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Volume 26, Number 2 — February 2019

Story Collector Reflects on Impact of I Am Home

Nancy Kavanaugh
Nancy Kavanaugh

November 01, 2011

JONESBOROUGH, TN — With roots in storytelling, Jonesborough resident Nancy Kavanaugh found herself calling the International Storytelling Capital of the World her home in 2000.

It wasn't long after her arrival that she became a familiar face around town as she quickly got involved in the area.

One her newest and most memorable endeavors has been with the Jonesborough Yarn Exchange's I Am Home productions, where she has served as a story collector.

"This is like a quilt of so many stories, how people's lives intersect and relationships are woven together by community service, laughter and sacrifice," she said.

Her first experience with a community play that was written by stories of the residents dates back to 1994 when she attended a similar production entitled Swamp Gravy in Colquitt, Ga. When Kavanaugh heard that Jonesborough would be telling its own story, she knew she would want to be involved.

"Projects like I Am Home bring people to the community and it really matters, not only to us, but to the nation and the region as a whole that we recollect on our memories. This is what makes us bonded together and form a community."

Kavanaugh is part of a group that she lovingly calls "new immigrants," a community that has come to call Jonesborough home within the last 30 years.

"Our stories connect with the stories of the past, and they all become a part of what keeps Jonesborough alive and makes it so special," she said. "So many people have lived here all their lives, but haven't had their stories told and it has been so fascinating to hear them."

As a story collector, Kavanaugh has been witness to never-been-told stories and is provided with the opportunity to recollect on personal periods of life in Jonesborough.

"It can be quite emotional. I just listen to their voices and memories, try not to interrupt and be their audience," she said. "I am so moved by many of their stories; it's often like I am crossing an invisible barrier to an unopened book."

With the fall remount of "I Am Home" coming to an end, Kavanaugh hopes to collect even more stories that are waiting to be told and woven into another production next year.

For more information, call the Historic Jonesborough Visitors Center at 423-753-1010 or visit For up to date information and special ticket promotions, visit the Jonesborough Yarn Exchange on Facebook.