Common Threads storytelling event to kick off Jan. 26

Published 11:22 am Friday, January 11, 2019


COLUMBIANA – A new storytelling event promoting community involvement will start at the end of this month.

The ongoing event, called “Common Threads: The Stories That Bind Us Together,” will feature about six people who will tell a personal story related to a predetermined theme.

Organizers Sasha Johns, jewelry artist and owner of True Vine Gifts on Etsy, and Diane Moore, who owns Columbiana Inn Bed and Breakfast with her husband, partnered to create the event as an outlet for people of different ages and backgrounds to share stories with an audience, while also raising money for individual school groups.

“Everybody’s different, and we want people to find their commonalities,” Johns said. “We really want it to be something that binds the community together. Stories matter.”

The first Common Threads event is set for Saturday, Jan. 26, at 7 p.m. at Shelby County High School. Six storytellers will share stories related to the theme “There’s A First Time for Everything.”

Storytellers set to share on Jan. 26 are:

  • Dr. Lewis Brooks, Shelby County Schools superintendent
  • Joellen Ramsey, Sassy Sisters Boutique in Helena
  • Steve Austin, life coach and author of Catching Your Breath
  • Sherri Spears, lead teacher of the Gifted program in Shelby County
  • Bailey Bailey, Shelby County High School senior
  • Sasha Johns, co-founder of Common Threads and owner of True Vine Gifts

Each storyteller will have 10-15 minutes to share.

SCHS’s Pride of Shelby County Band ensemble will perform, too.

The event will take place every two months with a different group of storytellers each time.

Proceeds from ticket sales will benefit various school groups.

“Our goal at each event is to raise money for a small school group,” Johns said. “I want to seek out the ones that need help the most, that don’t get as much funding.”

The first beneficiary of Common Threads, for example, is the SCHS marching band, whose members are working toward purchasing new uniforms.

Johns has experience in oral storytelling at Arc Stories in Birmingham, and she approached Moore about starting a similar storytelling outlet in Columbiana.

“I moved here a year ago. I’ve gotten to know people and fallen in love with this town,” Johns said. “I really wanted to do this here.”

Johns also wanted to foster a sense of community among residents of different ages. Her goal is for at least one student to participate at each storytelling event.

She and Moore want participants primarily from Shelby County, Johns said, but they will not turn away someone from a different area.

Johns and Moore will decide on a theme prior to each event date, but they welcome the public’s feedback in brainstorming potential themes.

“Going forward, we want people to contact us on Facebook, Instagram or email with their story pitches,” Johns said, noting she and Moore will screen potential participants’ stories to ensure they are appropriate for Common Threads. They will also offer individual coaching when needed. “We want it to be family friendly.”

Students that help with Common Threads events could receive volunteer hours they have to have for school, Johns said.

The event is a simple, no-frills concept, but Johns and Moore are hopeful it will become a meaningful mainstay for the community.

“I think it will be a good, entertaining night out,” Johns said. “I’m so excited. Whether you think you can tell a story or not, we can help you.”

Tickets are $10 and may be purchased at Busy Hands in Columbiana or at

Any tickets left over will be available for purchase at the door the night of the event.

To stay up-to-date on announcements and upcoming events, follow Common Threads on Facebook at or on Instagram at