"Looking at stories that are peacemaking stories has been an important part of my work as a storyteller for lo these three decades," Burch said. "So I will be drawing on stories chiefly [from] folk material but also a small number of personal stories collected from my children for instance.
"Stories are meant to help us understand that whatever the triumphs and tragedies there may be in a given culture in a given generation that really we do find ways to step [on] one another's toes every day of our lives before we set out the door of our houses, before we get out of our neighborhoods, before we get out of our communities, before we get out of our countries.
"We do find ways that we interact that aren't always positive. And really any little bit of help we can give one another about how to respond to a difficulty is what these stories are sort of meant to give us -- a chance to psychically rehearse looking at the consequences of certain choices.
"Oral storytelling has always been about how to be human and that's what any given culture tells stories about, whether they are fairy tales, folk tales, personal stories or history stories. It's about whatever the storyteller has learned or has guessed or has dreamed about in terms of living through the human experience."
Following two performances by Burch, the free event also will feature a teen storytelling workshop and arts activities for younger children. Hosted by Bartow Collaborative Family Connection, the community offering is being funded by the Grassroots Arts Program.
"It's a wonderful message for us all to hear today because of the continued economic situation," said Linda Walker, coordinator of Bartow Collaborative. "It's just taken a toll on us all in some form or fashion. When you look at individuals that are cutting back and families not having money left for entertainment ... [the opportunity] to enjoy quality entertainment [for] free is wonderful and then to hear stories of how we can heal the hurts that are within us, whether it's within our own families, our neighborhood, our community, our world."
After helping establish the recently closed Bartow Crossroads Academy, the Bartow Collaborative formed in the late 1990s.
"Our mission is to be a strong community where children are successful in school, and families are stable and self-sufficient," Walker said. "We collect all kinds of statistical data. Then we also have a community assessment to get the opinions and inputs of the community in terms of what are the issues and concerns in Bartow County that adversely affect children and families.
"All of these years, we mostly have concentrated on high school completion, GED attainment, and an assortment of anti-poverty issues, be they housing or connecting with emergency services. ... over the years we have provided about $4 million for start-up or expansion costs for existing programs or new programs to try to address these adverse statistics."
For more information about the upcoming program or Bartow Collaborative, contact Walker at 770-773-7342.