a community & culture building
storytelling class series for white folks
“Stories matter, you see. They’re not just entertainment —
Stories matter because humans are narrative creatures.
It’s not just simply that we like to tell stories, and to listen to them:
it’s that narrative is hard-wired into us.
It’s a function of our biology, and the way our brains have evolved over time.
We make sense of the world and fashion our identities through the sharing and passing on of stories.
And so the stories that we tell ourselves about the world and our place in it,
And the stories that are told to us by others about the world and our place in it,
Shape not just our own lives, but the world around us.
The cultural narrative is the culture.”
— Sharon Blackie
Storytelling is as old as humanity.
Sitting around the fire, your ancestors shared the stories of your people.
Stories of origin.
Stories of celebration.
Stories of warning.
Stories of life.
Stories of the land.
As people racialized as white many of our stories have been forgotten.
Many of our families did not pass down the stories of our ancestors.
Some of the stories were too painful to share.
Some of them were left behind and traded in for whiteness.
Some of the stories romanticized dominance & settler colonialism.
We may not know the stories intellectually.
But they live inside of us.
In our bones.
In our blood.
In our bodies.
There are stories that are asking to be remembered.
There are stories that are asking to be grieved.
There are stories that are asking to be celebrated.
There are stories that are asking to be reconciled.
There are stories that are asking to be brought forward from the shadows.
When we share stories, we remember who we are.
When we share stories, we remember our humanity.
When we share stories, we create bonds.
When we share our stories,
when we're witnessed,
when we're held,
we create community,
we build culture and
we move toward healing.
What stories are asking to be remembered?
What stories are asking to be shared?
What are the stories we want to pass down?
We'll begin by choosing a folk/fairytale, folk character, or god/goddess to build a relationship with over the course of our 6 months together.
Each month we'll focus on a particular story...
March: Opening // where we are now.
April: Birth Stories & Origin Stories // our story & the story of our people.
May: Stories of the Land // the land of our ancestors & the stolen land we live on now.
June: Migration Stories // why did they leave and where did they land?
July: Stories of the Oppressor // what was romanticized? what was kept hidden?
August: Stories of the Future // what are we dreaming into being?
September: Closing Weekend // the journey we took with our chosen folk/fairytale, folk character,
We'll come together each month to share our stories.
To share what we're learning.
To share what we're uncovering.
To share what we're remembering.
We'll honor the many ways stories can be told.
Through movement, poetry, visual art, and oral storytelling.
We'll learn from each other.
We'll hold each other accountable.
We'll see ourselves and our ancestors in other's stories.
We'll honor those who have come before us and those who will come after.
“I am beginning to believe that we know everything,
that all history, including the history of each family, is part of us,
when we hear any secret revealed our lives are made suddenly clearer to us,
as the unnatural heaviness of unspoken truth is dispersed.
For perhaps we are like stones;
our own history and the history of the world embedded in us,
we hold a deep sorrow within and cannot weep until that history is sung."
— Susan Griffin
What Folks are Saying...
"Powerful. Life changing. Necessary, essential work. So many missing puzzle pieces were remembered. Through remembering my ancestors I remembered whole parts of myself I had completely forgotten or lost. The power of storytelling is so real and I hope many others return to its magic."
- Solasta Mac
"Ancestor work is an act of self love. Caring for our ancestors is caring for ourselves and healing the wounds that never got to heal. This is what I discovered in doing this series. Storytelling is deeply healing and a way to honor ourselves, past, present, and a way of carrying ourselves into the future. This class series helped me see that I'm not alone in this work."
- Kirby C
Ancestral Stories is for you if...
you identify as white and are seeking to build culture & community with other anti-racist white folks.
you'd like to deepen into relationship with your ancestors through storytelling.
you want to explore & learn the stories of your people and the land while examining the legacy of whiteness in your ancestors and self.
you have stories that are calling to be shared and witnessed.
“Culture is how our bodies retain and reenact history —
through the foods we eat (or refuse to eat);
the stories we tell;
the things that hold meaning for us;
the images that move us;
what we are able (and unable) to sense or feel or process;
the way we see the world; and a thousand other aspects of life.
Change culture and you can change lives.
You can also change the course of history."
— Resmaa Menakem
6 month class series, meets on the third Sunday* of the month via Zoom.
Sunday, March 20th 2022 through Sunday, September 18th** 2022.
9am - 12pm PST / 12pm - 3pm EST.
Space is limited to 11 participants.
In addition to the monthly class meeting, this offering includes curated readings, podcasts, journal prompts, opportunities for 1:1 support meetings with Erin, and monthly small group (2 to 3 people) meetings.
Registration ends on Thursday, March 17th.
The exchange is $500, 10% of which is donated to a BIPOC led organization TBA.
2 sliding scale spots available.
Please review the dates before submitting an application to make sure you can attend most of the classes; they will not be recorded and attendance is important as we will be sharing our stories in all but the first class.
*we will meet on the 4th Sunday for the month of July (Sunday, July 24th).
**final weekend is Saturday, September 17th and Sunday, September 18th.
About Erin Caitlin Sweeney (she/her or they/them)
I'm a Leo Sun & Aries Rising with a Pisces Moon. I'm a storyteller, plant lover, and dancer. My people come from what is now called Scotland, Ireland, France & Germany. I'm a white person living on Susquehannock and Lenni Lenape land, currently known as Lancaster, PA.
It would not be possible for me to do this work without the centuries-old efforts of Indigenous people and people of African descent on Turtle Island to hold onto & maintain their cultural traditions despite cultural appropriation, colonization, genocide and enslavement. I have deep gratitude for the Indigenous elders who shared this wisdom and taught my teachers, Atava Garcia Swiecicki and Kimmy Johnson, how to connect & build relationship to their ancestors and to Dr. Apela Colorado for stewarding their learning environment. I started studying ancestral healing & remembrance work with Atava & Kimmy while getting my MA in Integrative Health Studies from the California Institute of Integral Studies. I am a forever student committed to the path of healing, of remembering, of unlearning settler-colonialism & (the delusion of) white bodied supremacy. I offer this work from a place of deep humility and gratitude. I offer this work because it is the foundation on which I stand. I offer this work because I fundamentally believe in it.