But to be at the edge means a certain willingness to jump and grow wings. And like any other young organization, we needed a group of very special people to help us maintain flight.
Everyone who has played a role in the growth of N4 is a philanthropist in the truest sense of the word. Yes, checks are written and of course it takes funding to keep our programs moving and expanding, but every gesture of support comes from someone who feels like a family member. They are close friends, not just to the organization, but to the idea of story, too.
There is the quiet donor who walked into a coffee shop and listened, gave advice and offered shelter in the storm. She would go on to open her arms and heart to our lead advisors around the world who would come together for a game-changing summit in Connecticut.
The Bezos Family Foundation came in strong and early. They shouldered our ideas and allowed us our vision.
There is the author and philanthropist who opened her heart, her mind and her home to Narrative 4 time and again. Her family foundation cut the very first check N4 received in February of 2013 as a new and fast-tracked project of the Tides Center.
We were fortunate to continue our relationship with Jon Fine, who supported us with his energy and enthusiasm, as well as with repeated grants from a powerhouse company.
Our current treasurer found us by way of a beloved friend in Colorado; she and her husband would fuel the organization with their time, energy and financial support.
The culmination of all this work came on a spring day in downtown New York City as we celebrated the public launch of Narrative 4, alongside our friends at Esquire and Picador. That same week, Narrative 4 was featured in an article by New York Times journalist Joel Lovell.
Shortly afterwards, we were back in Chicago to celebrate the programmatic launch of Narrative 4 with several of our advisors from New York in attendance. We went on to host our third annual summit in Chicago with some very special guests from around the country, including Lee Keylock, the teacher from Newtown, Connecticut who hopped on a plane just hours after giving the 2013 commencement address at Newtown High School. Lee joined us as a volunteer. He was already keenly aware that hope and resilience can actually honor the heartbreak of the world.
While the remarkable full story of Narrative 4 Connecticut will soon be found on this website, Lee’s participation in our summit proved crucial to the evolving N4 strategy.
There have been tough breaks and uphill battles along the way, but the many successes reflect the unwavering commitment of our leaders who knew full well that public backing and publicity for a new organization is always hard won. Thanks to many of our founding members, Narrative 4 was a topic of discussion on stages, television and radio shows, and in print even before it was officially launched. On November 6, 2013, Narrative 4 took center stage at Manhattan’s Symphony Space for a Selected Shorts event featuring Terry Tempest Williams, Tea Obreht, Gabriel Byrne, Stockard Channing, Colum McCann, Corey Stoll and Rebecca Noami Jones, all who presented stories from The Book of Men.
From left: BD Wong, Rebecca Naomi Jones, Stockard Channing, Corey Stoll, Gabriel Byrne, Tea Obreht, Colum McCann, and Terry Tempest Williams at Symphony Space.
A few months later we took this goodwill and paid it forward in New York at a benefit designed to celebrate our progress and outline our future plans.