Story Slam

Stories of Hunkering Down will be held at 6:30pm at Highpoint Cider in Victor on December 9th.

Admit it. We all know that person who, late every fall, comes up and reminds you about how early it gets dark out nowadays.

Like we didn’t already notice.

It may be an innocuous bit of small talk, but it signifies the general mood of the shoulder season. The snow is still too shallow to ski and the dirt has turned to mud.

With these temporary limitations on outdoor recreation, a pillar of the Teton Valley lifestyle, it becomes easy to get a bit stir-crazy.

Sure, going for a walk in the woods can always brighten your day, but the most reliable way to shake the cabin fever is to visit with friends that you haven’t seen in a while.

We get to tell stories about our summer and the experiences we had, which always brings back fond memories. This is a great way to beat the gloom of increasingly gray skies.

Tim Gruber has seen this strategy work, and has taken it a step further: He partnered with the Teton Valley Mental Health Coalition to put on a storytelling event on Dec. 9 at Highpoint Cider.

The storytelling session will have a $5 entry fee, with proceeds going to the TVMHC.

Gruber spoke to the chance to benefit the Teton Valley nonprofit.

“I’ve always been a big fan of storytelling events,” said Gruber. “Back east we had a really cool storytelling event where there would be a line up of storytellers, and then depending upon the theme they’d reach out to an organization in the area and it would benefit that organization.”

The theme for this iteration is ‘Hunkering Down’, a topic that can be taken more than a couple of different ways according to Gruber.

“With the winter months approaching the thought is people might start hunkering down a little bit,” said Gruber. “I’ve gotten a couple so far, some wild adventure stories, of people getting caught in a storm and having to hunker down in some tight quarters.”

Another way to think about hunkering down is with more of a metaphorical angle, in which people tend to become guarded when going through tough times.

“Speaking personally here, when navigating difficult times there is a tendency when things get tough to just hunker down, put your head down and get through it,” said Gruber. “But, there is a benefit in seeking help and sharing your feelings and emotions.”

The theme is very apt for a partnership with the Teton Valley Mental Health Coalition. Gruber has had a great experience working with the TVMHC.

“Based on the work that I’ve seen the Mental Health Coalition doing, I’ve got some really good energy coming from them,” said Gruber. “There’s a lot of good individuals with great hearts doing some fantastic work.”

Gruber has a flexible bar when considering what a successful space will look like, and what he hopes will come from the stories.

“The hope is not necessarily about those coming up and sharing a mental health struggle,” said Gruber. “I think the implicit message is just about the power of sharing and talking things through.”

While Gruber did recognize that this isn’t specifically for mental health issues to be talked over in-depth, he also hopes the little nudges of life can spur on more awareness and maybe provide a trigger for those discussions.

“I’m not expecting anyone to come away from the event ready to do whatever they can for mental health,” said Gruber. “But a little nudge here and there can go a long way and hopefully there is somewhat of a ripple effect.”

Gruber also understands how these struggles can manifest themselves, as it’s just some of the adversity found in life. He is looking forward to a chance where maybe that little reminder can grow into some needed positivity.

“We don’t always appreciate what those moments can do for others around us,” said Gruber. “It’s certainly easy to get caught up in our personal lives on the day to day and sometimes we forget about those friends around us who might need a check-in here and there.”

‘Hunkering Down’ will be at Highpoint Cider Dec. 9 at 6:30 pm. If you’re interested in sharing a story reach out to valleyvoices33@gmail.com.