A Ryerson social media outlet is heading to Warped Tour this summer.
Capping off its first year, The Storyteller has become an official not-for-profit organization and the team will be heading to Darien Center, N.Y., in July as a charity vendor with Warped Tour to help spread awareness about its website.
“It’s nice to be able to branch out somewhere else to talk to people that maybe we wouldn’t have come across,” said Trisha Rolfe, a fourth-year child and youth care student at Ryerson and founder of The Storyteller.
The Storyteller is a social media outlet designed to share anecdotal experiences and provide a source of education and understanding. The website receives submissions, either signed or anonymous, and posts them if the team believes it won’t be offensive to its readers. Its main goal is compassion, by allowing others to see the struggles people have and the progress they make in their daily lives.
“I learned a lot from hearing other people’s stories and I wanted to have a platform where other people can learn from others,” Rolfe said.
The process of becoming a not-for-profit organization came as a requirement for their Warped Tour application, but the $220 price tag contributes to the biggest challenge the group faces — lack of funding.
“For a while we were trying to decide if we wanted to be affiliated with the (Ryerson Students’ Union),” said Kiri Witmer, a third-year child and youth care student at Ryerson and a member of The Storyteller. “In the end we decided not to, but one of the downsides to that was that we wouldn’t get funding.”
Ultimately, the reasoning behind the decision was to put the growth of The Storyteller above the costs.
“We wanted to be able to do things outside our Ryerson career,” Rolfe said. “We didn’t want The Storyteller to start and end with Ryerson.”
Rolfe and Witmer run The Storyteller with fellow Ryerson student Deanna Aguiar, a fourth-year child and youth care student at Ryerson, as well as Jamie Lupia, a third-year student at Brock University, and Averi Loeb, a first-year student at Dalhousie University.
“I just really liked what Trisha was doing and it seemed like a really cool opportunity … and I wanted to see where it would go,” Aguiar said.
The site receives 500-700 monthly viewers, but will see spikes in views, such as during Bell Let’s Talk this year, where it saw its monthly average in one day. The most discussed topics are depression, anxiety and sexual assault.
Submissions vary depending on discussions taking place on other platforms. One example is during Black History Month, which some of the members said has produced their favourite stories.
“I really liked the Black History month (story) by my friend Kevin,” Rolfe said. “It’s cool because he talked to me about it afterwards and he told me that (he) didn’t think that (he) thought so deeply about being black.”
Most of the submissions they receive are directly through the website, but stories also come through Tumblr and by reaching out to friends. The group wants to stress that people don’t have to be writers in order to submit a story and posts can be made anonymously.
“If you have something to get off your chest, just send it our way,” Aguiar said.