At heart, Six-Word Memoirs is an uncomplicated concept: a tool for boiling down anything to its essence. But I like to call Six Words “deceptively simple.” I say that because it’s often hard to define the essence of who you are and what matters most in your home life, work life, faith, and more in just six words. What’s more, on a personal level, the world of Six Words often has my head spinning—as my grandmother used to say, “I’m in sixes and sevens!” In a given week I might be editing a book, visiting a classroom, coaching a performer for a live “backstory” show, working with my team on the web site or newsletter, or leading a workshop at a company or nonprofit. It can all be a bit dizzying. Yet when I occasionally slow down and take in what’s in front of me, I am reminded of what Six-Word Memoirs has become and where it has taken me. Recently, one such moment was at the Mid-Ohio Foodbank in Columbus, Ohio.
Ann Miller-Tobin, Network Resource & Training Coordinator of the Mid-Ohio Foodbank, a nonprofit with a mission to feed millions of people in central Ohio, invited me to join the organization’s annual Board and Agency Council meeting. As Miller-Tobin explained, “the Council provides insight to the Board and the Board helps advocate the need for support of hunger programs within the community.” In other words: this meeting was an opportunity for the staff and board to get to know each other and better understand how each side works toward the same goal.
When I am invited into someone’s world my goal is always the same: to teach a group—whether third graders, corporate execs, or colleagues at a cause-based organization—that this short form of storytelling can be used to get any story, concept, or cause down to its essence. The morning of the meeting I took the group through my own storytelling journey, offered examples of ways in which individuals, educators, and organizations have found the Six-Word Memoir to be an effective tool for engagement and focus, and shared some tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way about making a project fly. The culmination of the morning that I spent with the incredible group (pictured above) led to everyone sharing their “Six Words on Hunger.” Hearing their stories and the ways they framed the issue was more than food for thought—it was nourishment for the soul.
Below is a selection of “Six Words on Hunger,” brilliant bite-sized, thought-provoking takes on a massive problem that the Mid-Ohio Foodbank is working towards solving one meal at a time.