many believe that meeting the challenges of the 21st century will require a revolution of thought and deed—in essence, a new set of stories powerful enough to change beliefs and behaviors. This short film explores the evolution of "story" as an essential aspect of human development and history. Along the way we examine some threshold questions: Where do stories come from; what is their function, and most importantly, what is their power for good or ill?

Background: Over the past few months we have had the privilege of getting to know the extraordinary folks and programs at the Story Center in Berkeley, California. They describe their purpose as creating "spaces for listening and sharing stories, to help build a just and healthy world.” A powerful mission for any period in history but, here and now, if there ever was a critical “change the story, change the world” moment for our fragile planet, this is it. We hope 'Story story', a collaboration with visual artist, Barry Marcus, composer, Judy Munsen and CSA&C’s Bill Cleveland, is one small step in that direction. Check it out.

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