Telling stories makes us human. It is one of the most powerful ways to inspire and influence. Storytelling can unite us, or it can tear us apart. In business, if you can tell your story well, it gives you a competitive advantage and helps create a lasting emotional connection to your product, people, or place. When you combine storytelling with a larger commitment to do good in the world, magic happens.
One of my favorite places to go is Screech Owl Brewing in Bruceton Mills. I describe it as Duck Dynasty meets Cheers. In the parking lot you’ll find sparkling BMWs parked right beside mud-coated ATVs. When you walk in, you are greeted like everyone knows your name, and you walk out having gained new friends. The owners, Roger, Crista, Jameson, and Kristin Johnson are fantastic people. One of them will meander up to your table, check in on you, and, if you are lucky, tell you a story. Maybe it’s about how the hotdog and hamburger buns were created or why they chose the name Chicken Lips Farm. Don’t leave until you ask them.
Although I’m not a beer drinker, Roger promised me that I’d like his Wild & Wonderful Strawberry Ale. A sucker for anything wild and wonderful, I gave it a try. He was right. But what I love even more is a well-designed brand that conveys a good story. And I especially love it when that story is about West Virginia. On page 26 of the October 2021 issue, Bockway shares with us an article about how the flourishing craft beer industry in West Virginia is incorporating and marketing our iconic outdoor destinations in environmentally conscious ways. Screech Owl’s Muddy Creek Ale, named for a tributary of the Cheat River that has battled acid mine drainage, is brewed in cooperation with the West Virginia Land Trust’s Clean Water Program as a “reminder that good beer and life require clean water.”
There’s a lesson or two here. Stories surround us, flow through us, and give order to the world around us. Everything, even a beer can, can be a vehicle for sharing our state’s narrative. Stories spark curiosity and can be the flame for change.
If Matt Kasson hadn’t been curious about learning the story behind the feather millipede (see Wendy Holdren’s fascinating story on page 4), he wouldn’t have set about on a National Geographic grant-funded adventure in search of fungus-feeding millipedes. Now he and his team are researching the colobognatha—the first to do so—documenting the story of these arthropods for future generations.
In every issue of Wonderful West Virginia, we bring you stories we hope will inform and inspire you to love the outdoors. As the holidays are approaching, please consider introducing someone new to our state’s story by gifting a subscription to them.
Cheers to being Wonderful,
NIKKI BOWMAN MILLS, Editor-in-Chief
Follow me on Instagram: @TheWVEditor