‘Treasure Maps: The Georgia Storytelling Roadshow’ Highlights People With Developmental Disabilities

A traveling roadshow is coming to Atlanta, bringing art combined with activism, and a goal of uniting communities behind their members with developmental disabilities. The show is “Treasure Maps: The Georgia Storytelling Roadshow.

The pop-up theatre will screen films about people around the state who are navigating life with a developmental disability. It will be accompanied by vendors, installations, food trucks, and live music.

The Atlanta stop on the Georgia roadshow happens this Saturday, July 10, at Legacy Park in Decatur, with WABE’s “All Things Considered” host Jim Burress co-hosting the event. LaTonya Harris is a roadshow volunteer, and mother of one of the featured storytellers, her daughter Faith. Shannon Turner is the founder and Creative Director of StoryMuse, the company that partnered with the Georgia Council of Developmental Disabilities to produce the Treasure Maps project. Harris and Turner both joined “City Lights” Senior Producer Kim Drobes to share their excitement about Treasure Maps, its storytellers, and the push for legislative progress that the show makes its priority.

Interview highlights:

How “Treasure Maps” came to be:

“The storytelling project started in 2018,” Turner said. “We traveled the state collecting stories, and those stories walked right into legislator’s offices so that we could help educate those folks to say, ‘Look, this is your constituent. Please make better decisions on their behalf.’”

“I started to see trends across those stories,” Turner went on. “So we went on the road, we collected these 10 stories, we put them together into this beautiful show … I like to say, each of these 10 storytellers, their stories are just like a beautiful manifestation of that teller.”

On featured storyteller Faith Harris:

“Faith loves to tell her story as only Faith can do, and so we just thought that it would be an awesome way to get her out in the community,” Harris said. “Faith is this amazing 21-year-old who loves life. When she walks into a room, you know she has arrived, because she has lit it up.” She added, “She’s just this, ‘I-won’t-be-put-in-a-box’ kind of woman. I just follow Faith’s lead, and wherever she leads us, that’s where we go.”

“I want her to always have a space in our community,” Harris said. “And usually that doesn’t happen after our young adult’s exit school — then, there isn’t a lot of spaces for them to be in. That’s been my passion, my heart, my push, my life; just to make sure that she has a space when she exits school next spring.”

“I’m really glad that LaTonya brought up this phenomenon that she’s trying to get out in front of, with her daughter Faith, which is what we call, in the business, the school-to-couch pipeline,” Turner added. “A lot of folks find that there’s this total drop-off in services after they graduate from high school.”

What to expect from the storytellers:

“The filmmakers have had so much fun making those stories, and experimenting with genre,” Turner said. “So we have a guy who loves to cook, so we ended up making a cooking show as you might see on the Travel Channel or the Food Network. And we have another young woman who is a jewelry maker, and so watching her story is kind of like watching something on HGTV.”

“[Faith] tells a story about learning how to walk,” Harris said. “So, her father was deployed … At that point in time, Faith wasn’t walking. So our pledge to him was, if he came back, Faith would walk to him when he got off the plane. We shared that with our team; and the physical therapist who was absolutely amazing, every spare moment she had she would work with Faith. And Faith walked to her dad when he got off the plane that following year.”

“In the same way that all of those stories are unique and connected to the teller, each of these shows has become a beautiful manifestation of that community,” Turner said.