Campfire Kinship Logo that says "Campfire Kinship" with fire on top and "storyrelling hearth 2 heart" tagline underneath.

Campfire Kinship: Unlocking the Power of Storytelling

Photo of Gayathri sitting and wearing a yellow turtle neck. Smiling at the camera.

Photo Credit: Shannon Hutchison at Beyond Our Image

This article originally appeared on Ethical Entrepreneur Magazine By Mounira Chehade

In this increasingly complex world, what if stories held the key to our self-healing? Could stories stitch up our wounds so we could better serve ourselves and others?

Gayathri Shukla understands the life-changing power of stories and she is bringing a unique experience to fellow Calgarians who wish to tap into their own narratives. “I truly believe that when we can share our authentic stories, we start to celebrate what makes us unique, and we also celebrate our unity and diversity,” shares Gayathri. 

Her social enterprise, Campfire Kinship, is honing the magic of storytelling to create transformation within individuals and the broader community. “Campfire Kinship offers story-based solutions to help people reclaim their unique stories, perspectives, and their authentic voices, while finding a sense of belonging with others,” explains Gayathri. 

Gayathri is certified in Guided Autobiography, the method she employs to facilitate storytelling for those who participate in her workshops. “It is a structured method that helps people reflect on their life experiences through a set of themes as well as guided questions and prompts,” explains Gayathri. The process gives participants the opportunity to share their stories in small groups and develop skills like deep listening and ways to provide supportive feedback. “The beautiful thing is that, in the process, they end up appreciating others around them as well, and actually get to see the gifts that others bring through their diversity,” says Gayathri. 

Gayathri’s own lived experience struggling to fit into her surroundings was the catalyst to exploring her own story. “I’ve felt the pain [of not fitting in], I’ve definitely lived the challenges of that pain. I had to pivot to figure out how to turn my pain into purpose. I needed to undergo my own transformation journey,” Gayathri shares. As a woman of colour and an engineer in a traditionally male dominated field, she came to understand that celebrating her own strengths and uniqueness would be of greater benefit to herself and others. 

Gayathri holding a mic and looking at an audience. There is a quote on the image that says "Stories help us celebrate what makes us unique, and our unity in diversity." - Gayathri Shukla, Founder

Through Campfire Kinship, Gayathri has seen that transformation process happen for others as they learn to delve into their own stories. “I’ve seen people that have come to my workshops feeling like there were so many parts of themselves that they were hiding, or they were ashamed of, because society told them not to be this way,” says Gayathri. Campfire Kinship helps people break free of harmful false narratives and gives them an avenue to reflect on their true path. Through this journey, participants are given the opportunity to reimagine their own mission and purpose — they gain the courage to share their stories and build self-confidence in the process. “I’ve literally seen people fall in love with themselves,” shares Gayathri. “In a non-narcissistic way, [they realize]: ‘I truly, radically, accept who I am.’”

For Gayathri, kinship is synonymous with belonging and campfires are emblems of community and storytelling. “[It’s] a place where you feel like you’re accepted and a place where you feel like what you have to bring to the world is celebrated,” she expresses.

So fittingly named, Campfire Kinship empowers us all to learn more about ourselves and others through shared stories — because no matter who you are, you have a story to tell.

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