Karen Plumbe

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Karen Plumbe

Intro Truth Talks is a local community group started by Karen Plumbe. It is designed to bring women from all walks of life together to share their life stories, with the aim to provide support and friendship and to create strength and understanding within the group through the diverse range of stories shared.

Hi Karen. Can you tell us a bit about your personal history here on the Coffs Coast?

I grew up in Dorrigo and went away for school and university. Following university, I returned here with my husband; we settled and began raising our family. I have worked in health in the local area for over 15 years in various roles. Predominantly my roles involved organising education for health professionals and health promotion with the Women’s Health Centre. I love bringing people together to connect and learn.

What is Truth Talks, for those who haven’t heard of it before?

Truth Talks is a women’s story-telling event which is run once a month in the Coffs Harbour area. We invite one local woman to share her story. There are so many women on the Coffs Coast who have interesting stories and experiences of life, some that do not often get the opportunity to share their experiences.
One of the aims of Truth Talks is to provide a safe place for these stories to be told, to create friendships, networks and connections with women in our local area.
Stories are a great connector, and as human beings, we have been sharing stories for millennia. Stories connect us through experience, feelings, inspiration, humour, and so much more. I always walk away from these events feeling deeply connected to other local women, with immense respect for the resilience and strength of other human beings and with compassion for another’s experience. These are cherished values in our modern time and worthy of cultivation.

Can you tell us how the idea for Truth Talks came about?

Truth Talks came about when talking with a friend, Lily Isobella; we were discussing ways that we could bring women together, to nourish and foster a stronger support community around local women. I had been saddened by some recent suicides and wanted to create a space for women to come together and bring to life some of the support networks that can be hard to maintain in our busy lives.
Story-telling is a captivating way of bringing people together, as there is no advice-giving, no expert, there is just a heart-opening sharing of one person’s experience, from which we all learn and often gain a new perspective of our own challenges.

Where is it held, and how big are the groups usually?

It is held in a central location in Coffs Harbour, and we usually have between 30 – 40 women attend. We are currently seeking a “home” for Truth Talks, with space to accommodate our growing community of women – a space that is suitable for connection and story sharing.

Can you give us some examples of the kinds of stories shared and how they might affect the group?

We have had an amazing diversity of stories and experiences at Truth Talks. Stories have included adventure, great teachers, abuse and betrayal, mental illness, and ways to use ceremony to honour the celebratory and challenging moments in life.
One woman rode her bike from Alaska to the tip of South America solo; another woman was at Everest Base Camp when the 2015 earthquake hit and told of her experience of getting off the mountain and home to Australia and the incredible impact that this had on her life.
Two Syrian refugee sisters who now call Coffs Harbour home came along and so generously shared their culture and stories of home with us.
We aim to create a space where a diversity of stories can come to life, where the focus is on connection and compassion.

What do you hope Truth Talks will do for the community?

I hope that Truth Talks will bring the community together. I hope that people who are feeling lonely or isolated or have recently moved to the area can come along to Truth Talks and feel warmly welcomed – that they can also find others to connect with and support networks. As human beings, we long to be seen and heard and valued. Truth Talks creates a space for that to happen.

What are your hopes for it moving into the future?

We launched Truth Talks on the Gold Coast at the end of July, and that was such a wonderful evening. We will now be hosting monthly events up there too. We hope to expand into other towns interested in building community and creating a connecting event where people come together and share their stories in a safe space.

We launched Truth Talks on the Gold Coast at the end of July, and that was such a wonderful evening. We will now be hosting monthly events up there too. We hope to expand into other towns interested in building community and creating a connecting event where people come together and share their stories in a safe space.
Story slam events will be starting at the Happy Frog in September. This is a collaborative project with Lee Rickwood from Story Fruits. This event will be open to men and women. It is a fun evening to share stories and connect in with the community. Each night has a theme, and you are most welcome to come along if you have a story to share or if you would like to hear others share their stories. Lee Rickwood is a trained actress and will be providing acting gym classes to support story-tellers with performance skills, should you like some extra support in speaking in front of an audience.
In October for Mental Health Month, we will be hosting a mental health story-telling event in the library. This is a collaborative event with Lee Rickwood from Story Fruits and Rowena Bianchino from Harbour Therapy Clinic. The theme is “Share the Journey”, and we are currently putting the call out to people with lived experience of mental illness or their family member who would be interested in sharing their story. This event will be supported with acting and performance coaching to help story-tellers feel comfortable on the stage.
There are more events on the horizon, so jump online and make contact to be on the mailing list, or follow our Facebook page for updates.

Where can people find out more about Truth Talks?

The website is www.truthtalks.com.au
You can join our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/truthtalksforwomen/
Or you can contact Karen via Karen@truthtalks.com.au if you would like to get involved or have a story to share.

Thanks, Karen.

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