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04.03.24 | Arts & Culture

Ta-Nehisi Coates: Mastering the Art of Storytelling Through Reflection and Reality

In the rich landscape of contemporary storytelling, few voices are as compelling and influential as that of Ta-Nehisi Coates. As part of our ongoing exploration into the art of storytelling, Sage Collective is delighted to spotlight Coates, a writer who masterfully weaves together narratives of race, identity, and the American experience with both grace and unflinching honesty. Coates’ work not only captivates readers but also invites profound reflection on the society we inhabit and the changes we aspire to see.

A Voice for Our Times
Ta-Nehisi Coates emerged as a powerful voice in American literature and journalism through his thought-provoking essays and books. His ability to articulate complex issues related to race and society has made him a pivotal figure in national conversations about racism, democracy, and historical memory. Coates’s writing is characterized by its depth of insight, lyrical quality, and the personal perspective he brings to bear on topics of public concern.

The Beautiful Struggle: A Personal Odyssey
In The Beautiful Struggle, Coates offers a vivid glimpse into his formative years in Baltimore, navigating the complexities of boyhood within the broader context of racial and economic strife. This memoir is not only a tale of personal growth and familial bonds but also a reflection on the broader struggle for Black identity and liberation. Coates’ relationship with his father, a figure steeped in the legacy of the Black Panther movement, serves as a powerful narrative thread, illustrating the impact of history and activism on individual lives.

Between the World and Me: An Intimate Letter
Between the World and Me expands Coates’ exploration of America’s racial history through a deeply personal lens, structured as a letter to his teenage son. This work captures the fears, hopes, and realities of being Black in America, weaving personal narrative with historical analysis. Coates’ use of the epistolary form creates an intimate conversation on race, identity, and the quest for understanding in a country marked by systemic injustice.

The Water Dancer: Merging Fiction with History
Coates’ foray into fiction with his debut novel, The Water Dancer, further cements his status as a versatile and imaginative storyteller. The novel combines historical elements with magical realism to tell a captivating story of slavery and resistance in the antebellum South. Through the eyes of his protagonist, Hiram Walker, Coates explores themes of memory, freedom, and the unbreakable bonds of family. The Water Dancer showcases Coates’ skill in creating rich, immersive worlds that illuminate the struggles and resilience of the human spirit.

We Were Eight Years in Power: Reflecting on an Era
In We Were Eight Years in Power, Coates assembles a collection of essays that chronicle the Obama presidency’s significance against the backdrop of America’s racial landscape. The title, echoing a lament from the Reconstruction era, frames the book as a meditation on the cyclical nature of racial progress and backlash in American history. Through essays that examine the cultural and political implications of Obama’s presidency and the subsequent rise of Donald Trump, Coates offers a critical analysis of the forces that shape American society and the ongoing struggle for racial justice.

Across his works, Coates’ storytelling artistry lies in his ability to blend the deeply personal with the sweepingly historical. His narratives invite readers into a space of reflection, challenging them to consider the intricate tapestry of American identity and the indelible impact of race on the nation’s conscience. Through his incisive analysis, lyrical prose, and unflinching honesty, Coates has crafted a body of work that is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the complexities of contemporary America.

As we celebrate Ta-Nehisi Coates’ contributions to the art of storytelling, we are reminded of the power of literature to illuminate the darkest corners of society, to heal, and to inspire change. His voice is a clarion call for awareness, empathy, and action — a testament to the enduring strength of the written word to move hearts and minds.

TA-NEHISI_COATES
Ta-Nehisi Coates at The Anthology of Rap, 92YTribeca. Photo: 92YTribeca, Flickr Creative Commons, CC BY-NC 2.0 Deed
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12.28.23 | Community

2023: A Year in Review

As we bid farewell to another remarkable year, we at Sage Collective are thrilled to share the highlights of 2023, a year marked by innovation, growth, and deeper connections within our community.

Continued Success of the Vibrant Learning Program

Our journey with the Vibrant Learning Program, in collaboration with Chicago Commons, has flourished throughout 2023. This year, we’ve deepened our relationship with the community, witnessing firsthand the transformative power of learning and engagement. From exploring the intricacies of new technologies to delving into diverse cultures, our program participants have embarked on an enriching journey.

Themes of tradition, storytelling, family connection, and freedom have remained at the heart of our curriculum. Our activities, including armchair travel and digital painting, have not only been educational but also immensely enjoyable, fostering a sense of joy and wonder among all participants.

Expanding Our Horizons

2023 was a milestone year for Sage Collective as we embraced innovative ways to connect with our audience. One of our most exciting initiatives was the integration of Facebook Live into our communication strategy. This platform allowed us to reach new digital audiences and strengthen ties with our existing community.

Our Facebook Live sessions, focusing on updates about Sage Collective’s activities, healthy eating discussions, and more, garnered significant engagement. The enthusiastic response from our audience has been truly inspiring, and we eagerly anticipate continuing these interactive sessions in the coming year.

Looking Ahead: The Vibrant Living Podcast

In our constant effort to innovate and inspire, we are excited to announce the upcoming launch of our ‘Vibrant Living Podcast’ in the new year. Building on the themes explored in our Sage Advice blog, this podcast will dive deeper into the power of storytelling. We believe that stories have the ability to connect, heal, and empower, and our podcast will be a testament to this belief. Stay tuned for this exciting new venture!

As we reflect on the year gone by, we feel immense gratitude for the continued support and enthusiasm of our community. The journey of Sage Collective is one of continuous learning and growth, and we can’t wait to see what the new year brings. Here’s to a vibrant and fulfilling 2024!

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12.21.23 | Arts & Culture

The Art of Storytelling: Ava DuVernay

In our celebration of the art of storytelling, it’s impossible to overlook the profound impact of Ava DuVernay, a filmmaker who has redefined the landscape of American cinema. At Sage Collective, we not only appreciate storytelling in its traditional forms but also how it transcends into different mediums, like film, to evoke emotion, inspire change, and challenge perspectives.

Ava DuVernay, an American filmmaker, and director, has become a household name, known for her powerful storytelling that often centers on social issues, particularly those affecting the Black community. Her work is a testament to the power of film as a medium for storytelling, shedding light on pivotal but often overlooked aspects of history and contemporary society.

DuVernay’s journey in the film industry is one of resilience and perseverance. Initially working as a publicist, DuVernay transitioned into writing, producing, and directing. Her early works set the stage for what would become a career marked by impactful storytelling. It was her second feature film, “Middle of Nowhere,” that won her the Best Director Prize at the Sundance Film Festival in 2012, making her the first Black woman to win this award.

One of DuVernay’s most notable works is “Selma” (2014), a historical drama about the 1965 Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches led by Martin Luther King Jr. and other prominent figures. The film was not just a retelling of history; it was a resonant, powerful piece that connected past struggles to contemporary social issues.

Another significant work is the documentary “13th” (2016), which explored the intersection of race, justice, and mass incarceration in the United States. Through this documentary, DuVernay brought to light how inequality and racial injustice have been systematically embedded into the fabric of American society.

DuVernay’s work extends beyond the screen. She has been instrumental in advocating for diversity and inclusion in Hollywood, both in front of and behind the camera. Her commitment to these causes is evident in her work with ARRAY, a film collective dedicated to amplifying the voices of people of color and women filmmakers.

Ava DuVernay’s approach to storytelling aligns with the core values we hold dear at Sage Collective. Her work reminds us that stories have the power to effect change, connect us, and deepen our understanding of the human experience. DuVernay’s artistry in film inspires us to look at stories not just as a form of entertainment, but as a vehicle for enlightenment, empathy, and empowerment.

Ava DuVernay
Ava DuVernay
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10.26.23 | Arts & Culture

5 More Books You Have to Read This Fall

With autumn back again, there’s no better time to dive back into the art of reading. Last year, we recommended 5 books to enhance your fall reading, and this time around, we’re back with five more. Our selection this season includes captivating memoirs, enthralling collections of stories, and thought-provoking manifestos. These literary treasures are your passport to new worlds, fresh perspectives, and endless inspiration. So, let’s dive into this season’s must-reads:

How to Say Babylon, Safiya Sinclair

How to Say Babylon, Safiya Sinclair

Found on nearly everyone’s fall book list, How to Say Babylon is a story that resonates deeply with our values at Sage Collective. Sinclair’s memoir illustrates a powerful story of a young Jamaican girl, who, even through a life of strict abuse, discovers her voice and the power of sharing her story. For anyone who loves a tale of liberation and one rich in moving storytelling, this is the book for you.

Everything I Learned, I Learned in a Chinese Restaurant, Curtis Chin

Everything I Learned, I Learned in a Chinese Restaurant, Curtis Chin

In another recently acclaimed memoir, Curtis Chin shares his experience growing up as a gay Chinese American in 1980’s Detroit. The memoir is filled with laughs, heartfelt moments and vivid memories of Chin’s past. For anyone who holds an appreciation to the community around them and belief in its power to shape us throughout life, this should be at the top of your list. 

Our Strangers: Stories, Lydia Davis

Our Strangers: Stories, Lydia Davis

Author Lydia Davis’ latest collection of short fiction stories poetically explores a variety of topics from marriage to what we put in our coffee. Anyone who loves the ability to revisit the same story a handful of times and with each time, coming out with a new perspective will appreciate Our Strangers: Stories. And in a move to support small businesses, the book is only available to purchase form online independent retailers and bookstores. 

To Free The Captives, Tracy K. Smith

To Free The Captives, Tracy K. Smith

Smith bluntly shares her views on where the state of the Nation is in her latest novel. Exploring every topic from the pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement in 2020 to her own experience as a Black woman, mother and educator in the 21st century, she presents a manifesto on how our country could come to a new, shared perspective of recent history. 

Wednesday’s Child, Yiyun Li

Wednesday’s Child, Yiyun Li

Award winning Author, Yiyun Li explores the unexplainable feelings of aging, alienation and grief in her latest collection of stories. Each piece, previously published as singular works by The New Yorker, Zoetrope and other publications over a span of a decade, shares a different perspective on the cost of living. 

Whether you prefer reading alone, with a companion or in a book club, don’t hesitate to pick one or two of these books up for yourself this fall. You can find them at your neighborhood libraries, local bookstore or online. And as with all good reads, spread the word to friends and family when you finish a book you really love!

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10.12.23 | Arts & Culture

The Art of Storytelling: Nat King Cole

At Sage Collective, we’re all about the stories that shape our lives, and when an artist like Nat King Cole pours his heart into his music, it’s impossible not to be drawn in. Cole, with his smooth voice and heartfelt storytelling, teaches us invaluable lessons in the art of expression.

Cole’s storytelling prowess comes from a place of genuine authenticity. Take his iconic song “Unforgettable,” for instance. It’s not just a love song; it’s a moving tale of love’s enduring power. It’s a reminder that the most potent storytelling springs from the heart, conveying the raw, unfiltered truth of our experiences.

One thing that sets Cole apart is his ability to turn personal stories into something universal. Whether he’s singing about love, heartbreak, or everyday life, his songs resonate with people from all walks of life. Cole shows us the magic of finding the threads that connect our individual experiences to the larger tapestry of humanity.

While Amanda Gorman uses poetry, Cole does it through music. His songs like “Mona Lisa” and “The Christmas Song” enchant with their rhythms and reflective lyrics. When sharing your own story, consider adding a touch of the poetic. It’s not about composing verses but using language in an artful way to add depth and emotion to your narrative, just as Cole did with his timeless melodies.

Nat King Cole’s work isn’t just about beautiful music; it’s about stories that make a difference. Songs like “Nature Boy” and “Smile” carry messages of love, empathy, and hope. These narratives aren’t relics of the past; they’re catalysts for inspiring change. Cole teaches us that our stories can foster empathy, understanding, and action. Through storytelling, you too can inspire others and ignite transformation, just as he did with his timeless classics.

Exploring storytelling through Nat King Cole’s music reveals narratives that capture the essence of the human experience. Taking a page from his book, let’s believe that our stories, told with authenticity and purpose, have the potential to touch and change lives, just as his music has done for generations.

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08.10.23 | Arts & Culture

The Art of Storytelling: Maya Angelou

At Sage Collective, we hold dear the voices that share tales of human spirit, challenges, and victories. Among these, Maya Angelou stands tall, with her stories resonating through time, offering glimpses of her life and the wider journey. Through Angelou, we gain a fresh perspective on the art of storytelling.

Bearing Witness to Life’s Highs and Lows

Like Gorman, the power of Angelou’s tales comes from her genuine honesty. “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” tells of the difficulties she faced, from facing prejudice to personal pain. Yet, she chose to openly share, lighting the way for countless silent stories. By sharing her struggles, she magnifies her successes, showing us that every part of our journey matters. Every story, whether personal or broad, has a universal echo. Through Angelou, we connect with emotions and experiences that touch hearts worldwide.

A Dance of Words and Rhythm

Angelou’s writing draws us in, but her poetry is where her words truly dance. Poems like “Still I Rise” and “Phenomenal Woman” enchant with their rhythmic flow and uplifting messages. When shaping your story, let Angelou inspire you. Fill your narrative with rhythm and emotion, creating an experience rather than just a tale.

Driving Forward With Purpose

A defining trait of Angelou’s work is its clear intent. She didn’t just share life moments; she shared lessons. “Still I Rise” isn’t just her journey—it’s a rallying cry for the oppressed. She shows that stories can do more than entertain; they can ignite change. When you write, know that your words have the power to move hearts and minds.

Lessons from Angelou on Storytelling

Angelou’s storytelling imparts wisdom beyond the narrative. She teaches us the importance of authenticity—stories need to come from a place of truth. She reminds us to embrace both pain and joy, as both are essential parts of the human experience. Moreover, her work emphasizes the need for stories to have a purpose, a message that drives them forward.

In wrapping up, exploring storytelling through Angelou’s eyes reveals tales that mirror shared hopes, challenges, and dreams. Taking a leaf from her book, let’s believe that our stories, grounded in truth and purpose, can touch and change lives.

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07.13.23 | Arts & Culture

What Amanda Gorman Teaches Us About Storytelling

At Sage Collective, we’re all about those personal journeys and the stories they create. And when someone like Amanda Gorman uses her talent to share those journeys, it’s impossible not to sit up and take notice. Gorman, with her poignant words and masterful storytelling, has offered us some great lessons on expression.

Telling Your Truth with Boldness

Gorman’s work brings forth an essential aspect of storytelling: raw, unfiltered honesty. A great example of this is her inaugural poem, “The Hill We Climb,” where she candidly paints the picture of a nation divided, and uses this as a canvas to craft a vision of unity and resilience. It’s more than a reflection on America’s political scene—it’s an intensely personal story of hope and unwavering determination. This courageous sharing of her perspective is a reminder for us all: the bumpy roads on our journey deserve as much recognition as our triumphs.

One thing that sets Gorman’s storytelling apart is her knack for weaving her personal stories into universal narratives. Despite being rooted in specific experiences, her stories strike a chord worldwide— a testament to the shared human experience we all are a part of.

So, when you’re sharing your story, remember, your unique journey is part of the much larger, grand tapestry of human life. Seek those threads that tie your personal experiences to the bigger narratives.

Harnessing the Power of Poetry

Gorman’s “The Hill We Climb” also highlights the compelling allure of poetry in storytelling. The rhythmic cadence, vivid imagery, and intricate metaphors all come together to create a concise, yet deeply moving expression of her experiences and emotions.

When sharing your story, don’t hesitate to employ a touch of the poetic. It’s not about composing verses, but more about using language in an artful way to add layers and richness to your narrative.

Inspiring Change Through Storytelling

What truly makes Gorman’s work stand out is how it transcends the beauty of language; each poem, each story, is a call to action. “The Hill We Climb” is more than just a reflection of the present—it’s a clarion call for a better tomorrow. In this, Gorman teaches us that our stories aren’t just relics of the past, but catalysts for inspiring change. By sharing your experiences, you too can foster empathy, understanding, and even trigger action. Your story holds the power to inspire others and spark transformation.

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12.29.22 | Community

2022: A Year in Review

2022 was a year of growth for Sage Collective as we continued evolving and celebrating exciting milestones. Today, we’re reflecting on the past year and sharing our proudest achievements:

Vibrant Learning Program

Throughout 2022, we were able to continue strengthening our close relationship with Chicago Commons, another long-standing trailblazer for change in the community. Building upon our past work, we excitedly launched our Vibrant Learning Program with Chicago Commons Adult Day Services in late February, which continues to be a resounding success. 

For the past eight months, our team has had the privilege to get to know program participants and help grow their understanding of everything from new technology to different cultures. Learning themes touched on traditions, storytelling, family connection and freedom, and engaging activities included armchair travel and digital painting. 

Expanding Our Team

Along with the launch of our programming, we warmly welcomed new team members throughout the year. Leading the Vibrant Living Program, DeShunn Bray brought with her an impressive passion for forming rich connections with others and making a significant impact on the communities in which she interacts as our Manager of Programming and Community Engagement. Her amazing energy is something both our team and the participants in our Vibrant Living Program cherish. 

We also welcomed Camille Love as one of our newest Board Members. The transition of long-time member Angela Higginbotham from our Board created such an opportunity for Camille and added to the related expertise of Sage Collective as it pursues ways of encouraging the adoption of healthier lifestyle choices among older adults in underserved communities. 

We can’t wait to continue sharing this journey with you and see what 2023 brings!

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03.31.22 | Arts & Culture

The Art of Storytelling & Why You Should Share Your Story

At Sage Collective, we believe that everyone should feel empowered to express their unique voice. Storytelling is one of the best ways to do so while supporting vibrant living, and, has the power to inspire those exposed to it. Today, we’re highlighting the value behind the art of storytelling and why you shouldn’t hesitate from sharing your own story.

The art of storytelling is a valuable tool used by numerous cultures across the world for thousands of years. Throughout history, humans have found various ways to translate their emotions and experiences through ever-changing forms of communication. From cave drawings to spoken word to cinematography, there are countless ways we have been able to tell our stories.  

Finding Your Voice

As we’ve mentioned, sharing your story is a powerful tool that can heal trauma, create empathy, and even help those exposed to it. However, before you can tell your story, you must find your voice.

You might be asking what this means. In simple terms, discovering your voice means that you know the value behind your story. You want others to be able to hear what you want to say, and through this desire, confidence rises, and you are allowed more freedom to express yourself through whatever means. 

Finding your unique voice and sharing your story can be a daunting but rewarding challenge. One of the best ways of articulating your story is through writing or journaling. Writing is a powerful form of self-expression and allows you to communicate your voice through written word. If writing isn’t your forte, try drawing or even scribbling. 

No matter what method you use for storytelling, it’s key to remember that your voice matters. Continue to listen to yourself, be authentic and look for meaning in everything you do. You have the right to express yourself, and by doing so, you could have the power to inspire others. 

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