Category Archives: Student Groups

FEATURE INTERVIEW: The Scoop on Storytold

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“STORYTOLD: Your Stories. Our Words”

Perhaps you’ve heard this tagline, perhaps you haven’t. Either way, it catches your eye on first glance, and combined with an awesome logo (see above) makes you pretty damn curious about the new-ish student org “Storytold.

At Middlebury, we’re always telling stories — how we got here, what we want to do with our lives, how to deal with living in an arctic tundra, why we’re in love with a Proctor Crush we’ve never met, how to cure cancer, you get the picture. Think about it: whenever we chat with friends, family, or ourselves we’re constantly creating narratives to describe our lives and the world around us. In this sense, stories consume our conscious and unconscious minds all day every day — and to my fellow lit majors/lovers, well, good luck to you and the Red Sox.

Point is, we tell and listen to stories to survive: it’s a human instinct, and we undoubtedly enjoy the process. However, among the crazy hustle that is Middlebury College we rarely have the time or motivation to get those stories on paper (or a Word Doc, sigh). Thankfully, that’s where Storytold comes in.

Storytold is “a serial, personalized fiction service for anyone who has struggled to find a certain kind of book or story, for anyone who has ever thought, “I wish someone would write about…” Basically, it’s a group of super creative, writing-inclined students here to make us happy, tell our stories, and let us read them: to “make our dreams a reality,” nonetheless. It’s like Seamless for stories except free and better. What more could we ask?

Storytold started up this year, and has hit the ground running. Because this kind of thing has a tendency to get a bit “niche-y,” we story-lovers at middbeat decided it’s crucial to spread the word on Storytold a bit wider. We’ve interviewed Storytold co-founder Ben Mansky ’15, and we’re excited to give you the scoop. Read up below, request a story here, and if you’re interested, join the Storytold team! They’re always looking for writers, designers, illustrators, and other interested persons, and feel free to show up to their weekly meeting, held each Wednesday at 9:15 PM in Chateau 107! Also check out Storytold on Twitter (@storytold1), Facebook, and at their website (go/storytold), it’s really cool, .

MB: So, simply said, what is Storytold?

BM: At its simplest, Storytold is a personalized, serial fiction service. What does that actually mean? It means that people ask us for stories, and we deliver. Like, we literally deliver the specific stories they ask for to their mailboxes in a series of hard-copy installments.

MB: Where did the idea and inspiration for Storytold come from?

BM: It was the natural conclusion of years and years of geeking out over the ridiculous variety of ways people have managed to construct a piece of fiction. Inspiration came from so many different sources, expected and unexpected.  On the expected end, there’s an endless number of books, the indie video game industry, choose-your-own-adventures, and new interactive and alternative fiction platforms including Twine, Inform, and StoryNexus. On the less expected side of things, it came from food. I was working on a design for a fast food restaurant, and the idea of prepackaged vs. made-to-order had been stewing in my mind for a little while. Somehow, I made the leap to fiction. I figured books are currently served pre-packaged, but there’s no reason they couldn’t be made-to-order.

MB: Who’s in charge of Storytold, and how is it run? Who’s writing these stories?

BM: I suppose I’m in charge (along with help from our treasurer), though our writers do most of the work. Now that we’re officially a student org, we’ll be electing a third co-president for next semester. The group meets each week to check up on story progress, bounce around ideas on individual installments, do some peer editing and package pieces for delivery. Stories are delivered every other week so as to give the writers plenty of time to produce quality content while allowing our clients plenty of time to read. The stories are written by a group of approximately six or seven students who are passionate about storytelling, with a wide range in terms of year, major, and prior experience–we even have a couple of alumni on board!

MB: How long has Storytold been in the works?

BM: Fall 2013, Storytold was officially founded as a project at the Old Stone Mill. Still in its earliest stages, it was little more than an okay-looking WordPress site that received a tiny bit of attention from a small handful of friends and a couple interested students. At that point, it was mostly about figuring out how the system would actually work, and after we took our first few requests in spring of last year, it became clear that we would need more than two, three people to make this actually happen. Over the summer I switched to a different web platform, which allowed me to totally revamp the website to make our system clearer and more accessible.

MB: Will you take any story idea? What are the boundaries?

BM: We will take anything within reason! Our basic boundaries are built into the request form: only two out of a handful of genres can be applied, and it can’t run any longer than ten installments. We’re committed to giving our clients the stories they want, so unless a request seems terribly offensive, we will accept it. If it does seem offensive, we put it up to a vote among our writers. If it passes, it’s published, and if it doesn’t, it isn’t. If one of our writers is still willing to take it, that’s up to them. And if a request is just too ridiculous for us to accommodate, we’ll get in touch with the client and work with them to figure something out–but I don’t anticipate that being a problem!

MB: What’s the craziest story request you’ve received?

BM: It really depends on what you mean by “crazy.” We’ve had a couple of extremely specific requests, including one that required at least two “that’s what she said” jokes and a Spice Girls reference. In terms of something you won’t find on the shelves of bookstores, we’ve had a request for a story featuring a trans-identifying (female to male) princess (or prince, rather) who lives in a land where people occasionally turn out to be shapeshifters. We’ve also had some unusual requests on the other side of the spectrum, like the one that was just a couple lines of song lyrics.

MB: How do you go about matching a story to a writer?

BM: It’s largely personal choice combined with coincidence. Our writers see all the new requests at each weekly meeting, and stories are assigned based on who would prefer to write what. If a writer is already working on a story, she won’t be assigned a second one, but if she really, really wants to write a particular request, she can hand off a story to another available writer. In cases of story-swapping, we do our best to keep voice and style as consistent as possible.

MB: What’s been the most fulfilling part of Storytold so far? And what’s been the biggest challenge?

BM: The most fulfilling part has definitely been people’s reactions once they understand how the service works. There’s obviously some initial confusion with a service as uncommon as this, but when people realize the potential it has for the way people read and the way people view fiction, there’s this air of excitement that’s particularly contagious. Reactions have been overwhelmingly positive, and really, it’s extremely validating to see that I’m not the only one who thinks that personalized fiction is an avenue worth investigating.

We’re still a burgeoning student organization, and our biggest challenge has been staying on top of our bi-weekly installment schedule. We’re trying to amp up our recruitment efforts so that we’ll have writers to fill in if any one of us gets too busy to finish a particular installment, but as it is, we mostly just rely on our clients to be understanding with us and our crazy schedules. After all, we’re students too.

MB: What are your hopes for the future development of Storytold?

BM: I have high hopes for Storytold, and I think the potential for growth is nearly endless. In the short term, I’d love to see more writers getting involved, more stories being requested, more content being produced, more media being explored. As we’re now a student org (and able to host events), I’d like to hold monthly or bi-monthly write-ins for anyone who wants to just come hang out, snack, brainstorm, and write creatively. Eventually, we’ll produce a hard-copy publication containing the completed stories that appear on our website and perhaps a few that don’t appear anywhere else. If we are successful in our on-campus endeavors, there’s no reason this service can’t expand to encompass a significantly wider area. After all, if you can receive mail, you can receive a story. And if you can receive a story, you can have whatever experience you’d like with just a little imagination.

Middbeat wants to send a sincere thank you to Ben Mansky ’15 for taking the time to explain the in’s and out’s of Storytold to us! It sounds like a fantastic organization, and we encourage everyone to participate! Tell on.

TONIGHT: Middlebrow Improv Show

10856758_10152765110116662_165354053925498465_oThis almost goes without saying, but a lot of us are in need of a serious study break these days. Can’t wait for spring break? Come see Middlebrow perform with two new members (assumption: they’re the two larger ice cream toppings)! Put down that Bio text book and have a good laugh– it’ll help you in the long run!

Date: Today, March 18th
Time: 10:30 PM
Place: Pearsons Lounge
Cost: $0


Call for Submissions: Sweatervest Literary Magazine

submissions-s15-copyCalling all writers, poets, photographers, artists, or anyone feeling like trying something new! The Sweatervest Literary Magazine is looking for submissions for its spring edition. Make sure you check out that deadline and submit submit submit! This is an awesome opportunity to get some of your work published! Emily Luan ’15 writes in to middbeat:

Sweatervest Literary Magazine has opened submissions for their spring issue! Submit poetry, prose, art, and photography (or anything printable really) to [email protected] by March 31st! We will read anything and everything you submit–all submissions are considered anonymously.


Lecture TODAY: My Struggle Made Me Strong: Discursive Resistance in the Personal Narrative of a Refugee-Background Student


A lot of us at Middlebury are all about languages. But how many of us have taken a linguistics class? Linguistics is hands-down one of the most underrated fields of study here at Midd, and we should all take advantage of this awesome lecture sponsored by the linguistics club. Bekah Moon ’15 writes in to middbeat:

In this talk, Shawna Shapiro (Assistant Professor of Writing & Linguistics) employs the lens of discourse analysis to examine the case study of a Somali Bantu student, Najib, who uses storytelling to make sense of his experience with forced migration, resettlement, and formal education. While much of the educational discourse about refugee students–particularly those from African countries–propagates a deficit orientation, Najib’s written and oral narratives emphasize a discursive alternative, by focusing on assets, rather than deficits. This case study has numerous implications for educators and researchers in applied linguistics. Refreshments will be provided by the Middlebury College Linguistics Club.

Date: Today, March 16th
Time: 4:30 – 6:00 PM
Place: RAJ conference room
Cost: Free!

Tonight! Screening of “La Jaula de Oro”



Curious about immigration issues after seeing the Milk with Dignity display in the Davis Library Atrium? Need a study break?  Join Juntos and the MAlt El Paso group tonight for a screening of “La Jaula De Oro,” a powerful movie that follows the lives of three Guatemalan teenagers as they attempt to journey across the border into the United States. This “immigration thriller” has won over 60 awards, including best picture at the 56th Annual Ariel Awards. (Please note: this movie is in Spanish; subtitles not provided.)

Date: Thursday, March 12th, 2015
Time: 7:30 – 9:30 pm
Place: Sunderland 110
Cost: Free!

TONIGHT: It Happens Here

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 You know that It Happens Here, but do you know how to:
– Talk about it?
– Intervene to stop it?
– Discuss consent to prevent it?
– Support survivors of it?

It Happens Here has become one of the most powerful events on campus over the past few years. Students come together to hear stories submitted by their peers about their experiences with sexual assault. If this is your first time at IHH, prepare yourself to hear unexpected, thought-provoking, and brave accounts of what happens right here on our campus.

This event has filled up quickly in the past, so come early to make sure you don’t end up having to listen from Crossroads. The event is abbreviated to 1 Hour and will incorporate videos and surveys to cater to the changing needs of the college community.

Bring an open mind and an open heart as we support our peers.

Date: Tuesday, March 10
Time: 8pm
Place: Wilson Hall/McCullough Social Space
Cost: Free

TONIGHT: GlobeMed Hosts a Workshop Series on Public Health Initiatives

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GlobeMed is one of the largest student organizations at Middlebury, and there’s a reason why: Not only do they raise an incredible amount of money to donate to international public health organizations , but they are actively dedicated to educating themselves and the larger student body on what international developmental aid work should and can look like. Interested in seeing GlobeMed in action? Be sure to read up on GlobeMed’s Public Health Initiatives Workshop Series, kicking off tonight! GlobeMed co-president Cate Stanton ‘15.5 writes in to explain the event:

Inspired by our new partnership with VermontCare, a local HIV/AIDS support center, GlobeMed will be hosting a series of educational workshops. Topics include cutting-edge public health solutions, non-traditional forms of care, how stigma against marginalized communities affects health outcomes, and current and past forms of advocacy around these issues. These discussions, debates and speakers will help us deconstruct our assumptions about ideas of health, community and power!

To kick off our series, tonight we will be debating needle exchange/housing first initiatives! Please join us whether you are a part of GlobeMed or not!

Date: Tonight, March 8
Time: 7:30-9pm
Place: Hillcrest Orchard Classroom
Cost: Free! All are welcome!


10986903_10204424827915621_866842257968536933_nTonight two of Middlebury’s best lookin’ DJs, WRMC tech director emeritus Eric Hass ‘15 and tech director Adam “In the Clurb Like” Kelley ‘16 will be spinning their best at the Marquis Theater starting at 10:00pm.  

-first up-
“Let’s freaking party!”

-& then-
“Helllll yea!!”

The event is sponsored by Harpoon Brewery and word in the booth room is that there are gonna be ~hot~ deals on dranks for those over 21 and some sweet giveaways as well.
Check out the facebook event here

TONIGHT • Thursday March 5 • 10 PM – 1 AM

Where: The Marquis Theater (in town)

TODAY- Last Day of : Improv Try-Out Week

Improv Plotter Poster

Both of the college’s improv comedy groups, The Otter Nonsense Players and The Middlebrow Society for Improvisational Theatre, will be holding try-outs this week in hopes of finding Middlebury’s future leaders of sarcastic party conversations.

Otters tryouts will be held TODAY (Tuesday) at 4:30PM and Thursday (2/26) at 5:30PM in the Forest East Lounge.

Middlebrow will be Wednesday (2/25) and Thursday (2/26) at 4:30PM in the Coltrane Lounge (in the Adirondack House, entrance is near Pearsons).

It is important to note that you need only go to one day for either group.  So you could do Otters Tuesday and Brow Thursday, par examplé.

Experience is never expected. Most of the current members had never done improv before either, and had to try-out a few times. No matter if its your first semester, last semester, or that sweet spot in the middle, both groups would love to have you come and play!

Email [email protected] or [email protected] with any questions.

TONIGHT: Evolution Dance Crew

10989184_1570269456523543_3201093788634578860_oHuge news! There’s a new dance crew on campus! Come check out Evolution Dance Crew’s first showcase ever tonight! One talented group not enough? D8 AND Verbal Onslaught will be performing with them. At the same time? I’m not sure. We’ll have to find out live!

Date: Today, Thursday 26th
Time: 8:30 PM (doors open at 8)
Place:  Wilson Hall (aka social space)