S1-EP9: Island Women Speak: Connection, Truth and Storytelling in Maine

May 31, 2019


Debbie talks about her most important Gap Year project: producing and directing Island Women Speak, a multi-generational women’s storytelling event in Stonington, Maine. She interviews performer Amanda Larrabee who in turn interviews audience members who call it the “cultural event” of the season.



In this episode Debbie talks about the most surprising result of her gap year: she created and produces and directs Island Women Speak, a popular multi-generational women’s storytelling event in Stonington, the small coastal town in Maine she now calls home. She calls it a gap year accomplishment because it’s a new and unexpected thing she never imagined herself doing.

She has coached and edited nonfiction writers for years but this was her first foray into coaching storytellers and producing a live stage event. To her surprise and delight, the recurring event has been a resounding success. The audience in this remote coastal community yearns for truth and authenticity, especially from performers everyone knows.

Island Women Speak, inspired by The Moth, premiered at the Stonington Opera House in January 2018. Since then, twenty-two women, ages 20 to 95, have each performed five-minute stories that they’ve written and rehearsed. The stories were on themes ranging from falling in love and leaving home to coming out as gay and dealing with depression and anxiety. The most recent Island Women Speak, in January 2019, focused on the topic of standing up and speaking out.

The theme was not meant to be overtly political but it was fitting following a year of #METOO revelations and coming on the heels of the record number of women elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

In the opening of the podcast, you will hear Lorraine Knowlton, 85, a lifelong resident of Deer Isle, performing her story about overcoming extreme shyness as a child. Debbie also interviews storyteller Amanda Larrabee about the impact of the event and why it has been so powerful for both performers and the audience.

Mentioned in episode


Media coverage

Support this podcast:


Connect with us:

Thanks to our media partners

Encore.org, our newest media partner, is an ideas and innovation hub tapping the talent of those 50+ as a force for good. Founder and CEO Marc Freedman is an award-winning social entrepreneur and author, most recently, of How to Live Forever: The Enduring Power of Connecting the Generations. Looking for a great gap-year transition program? Check out Encore Fellowships, which match skilled, seasoned professionals with social-sector organizations in high-impact, paid assignments.


Modern Elder Academy is a program dedicated to navigating mid-life transitions. MEA, based in Baja California, Mexico, provides the place and the tools to start reframing your lifetime of experience. Grow whole, not old. Founder Chip Conley is a New York Times bestselling author, award-winning hospitality entrepreneur and a rock star of the mid-life transition movement. His newest book is Wisdom @ Work: the Making of a Modern Elder.


Next For Me is an important new resource for the 50+ crowd focused on rewriting life. Taking a gap year or timeout may be the best way to figure out "what's next" when you're in this stage of life. Founder Jeff Tidwell explains, Next For Me "connects and inspires our generation to evolve our post-50 lives through new work, a new purpose, or a new social contribution."