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Author: Stephanie

The Stonesoup : wolf, hen and community building


Once there were two travelers  Tired, hungry and cold, they arrived in a small village and asked for food and lodging. One by one, the villagers either said, they had no beds or no food to share. And so the two travellers began to build a fire in the centre of the village. Over it, they hung a cooking pot filled with water and added a simple stone. What were they up to?

The first villager came over to find out. “We are making stone soup”, said the travellers. “You will see, it is delicious! Of course, the flavour improves even more with a carrot!” “I think I might have just one carrot”, said the woman. Later someone came with a potato, and then came some beans, some milk, a bit of chicken …

soon everybody was standing around the pot sharing some of this delicious soup and the travellers had a warm place for the night. “Imagine!”, the villagers said to each other, “what wonders you can create with just a simple stone!”

This beautiful version of the stone soup is crafted by the storyteller, author and story activist Mary-Alice Arthur. One of the first written versions of this folktale is the one published in the 1720 by the French journalist Madame de Noyer ‚Soupe au Callow’.  If you want to know more about its history …


There is a slightly different version published as a beautifully illustrated (kids’ )book from Anais Vaugelade with a wolf knocking on the hen’s door. Obviously, it has a special drama effect lying in this polarized wolf-hen encountering and I will use these two characters to do some story reflection.

What does the story do? The story spontaneously resonates in three different ways with me, my activity and the professional field, I am working in:

1) the wolf – a change facilitator coming from outside

sometimes the door does not open, sometimes it opens slowly,
and you understand … you are a foreigner,
why should the villagers trust the unknown, and why the hen, the wolf,
you offer your stone, it is a ‚creative act’
you initiate cooking and invite people to contribute, Not only as an act of gentleness
Also because it makes your living
sometimes you stir and taste the soup, you start to tell a story
And then you listen …
The participants share and connect, finally, it is time for you to leave.
Do you come back? We do not know.

2 ) the hen – the change knocking at my door 2 years ago

separation after 13 years of relationship
I opened the door and let the wolf in,
in a chicken naïve, also fearful and somehow trusting way, I let change happen
feeling helplessly alone With a big decision
I supported the soup cooking although the stone was not really promising
but many ‚neighbors’ came by, contributing their ingredients
… and I have to say, the new soup smells promising

3) ‘folktale advise’ on management style

Have you noticed the highly advanced leadership style of the hen (the wolf/or both)? … hosting change, inviting team members to co-create (the soup), supporting a culture of personal engagement and community building. Very visionary, don’t you think?

It reminds me of Luc Galoppin’s Ice Hockey Metaphor and ‘where the puck is heading to and change practitioners should be already’ …

ice hockey metaphor


There are many ways to work with story and story works with us? What is the story doing with you?


StoryWork at the Berlin Change Days 2014


StoryWork is not only about telling, but listening, catching and creating stories. It is a powerful and sensitive vehicle to facilitate change. Great experience to share StoryWork at Berlin Change Days!




Interview with Stephanie Boldt (.81) about StoryWork and its power to facilitate change



Authenticity – The secret of True Stories


TRUTH walked into a village. The local inhabitants started cursing at him. They chased him out of the village. TRUTH walked along the road to the next town. Children ran away, hiding from it. The adults spit at him and cursed him out of town.

He walked, lonely and sad, down the empty road, until he reached the next town, still hoping to find someone who was happy to see him, who would embrace TRUTH with open arms. So he walked into the third town, this time in the middle of the night, hoping that dawn would find the people, happy to see TRUTH with dawn’s light. But as soon as they townsfolk’s eyes lit upon him they ran to their homes and then came back throwing garbage at him.

TRUTH ran off, out of town, into the woods, and after crying, and cleaning off the garbage, returned to the edge of the woods, when he heard laughter and gaiety, singing and applause. He saw the townsfolk applauding as STORY entered the town. They brought out fresh meats and soups and pies and pastries and offered them all to STORY. Who smiled and lavished in their love and appreciation.

Come twilight, TRUTH was sulking and sobbing at the edge of the woods. The townsfolk disdainfully ignored him, but STORY came out to see what the story was. TRUTH told STORY how all the townsfolk mistreated him, how sad and lonely he was, how much he wanted to be accepted and appreciated. STORY replied, “Of course they all reject you, “STORY looked at TRUTH, eyes a bit lowered to the side. “No-one wants to look at the naked truth.”

So STORY gave TRUTH brilliant, beautiful clothing to wear. And they walked into the town together, TRUTH with STORY. And the townspeople greeted them with warmth and love and appreciation, for TRUTH wrapped in STORY’s clothing is a beautiful thing and easy to behold.

And ever since then, TRUTH travels with STORY, and they are always accepted and loved. And that’s the way it was and the way it is and the way it will always be.

… and it is Truth which gives Story power and depth. The result of this marriage is authenticity. The more authentic your story as a person, team or brand the more convincing and the more touching for the audience it is.

I tell this story when I want to share what StoryWork means for me. People ask me ‘are you the storyteller’ and my response is quite clear, I am a Story Worker. I am interested in revealing true stories and as much as I am a storyteller, I am a story listener, story catcher and story creater!


Let your story work!

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