The Bear presents PURPOSE:

stories from the non-profit world

I realized then that even though I was a tiny speck in an infinite cosmos, a blip on the timeline of eternity, I was not without purpose.
— R.J. Anderson, Ultraviolet
Storyteller Claudio Paganini; Photo: Felix Limmer

Storyteller Claudio Paganini; Photo: Felix Limmer


Ben McGuire - “The Surfer and the Birds”

Ben McGuire is a lawyer, writer, filmmaker and photographer. He’d swap any of those in a heartbeat to surf better; but that just ain’t how life goes. A passionate believer in the ferocious power of story, in 2018 he gripped The Bear with his tale of a freak accident and the courageous young Australian surfer who risked his life to save Ben’s 68 year-old mother from certain drowning. Fascinated by the mysteries of that day and inspired by a deep love of the ocean, Ben spent much of that year chasing both waves and a fitting way of honouring that humble hero and the improbable yet incredible friendships that emerged from near catastrophe.

The Bear proudly presents our first international film premiere as Ben returns to the stage with The Surfer and the Birds.

Ben McGuire’s story version of “The Surfer and the Birds” on stage at The Bear.


George Perlov - “The Certainty of Uncertainty”

George Perlov helps organizations with social missions improve the impact of their programs, marketing and brands through strategic planning, research and evaluation. Health, safety, the environment, education, human rights and culture are the causes he gets most passionate about. He enjoys seeing his clients utilize the insights and ideas he uncovers in his work.

 George is a new Berliner, having spent the last three years in Brussels soaking up the EU scene, along with a few Belgian beers. He got his start in the non-profit world at the Ad Council in his hometown of New York, where he led the research team for over ten years. Celebrity hand shaking was a small, but important part of his duties there.

“The Certainty of Uncertainty” on The Bear Youtube Channel.

Storyteller George Perlov with President George W. Bush.

Storyteller George Perlov with President George W. Bush.

Storyteller George Perlov with U.S. Secretary of State, Presidential nominee Hilary Rodham Clinton.

Storyteller George Perlov with U.S. Secretary of State, Presidential nominee Hilary Rodham Clinton.

Storyteller Kemissa Racine

Storyteller Kemissa Racine

Kemissa Racine -


due to illness, this story will be postponed to a later date.

Growing up in tormented yet magical Haïti, Kemissa had an eclectic set of fascinations, including fashion and design; her mother’s fervent dedication to the development and betterment of Haitian youth; authors and their stories; the hidden life of trees; and the correlation between poverty, vulnerability and resilience.

She followed her passions to Milan where she studied styling at the Marangoni Institute and subsequently, jewelry design at the European Institute of Design. Returning to Haïti to establish a jewelry making collective and export business, her world was rocked on 12 January 2010 when she was caught in the Haïti earthquakes that killed 300,000 souls and left a million more homeless. Kemissa brushed off the blood, dust and horror and spent the next 3 years in makeshift clinics and tent cities helping her fellow countrymen survive and rebuild. There, she witnessed well-intentioned NGOs and foreign aid programs causing more damage than they helped. The experience lead her to deeply question her purpose and to a radical realignment of her belief system and how she lives life.

She now divides her time between Berlin and Haiti. She is an image consultant and in 2019 is set to launch the Haïfashion People Project, a fashion tourism and philanthropic endeavor that creates blueprints for success for Haitian youth by training them to flourish in international fashion world.

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Jenny Christina Conrads - ”A Theme Park of Hope“

is a journalist, actress, producer, personal development coach and social development consultant. Her work has brought her to live in wonderful places all over the globe such as Australia, the U.S., Argentina and South Africa. She loves comedy, satire and all media that makes the world's sometimes harsh reality a little lighter. Her own contribution is her recently launched podcast on African social ventures called ”Pioneer Africa”.  

It was in Rwanda that Jenny found herself wonderful how she would convince a group of dedicated Rwandan women that the childcare centre they had dreamed up was in face the worst decision for the childrens’ future.  

Whilst she loves her international non-profit work, her new spark is the social business start-up world in Berlin, giving her the chance to finally put her much-loathed business degree to good use...

”A Theme Park of Hope“ on The Bear’s Youtube Channel.

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Andrea Zemskov-Züge, PhD. - “A Change of Perspective”

As a researcher in the field of Soviet History, I became convinced that individuals can shape the memory of war and violence. It is a task of civil society to create an official Memory that does not conceal suffering and at the same time enables exchange about this past between the conflict sides.  

Storytelling and Oral History are important tools in this endeavor. The cross-conflict-line exchange of genuine experiences creates empathy and a realistic understanding between the sides. 

For twenty years, I worked in various conflict settings, creating spaces for dialogue and conflict transformation. While the post soviet regions are my main region of expertise, I have gained considerable experience in India, Bangladesh and Myanmar.

“A Change of Perspective” on The Bear Youtube Channel.

Recent dialogue workshop in Myanmar.

Recent dialogue workshop in Myanmar.

Recent dialogue workshop in Myanmar.

Recent dialogue workshop in Myanmar.

A sketch from Andrea’s performance at The Bear’s Purpose Show; courtesy of Pavel Zemskov.

A sketch from Andrea’s performance at The Bear’s Purpose Show; courtesy of Pavel Zemskov.


Kira Kay - "My Dream-Inspired Journey"

Intuitive counselor; social change innovator & founder of Hands with Hands e.V.

After several death experiences in her teens, Kira decided to embrace life and dedicate herself to delve into and understand humanity – to somehow understand “what I am here for?!” A journey, starting in the Australian outback to living in multiple countries and time spent with elders of various indigenous people, lead Kira to Nepal where she found – love, the healing power of love and connection. Kira’s focus is engaging local communities in a grass roots approach to enhance sustained engagement. “Give the net, not the fish” is the Hands with Hands motto, underlining the main emphasis and intention when engaging and partnering with Nepalese communities to evolve with social issues.

“This amazing journey has deepened my belief that human beings truly can work, live, play and evolve and grow together with greater sensitivity and caring with one another.” Kira Kay


Janel B. Galvanek - “The Power of a Question”

Director, Growing Tree Liberia gGmbH;

 Janel has many years of experience in the fields of peacebuilding and peace research and has been involved in projects in Liberia, Somalia, India, Afghanistan, Cyprus, Georgia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Janel works as a Senior Project Manager at the Berghof Foundation and volunteers her time for Growing Tree Liberia. She holds degrees from Pennsylvania State University, Georgetown University and the University of Hamburg. Janel's professional interests include the interaction between state and non-state actors in conflict and post-conflict settings, engaging local actors in peacebuilding, and the global phenomenon of child soldiers. Janel believes that more attention should be paid to investigating and analyzing the interests, concerns and needs of local populations in conflict, post-conflict and/or developing regions. Local populations should be empowered and strengthened to become involved in development and in building and sustaining peace on local and national levels. She seeks to have Growing Tree Liberia support these local populations and to act as a bridge between local populations and national and international decision-makers, thereby supporting processes that build on the needs and voices of local populations.

“The Power of a Question” on The Bear Youtube Channel.

Terence Mickey on stage at The Moth, NYC.

Terence Mickey on stage at The Moth, NYC.

Terence Mickey - “Schadenfreude”

is a contributing writer to Slate, creator of the podcasts Memory Motel and Self? Help!, and a filmmaker with his first feature documentary distributed by Gravitas Ventures. He’s performed on the Moth’s Mainstage and worked in the Corporate and Community Programs, teaching both business leaders and underserved populations the art of storytelling.  By using his knowledge of narrative to help orient leaders in their careers, identify and reach their goals, and to achieve buy-in and engagement within their teams, he’s helped develop leadership programs at Fortune 100 companies, including Microsoft, Procter and Gamble, Prudential Financial, Cigna and Mass Mutual.

“Schadenfreude” on The Bear Youtube Channel.

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Allia Sadeghipour - “A Handful of Walnuts and a Clementine”

A.E. Sadeghipour is a doodling Iranian-American with a Surrealist outlook. She co-founded the Berlin Diaspora Society and teaches workshops for the Women Writing Berlin Lab. She won the Sherry Debrowski Prize for Best Feminist Multi-Genre Fiction writer in 2009. Her work has been featured in: Seven Countries Poetry Anthology by Arroyo Seco Press (2017), the Berlin based magazine The Wild Word: Dream a Little Dream (2018), Berlin and Her places (2018), KCRW's "Holiday Story Telling Special" (2018) and much more. Some of you may already be familiar with her work as she has been making her way through the Berlin literary circuit. And if you are not, well then, we most definitely have to meet, and here is my strange little world:

“A Handful of Walnuts and a Clementine” on The Bear Youtube Channel.


Pascal Heymann - "Jungle Trip"

Pascal is a speaker, storyteller, presentation trainer and one of The Bear's biggest fans. While completing his degree in physics, Pascal quickly noticed the importance of communicating ideas clearly for all types of audiences, especially in the fields of science and technology. What began as a hobby has now taken his professional beyond the realms of science and onto international stages.

With a strong focus on pitch presentations and storytelling, Pascal empowers founders, entrepreneurs and trainers to effectively share their unique concepts, generate interest for innovative solutions and connect with audiences on a deeper level.

Find out more on 

“Jungle Trip” on The Bear Youtube Channel.

About us

The Bear's mission is to promote the art and craft of storytelling and to honor and celebrate the diversity and commonality of human experience. The Bear promotes understanding and connection through the practice of storytelling and by elevating the artform on stages, airwaves and in workshops in Berlin and beyond.

Founded in November 2015 by Dyane Neiman and supported by a team of volunteers, The Bear has presented 35 evenings and over 360 stories. With a diverse cast of storytellers ranging from wanderers to wolf researchers, from around the world, in English and German, the Bear's fourth season has been regularly sold-out: a telling sign the ancient art of the raconteur is alive and well. The Bear challenges dominant narratives, inspires greater confidence in storytellers, and deepens connection in the community by sparking empathy and understanding among listeners.