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Storytelling for Sutra

Acorders ask what ties bind you to yourself and others? How do you source, grow and use your perspective?

Today's story weaves multi-generational wisdom and unique perspectives together. A single thread binds all the archetype personas in Hada Kage's journey. Sutras were historically a collection of ancient and medieval Indian literature, representing faith perspectives from Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism.

"In Sanskrit, sutra means "thread," and traditional ancient literary

sutras attempted to weave knowledge, threadlike, around and into

their few simple words or syllables."

Wikipedia's page for Sutra is nicely referenced and explains the origin of the word. Sutras were a literary tool used for spreading and promoting oral proverbs. The intent was to deliver a concise message, easily carried within the mind of the oral narrator, to be elaborated on, emphasizing whatever was most concerning or most interesting for a live audience.

The Myth

One of the Myths of Innovation observes that we place far too much emphasis on flash moments of breakthroughs with ideas. We don't appreciate or invest enough analysis into the underlying conditions and events that led to those moments. Acorders prompts storytellers to seed a balanced ecosystem with Hada Kage. Be the light that gives form and color to a blank space. Today, Hada adds a thread of Christian perspective to the body of work of Sutra.

The Story

When I was born, I was blessed with 7-living grandmas and great-grandmothers. Each one was a variety of fascination for me. Each lived incredible lives and did inspiring feats. Many hours were spent in my youth visiting with them and listening to their stories. Like many middle-class Americans of the 20th century, whose families experienced multi-generational migrations, my upbringing was a woven tapestry of various Christian traditions. Nora and Birdie were my Baptist great-grandmas. Nora was the mother of my father's father. Birdie was the mother of my mother's mother.

It happened to be that I spent a lot of time growing up with them both. Of all my great-grandmas, they were the most preoccupied with my education and the formation of my character. They offered me detailed instructions on everything from having a career, who to marry, and how to be in the world. They were from two different states, Georgia and Texas. I remember as a child, the differences in their culture seemed so pronounced. Beyond them sharing me as a granddaughter, I never imagined there was a connection in their backstories.

Nora was a talented mathematician and a keen observer. During my college years, over coffee and pecan cookies, she delighted me with lessons learned from running her various businesses. It astonished me how much she had achieved. Born in 1921, she was the daughter of poor migrant workers who moved between rural regions of North Carolina and Georgia. Like Birdie, Nora was a single mother of two small children in the Post-WWII era.

One day she explained it to me,

"Hada, people like me, in my day, we were not guaranteed an

opportunity to attend school and earn a high-school education. I

applied myself, studied hard, and made a good impression on the

school administration. They helped me gain a scholarship so I

could specialize in Accounting and earn my diploma."

Nora was enterprising. She served in a full value stream of professional services for small business owners in her community. She also partnered with an Architect who liked working with her. People from all over Georgia sought him out to custom build their homes. Nora would come in with every ability to develop his business. From buying the land to construction loans and home mortgages, she helped him close deals. Nora would then take leads from that business and offer additional tax and accounting services to the Architect's clients.

Asked how she made her way in business, Nora quickly expressed faith in provisions and knowing how to read people. She added, "Grandma taught me the ways. You know, she could read and use the elements within a landscape. I used the same, scanning and observing techniques. I turned my attention to economics and people. I tracked money like grandma tracked animals and then observed ways to create value that would capture it. I did it the same way that Grandma set traps or aimed her a bow and arrow."

Rose was Nora's grandma, at just 7 years old, she found herself separated from her mother and father. The oral histories she left our family entailed how she used the wisdom of her people to aid and inform her. One and two generations before Rose, they saw the Indian Removal Act go into effect in 1830, and the Trail of Tears that followed. Her family managed to evade capture by hiding and living in the wilderness of the Smoky Mountains.

Before the Trail of Tears, "Elder" Humphrey Posey (1780 - 1846), the Baptist minister and missionary, founded the Valley Town School in North Carolina. Baptists like "Elder" Humphrey Posey went against the conventional thinking of their day. In 1879, Captain R.H. Pratt opened the first Indian Boarding School in Pennsylvania and coined the phrase, "Kill the Indian, save the man."

The Baptist Missionaries who worked with Posey had a real love for the Cherokee. Early Baptists in America believed a person needed to be free from the confines and echelons of high society to receive the truth and wisdom provided by the Holy Spirit. In 1821 the Cherokee scholar, Sequoyah documented the Cherokee Language with a written alphabet. The Valley Town School adopted it for use with academic lessons and vocational training. The school was a unique space where Cherokee learned and lived in continuity with their own cultural identity. Valley Town School is known to have produced at least three of the minds, Peter Oganaya, John Wickliff, and James Wafford, who led resistance to Cherokee removal and who later formed the Eastern Band of Cherokee in North Carolina.

Resultant of the Valley Town School legacy, Nora was a Baptist who understood her Christian faith did not require a separation or conversion away from her Cherokee identity. One Sunday, when I was six years old, I heard that people who did not know Jesus would not make it to heaven. I remember being scared for so many people around the world. I went to Nora in tears, "what is going to happen to all the people who don't speak English ''. She sighed and took me in her arms, putting my head on her chest. I could hear her heart beating. She replied,

"Angel Baby, don't you worry. I'm sure that God has a plan for all of his

people around the world. You take the Indians from Asia, I am sure

they have something special figured out with the Lord."

Her words fell with certainty and authority, and she didn't bother to fill in the blanks. I was so desperate for comfort that I didn't ask more questions. Years later after both great-grandmas were gone, I discovered my family history and the multi-generational ties binding Nora and Birdie together. It turned out that Birdie was a direct descendent from "Elder" Humphrey Posey (1780 - 1846). Growing up, I attended Baptist services with both grandmas. My favorite hymn was Blessed Be the Tie that Binds. Today, I feel like these women were binding me into a fellowship, generations in the making.

Nora comprehended an openness and a mystery in her faith. I believe that she invited me to think more universally about “the ties that bind us", encouraging me to find Sutras. Nora was gifted with sight. She had a way of looking upon people and reading their intentions, their background, and where they were standing at a moment in time. She called it knowing someone “bone-deep”. She acquired her knowledge of the Indian people of Asia out of natural curiosity. She said, “I had to understand. I wanted to know about the people Columbus confused us for.” She was elated over their modern-day Constitution and found reverence in the story. Hada you know, “the Framers of the U.S. Constitution modeled checks and balances of power for our Republic after the Iroquois nation. Then Indians in Asia modeled their Constitution after the U.S.." I think it pleased her to think about the gifting of ideas between people.

The Impact

Today, I too strive to know people “bone-deep” like Nora. My career in the industrial supply chain of Energy Technology has afforded me opportunities to travel. I am fortunate to have worked with talented people, from diverse backgrounds, around the world. There is something about designing and building a massive piece of machinery, then sending it across the globe to serve energy markets, that evokes for me, a sense of connectivity with people. Creating the storytelling prompts for Acorders, inspired the writing exercises that profiled my influencers as archetypes. The storytelling series naturally evolved, walking backward from recalling moments in my career to my youth and childhood. My backstory came forward by weaving the threads that linked these experiences together. Coming through this, I want to experiment with other storytellers.

The big questions

What creative responses can the Acorders storytelling curriculum inspire? Will others who follow this curriculum be able to bring their backstories into the fold? What other unimaginable outcomes and creations can come from working through these prompts? With emotional storytelling forming coherent backstories, will people be able to use the common experiences with the Acorders prompts to form ties that bind their stories together for purpose and impact? And lastly, what can this offer the innovation value chain?

Join our community and participate in the design process with us. Acorders is building a digital experience for storytellers of impact. We invite you to discover your archetype and place it on a path with us. Much like the "Choose Your Own Adventure" books of the 1990s, Acorders will prompt an individual to tell their story and align it with others in an ensemble.

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