Mary Alice Arthur
I grew up as the oldest daughter of two teachers. I got hooked on stories from the first moment I saw a book. I was the kid who kept reading after lights out and walked to school reading two books at once (fortunately, I grew up in a flat place!). During school holidays the family piled into the car and took to the roads, and that gave me an itchy foot. Before long I was 17 and being an exchange student gave me my first taste of the wider world. The stage was set for a love of wondering coupled with a delight in wandering — the ideal attributes for a Story Activist and a self-professed citizen of the world.
Working with an international student organization taught me the power of working across diversity. I learned about the compelling nature of purpose, the importance of a spark of vision and the power of cohesive practice. I began to think -- and work -- around the world.
I caught the story bug in earnest in the early ’90s while living in New Zealand. It happened at the first international storytelling festival. That was the moment when I saw the power of storytelling for the first time and I started hanging out in the library gathering as many stories as I could. I performed as as storyteller, but I soon realized I wanted to hear other's voices more than just my own. There seemed to be something important in sharing stories and working with them. That's why I was part of the first gatherings of organizational storytelling practitioners a decade later.
At the same time I was honing my craft as a facilitator, working with everyone from the Treasury and government departments to volunteer organizations. I worked to connect teams, support groups to get strategic, I even facilitated a successful telecomunications merger. In 2007 I found out about the Art of Hosting. Then one day I met a futurist at a conference who told me one of the top upcoming trends would be "leader as storyteller" and I began to dream of the day my process work and my love of stories would unite.
Now I join StoryWork with a leading edge skill in using participatory practice to help groups become high performing communities, able to step up, co-create a compelling story, and from it, wise sustained action. These days I work around the world with leaders in all levels of public and private organisations and communities. As an international steward of the Art of Hosting network, I teach storyworking skills and participatory practice, and host participatory gatherings all over the globe.
I am sometimes at home in Columbus, Ohio and a lot on the road.