by Gisele Smith
It is 12:30 p.m. on a sweltering Saturday afternoon in Tucson, Arizona. The cobblestone paths in St. Phillips plaza are lined with decorated booths of artisans and exhibitors who have gathered to share their knowledge, message and mission with the Tucson community.
The temperature outside has reached a peak 96 degrees, an unusual temperature for an October day, but nevertheless the Arts in the Plaza Festival hosted by the Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance trudges on.
The Arts in the Plaza Festival is a celebration of arts and culture in both Tucson and South Tucson. The festival was created to showcase the unique talent of the locals. Each year the SAACA scours the both communities to find artists and community leaders to participate in the celebration.
“To me it didn’t matter if I was hot, this festival means so much to people in Tucson and no matter what, the show must go on,” said Victoria Preciado, a festival attendee.
By wandering the pathways of the festival, it is easy to see that as the heat increases, moral declines. The elderly turquoise jewelry maker is significantly less chatty than two hours prior, the once lively group of locals who occupied the middle of the festival with their roaring laughter have dispersed. But, somehow in the mix of it all, one booth stands out among the rest.
“I heard Hawkeye from across the festival,” said Lyndsay Campbell, student and festival attendee. Hawkeye Richardson is the founder and owner of Tell Me A Good Story.
“I don’t know if it was the outrageous amount of beautifully worn antique books, or Hawkeye’s dedication to the cause that kept me there for so long, but I can definitely tell you that the hour I spent at the Tell Me A Good Story booth, now that’s one hour I don’t regret,” said Campbell.
Tell Me A Good Story on the surface could just seem like any collector and distributor of antique books, but take a closer look—the mission is so much greater.
The nonprofit was founded in 2011 with a specific goal: ”To encourage people to have face-to-face communication and experience the benefits that this type of interaction provides,” Richardson said.
Richardson, who was previously a marketing consultant, retired and dedicated his life to this mission and it holds true through his efforts to connect with the community.
“Even though we sell books we don’t have a brick and mortar store, we travel throughout Tucson and South Tucson selling our books and giving presentations on just what makes this face to face communication so important,” said Richardson.
The books are used as a way to foster that initial line of communication. By selling the antique books, the nonprofit is able to reach festivals like Arts in the Plaza. It is also a way to connect with people to insure that the greater mission to instill meaningful face-to-face communication is realized.
“I can spot a book lover from a mile away, and from that moment I know if they will buy a book, and even before that I know if they will be willing to listen,” said Richardson.
Aside from selling the antique books to share their message, the folks at Tell Me A Good Story also travel across the greater Tucson Community to different events to share just why in person communication is so important in this day and age. They use the method Hands On Show & Tell to explain their point.
Hands On Show & Tell teaches people how to research and share meaningful stories and gives them the tools to effectively do this with anyone they come in contact with.
The method entails explaining the who, what, when, where, and why of an inanimate object as if that object was speaking for itself. The folks at Tell Me a Good Story are there to teach people how to effectively research and then communicate that knowledge successfully.
“Our subconscious minds run about 99 percent of our lives—automatically—without our having to pay much conscious intention to what we are doing. But, when we operate in this automatic mode, do we really give our full, conscious intention to what we are doing, or to those around us? At Tell Me A Good Story we teach people how to communicate and connect more effectively by learning how to give our conscious intention. It is a simple concept, but most of us don’t put it to use as often as we might like,” the Tell Me A Good Story website reads.
With each interaction from a book sale at a festival, with each presentation given to a large group of people, Tell Me A Good story is instilling the belief that being attentive and interacting with intention, is something that every single person is capable of and something that all people should strive for every day.