Crafting & Using Stories that Challenge the Status Quo:
A Transformational Retreat for Nonprofit Storytellers

Thursday, September 19, 2019 • 9 am - 5:30 pm • Bread Loaf Mountain Campus, Ripton VT

Check-in at Bread Loaf will begin at 9:00 am and the keynote will start promptly at 9:30 am. Following morning and afternoon breakout sessions, we’ll all gather for a Happy Hour at 4:15 and wrap-up by 5:30 pm.

Whether you’ve just started out as a storyteller, you’ve mastered the basics, or you’re a seasoned expert, you won’t want to miss the 2019 Vermont Story Lab Summit!  Learn how to craft compelling stories for your organization or project. Then take the next step of framing those powerful vignettes into cohesive narratives that motivate people to act. Take a day at the idyllic Bread Loaf campus of Middlebury College with some of Vermont’s finest nonprofit communicators and reflect upon how you’re doing.

  • Pick up new story techniques to evolve your toolbox.

  • Build a unified narrative for your project or org.

  • Bask in excellent storytelling examples you can emulate.

  • Learn to tell stories that support values of diversity, inclusion and equity.

  • Bring your sidekick or team to build a culture of storytelling.

  • Flesh out new story ideas that push the status quo.

  • Rest your weary storytelling self with some restorative time.

  • Meet folks from across the state who love story as much as you do!

Crafting & Using Stories that Challenge the Status Quo

We’ll be guided by Emmy-nominated producer, documentary filmmaker and journalist, Sarah Astaire Springer, of Los Angeles. She will focus on the theme, “Crafting and Using Story to Challenge the Status Quo.” Breakout labs will follow her morning and afternoon keynotes where we get to practice and learn from one another.

Sarah began her career at CNN where she reported stories about race and identity in America with Soledad O’Brien’s “In America” series and has since worked as a producer for ABC’s Good Morning America, CBS/60 Minutes and VICE Media. Additionally, she oversaw creative direction and production for immersive, branded and linear series for RYOT Media in New York and Los Angeles.

Currently, Sarah works as a creative director and producer in unscripted and scripted development for production companies and labs on the East and West coasts. She was voted one of the 28 most powerful black people in media by Blavity, and serves on the leadership council of an organization composed of more than 100 media leaders. She promotes inclusion in the media space through Advocates for Inclusion in Media, an organization she co-founded that works to create safe environments, community and advocacy for underrepresented people in the industry.

Morning Labs: Meeting Your Objectives

Storytelling can have many different objectives. Maybe you’re hoping to buy your own building, start a new program, find new volunteers, or pass legislation. Breakout sessions will begin at the intersection of innovative strategies and specific objectives to give you all the inspiration you need to craft a story that works for your mission. We aim to include topics such as:

  • Fundraising
  • Awareness
  • Advocacy
  • Event promotion
  • Grant writing
  • Community building
  • Internal storytelling (getting your team on the same page)

Lunch -- Healthy food and opportunity to network with 200+ storytellers!

Afternoon Labs: Getting the Stories Out

As with most things, the media landscape is both constantly changing and always the same. So how do we know which are the most effective platforms to get our stories out into the world? Our afternoon sessions offer a new way to look at media (everything from Front Porch Forum to YouTube to your local art gallery) and creative ideas to integrate one coherent story across many different platforms. We hope to include:

  • Video
  • Photography
  • Going live on social media
  • Community/local media
  • Oral storytelling
  • Thought leadership
  • Educational/programming based storytelling
  • Food/music/culture connections
  • Art-based storytelling

Happy Hour and Q & A with Sarah Astaire Springer

One of the most valued takeaways from our Summits are the connections folks make with storytellers from across the state. Join us for a relaxed Happy Hour featuring an intimate Q & A with our keynote speaker, Sarah Astaire Springer. Whether you’re a networking extrovert, or a 1:1 introvert, give yourself a chance to explore personal connections that will help you return to work encouraged, refreshed, and ready to create change.

Register Today!

We WILL sell out, so don’t wait. As is our practice at VSL, we promise to deliver a day that is hands-on, interactive, experimental, pushing the envelope, and chock full of new story forms and excellent examples from Vermont nonprofits and beyond.

The Summit welcomes nonprofit leaders and communicators, grassroots activists, faith-based groups, state agencies, and individuals interested in developing their storytelling capabilities. We plan to offer a wide range of content that challenges storytellers at all levels of experience.

Registration fee is $75.

Bread Loaf Campus of Middlebury College


The Bread Loaf campus is a 20-minute drive from Middlebury in the Green Mountains. The GPS location found in most Internet map tools is 4229 Route 125, Ripton, Vermont 05766 NOTE: Bread Loaf campus is ­not near Middlebury main campus.


Most buildings are within walking distance of the center of campus. Parking is available next to the main Barn and in the private driveways of the outer houses. Parking on Route 125 is strongly discouraged for safety reasons.

The Vermont Story Lab Summit is supported by grants from the Vermont Community Foundation, The Fountain Fund and anonymous donors.