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I knew I’d likely be going to see Storyteller Michael Venske in the Farm by the Lake Storyteller series and, after reading the report on his event in the Farmers Independent and on FB, I definitely knew I wanted to meet this guy.

Michael… spends his (time) on projects that help the greater good.  ~ Michael Venske Event Promotion

From recordings for Hazelden, teachings on de-escalation techniques for individuals in mental health crises, HIV awareness videos, performing environmental comedy shows, and working with First Witness Child Advocacy Center teaching law enforcement how to conduct forensic interviews with victims of childhood sexual abuse… this guy has spent a lot of time working on the greater good.

And he spent three years in China teaching English.  I was anxious to hear his reporting as compared with what Tom had shared with us years ago after his trip to China.  Michael seemed the kind of guy who’d be up for adventure. So what did I do?  I reached out to him!

I sent him a message and, as I expected, he immediately responded.  He ended up calling the house and we chatted about the possibilities of meeting, deciding that he’d come for a meal with us during his visit to Clearwater County.

Michael came by our place for lunch prior to the Library gig and we chatted for a while and then had a nice local food lunch including pork roast from Split Oak Farms along with pickles and green beans from Merry Gardens Farm that Connie and I canned this past fall.  We ended with some warm tapioca with a bit of coconut added – this is becoming a great go-to dessert for me of late.

We shared a bit of our story with him and Michael noted, after being introduced to our Rocket Mass Heater, that his story today would include a fireplace aspect.  I was impressed when he mentioned his “Rumford” fireplace.  Ah, a kindred spirit…  We told stories all through lunch and then Michael and I headed to his gig while Dan wrapped up at the Harn.  It was endless back and forth during our ride to Bagley.

We had a good crowd at the Bagley Library where Dawn Loeffler and Marty Cobenais from Farm by the Lake had prepared a wonderful place for him that included a fake fireplace!  The story went up and down, from dramatic and compelling to hilarious (yes, I was laughing out loud – a lot!).  It pulled us all forward and then circled back and then wrapped up with a warm and comforting close.  The crowd was very happy with his performance.  Lots of laughs and a few good things to ponder.  We had a lovely Q&A session at the end and I was surprised by several questions – these people knew a few things about Michael’s work – what a prepared audience!!

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A really fun day of meeting a new friend.  I was thrilled to learn more about this amazing guy.  He’s worked on some wonderful projects, one of my favorites of which is training police officers on de-escalation practices for interacting with people with mental illness.  I had some ideas on how we could really use this training to help improve our law enforcement in Minnesota.  But I’m most looking forward to sharing more with him on one of my favorite subjects, which as he was wrapping up the day I found also interests him, Death.

Dan and I Michael-Venske-Pink-Robehave decided Michael can come visit us at the Harn any time, especially if he brings his pink robe!  And Athena.

Photo credit: http://michaelvenske.com/about/