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Saturday, October 24, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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‘Pivot: Last Shot’ indulges need to share, and hear, stories

Mark Robbins hosting a previous “Pivot” event, this one themed “Mayday.” (Pivot)
Mark Robbins hosting a previous “Pivot” event, this one themed “Mayday.” (Pivot)

All the chips.

Final inning.

Romance on rocks.

Critical junction.

Last matchstick.

So reads the Brooke Matson-designed poster for Pivot’s upcoming mainstage event, Thursday at the Washington Cracker Building, which features the theme “Last Shot.”

A few times a year since the debut event in February 2017, Pivot has provided a platform for members of the community to share, and listen to, stories, be they sweet or sad, funny or dark.

Past Pivot events have featured the themes “New Beginnings,” “Secrets,” “Promises,” “Love Hurts,” “Mayday,” “Monsters” and “Crossroads.”

“We try to think of an idea that was specific enough to jog some memories, but general enough that many people can think of a story that applies…,” organizer Eric Woodard said in an email about selecting themes. “We also don’t want it so specific that the stories will all be similar.”

Pivot came to be after Jennifer Knickerbocker, who then worked for Spokane Arts, and area physician Debra Gore began to bring together people who were interested in the idea of bringing something like the Moth’s themed storytelling events to Spokane.

People like Gonzaga University professors Joe Albert and Josh Armstrong, who were holding themed storytelling events with students, and Spokane Arts Executive Director Melissa Huggins.

The first Pivot mainstage event featured the appropriate theme “New Beginnings,” and dozens of community members have shared stories since then.

Those interested in sharing stories can contact organizers via the Pivot website, though organizers have also reached out to members of the community and asked them to share.

Storytellers are also often found during story slams, open-mic-like events during which community members can recite a story, up to five minutes long, which Pivot hosts in between mainstage events.

The next story slam is scheduled for June 20 at 7 p.m. on the roof of the former Macy’s building downtown, now called the M. The theme is “Rise and Fall.”

Pivot organizers give each storyteller feedback, though more on the structure of the story than the content.

It might be a suggestion to cut information that wasn’t crucial from the beginning of the story, clarify a confusing point or end in a stronger place.

“We try to keep the feedback pretty minimal because we want the storytellers to be able to tell their story,” Huggins said. “That gives them an opportunity to present the story in the clearest, most impactful way that they possibly can when they get on the stage.”

After all, Huggins said, the journey the listener goes on is the most powerful part of events like Pivot.

“Whatever the tone of the story is, you’re going on this journey of listening to someone else tell you a tale,” she said. “That’s built into us from the beginning. We love listening to stories.”

“Last Shot” host Mika Maloney is the Spokane Arts program manager. She has lived in Spokane for 13 years and ran Batch Bakeshop for eight of those years.

“Last Shot” will feature music from voice and guitar duo Michael and Keleren Millham and tales from the following storytellers:

Molly Allen, co-host of “Dave, Ken and Molly in the Morning” on 92.9 ZZU, actor, playwright and co-founder of Safety Net, a nonprofit that supports youth aging out of the foster care system.

Chris Cook, who plays trumpet in the Spokane Symphony, is trumpet soloist at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes, teaches music at Gonzaga University, is a poet and hosts 3 Minute Mic.

Vik Gumbhir, an associate professor of criminology and sociology at Gonzaga, where he teaches classes on the criminal legal system, policing, crime and media, and more.

James McPherson, a retired communication studies professor at Whitworth University who has also worked as a print journalist, a photographer, in public relations, on farm and in factories and sawmills.

Katherine Morgan, the Spokane-Boise market manager for the Bank of America Local Markets Organization. She previously held executive staff roles at the Home Builders Association of Spokane and was the president and CEO of the Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Elizabeth Slamkowski, a Colorado native who graduated from Gonzaga before traveling to Washington, D.C. and later Chile to teach.

Jessica Watson, who graduated from Spokane Community College and is currently a business intelligence analyst. She has previously worked as an economic and statistics tutor, a cashier and an auditor. Watson also performs as a standup comedian.

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