Storytelling Event Encourages Essential Workers to Share Their Experiences on the Mic


A Madison Public Library Takeover Event

MADISON, WI -- Madison Public Library’s Library Takeover program will launch its final event of the 2021-2022 class on Saturday, May 14 at Lisa Link Peace Park (425 State St.) from 4-6 p.m. (Rain location is Central Library, third floor (201 W Mifflin). The event, Essential: True Stories of Unseen Work, is an opportunity for people to share their stories from the pandemic and beyond. People from all walks of life are invited to attend and share a 5-minute story open-mic style.

"We want this event to be about unseen or underappreciated work, so people can share stories from the pandemic, but they don't have to be that specific," said the Essential Stories team. "If you work in food service, healthcare, education, and other essential fields, we want to hear from you. We're hoping to hear a lot of diverse perspectives at this event and to hear from those who haven't felt brave or safe enough to share their story previously."

The organizing team has also invited a handful of featured storytellers to share a 10-minute story each at different times throughout the event. Featured speakers include: 
  • Andi Cloud, who served as the Native American Storyteller-in-Residence for Madison Public Library in Fall 2021.
  • Marisol Gonzalez-Rodriguez, a Mexican writer, poet, storyteller, business owner, Spanish tutor, mother, wife, and advocate for justice.
  • Rep. Francesca Hong, a restaurant worker/owner who changed careers during the pandemic and is now the State Representative for the 76th District of the Wisconsin State Assembly.
  • Beverly Hutcherson, Outreach and Communications Manager for Diversity and Inclusion at UW Madison School of Medicine and Public Health.
  • Wilson Seeley, a certified public school teacher and former winner of The 3rd Annual Madison Moth GrandSlam.
“There’s no doubt that our essential workers serve as the economic and cultural heartbeats of our communities. From the hospitality industry to our healthcare workers, they are at the core of what makes Wisconsin, Wisconsin. Essential work is done by essential people. The stories of our neighbors, friends and allies deserve to be heard,” said featured speaker and State Representative for the 76th District of the Wisconsin State Assembly Francesa Hong.

The event will be hosted by local comedian Dina Nina Martinez and DJ-ed by Rob Dz. Sign language interpretation will be available throughout the event, including for the open mic stories. As people share their stories, there will be a positivity board set up where attendees can post positive comments, feedback and reflections for storytellers to read and enjoy after they speak. The event will include a storytelling zine, as well as a book list curated by the Essential Stories team. 

This event was planned and facilitated by four local storytellers, poets and comedians: Dave Nelson, Mel Hammond, Charles Payne and Zachary Shea who applied to be part of the Library Takeover program. Three teams applied and were accepted, ultimately undertaking a 4-part course on event planning and being mentored by local Madison movers and shakers over the past six months. Madison Public Library provides funding, free space and marketing for each event. 

Library Takeover is funded by the Madison Public Library Foundation and this event takes place in partnership with Downtown Madison. No registration is required. See full speaker bios at

About Madison Public Library
Madison Public Library’s tradition of promoting education, literacy and community involvement has enriched the City of Madison for more than 140 years.  Visit the library online at, @madisonpubliclibrary on Facebook, @madisonlibrary on Twitter, or @madisonpubliclibrary on Instagram.

About Library Takeover
Library Takeover began in 2017 as a way to do community programming differently. The goal is to empower individuals who may not have a lot of event-planning experience to bring their ideas for enriching their community to life. Madison Public Library provides the space, time, and resources for community members to host their own events, which sets the stage for future library programming that involves and reflects all of Madison. Library Takeover will return in Fall 2022.



Madison Public Library Takeover: Essential: True Stories of Unseen Work
Madison Public Library Takeover: Essential: True Stories of Unseen Work
Was this page helpful to you?