Ally Karsyn is the founder, producer and host of Ode, a live storytelling series where community members tell true stories on stage to promote positive impact through empathy. Each event is recorded for broadcast on Siouxland Public Media, the NPR member station in Sioux City, Iowa, where she is the arts producer and afternoon host. Karsyn is a former features reporter and columnist for the Sioux City Journal. She received the 2016 Genevieve Mauck Stoufer Outstanding Young Iowa Journalists Award and the 2016 Jay P. Wagner Prize for Young Journalists from the Iowa Newspaper Association.
Project Description: Ode is set in a mid-sized Midwestern city that’s better known for its meatpacking plants than a vibrant creative community, and yet, this theatre-meets-therapy type of journalistic entertainment has thrived here. Ally tells prospective storytellers that they don’t need to be professional writers, performers or public speakers to participate. Her fellowship further developed this series with strong, first-person stories, giving special attention to a June event, themed “Stigmas: An ode to the power of opening up.” She worked with six storytellers, seeking diverse voices that represent immigrants, minorities and those touched by mental health conditions, as well as voices of those who have made alternative life choices like remaining childfree by choice.
In her own words: “I’m proud of the people who put themselves in a vulnerable position and step on stage to tell intimate stories about their lives. Getting a better grasp on telling restorative narratives is vital to the continuance and success of Ode. I must be able to guide potential storytellers in a direction that honors their story in a meaningful way when they can’t find the words to put on a page. With training from the ivoh fellowship, I want to empower more people in my community to own their struggles and perceived flaws from a place of authenticity, hope and strength. Because I believe the most important story is the one you tell yourself.”