Sunday, December 18, 2011
LISTENING IN TEXAS: The Texas After Violence Project uses storytelling to increase the peace. With the tagline "Listening for a change," the organization "works to create a foundation for public dialogue on violence in Texas, especially murder and execution. We carefully listen to people affected by violence, including friends and family members of murdered and executed people, as well as police officers, first responders, prosecutors, defense attorneys, prison employees, victim and defendant advocates, and others involved in Texas' criminal justice system. TAVP records their statements, archives them, makes them public with the narrators' consent, and promotes conversations about the most effective, compassionate, and just ways to prevent and respond to violence." Read transcripts of some of the moving narratives here.
LISTENING IN AFRICA: In the New York Times last weekend, an op-ed by Hanning Menkell on "The Art of Listening" as practiced in Africa. The author says the best way to explain what he has learned from his 25 years of life in Africa (especially Mozambique) is "through a parable about why human beings have two ears but only one tongue. Why is this? Probably so that we have to listen twice as much as we speak."
Monday, December 12, 2011
STORY-SHARING PLATFORMS: A couple story-sharing platforms I've heard of or been exploring recently, one small and beautiful, another is sprawling and stripped-down. Cowbird.com is a new site that describes itself as a "small community of storytellers, interested in telling deeper, longer-lasting, more nourishing stories than you're likely to find anywhere else on the web." The site enables you to "keep a gorgeous diary of your life, incorporating photography, sound, subtitles, maps, timelines, characters, dedications, and more." The site has started with the saga of the Occupy movement, and does indeed feature gorgeous photos and other features. On the other end of the spectrum is the Experience Project, which now hosts a total of over 12 million experience stories on pretty much any topic under the sun, organized in such categories as "Education," "Family and Friends," and "Pets and Animals." Members write their experiences in text, and can create a profile, follow other users, and respond to others' experiences and questions. Theoretically, a single site could join the aesthetics of Cowbird with the flexibility of the Experience Project. However, the investment of time that Cowbird's pictures, audio, and other features require makes it less likely that the site will attract a huge user base; and the rapid exchange of stories on the Experience Project means that users probably won't want to spend lots of time on craft, any more than a Twitter user would.
Sunday, December 4, 2011
TIMESLIPS STORYTELLING: An NBC news story about the TimeSlips storytelling project for seniors with dementia. Check out my summer 2010 podcast interview with project coordinator Anne Basting, who also wrote the book "Forget Memory: Creating Better Lives for People With Dementia."
TWEETING WORLD WAR II: A New York Times story about a young Oxford grad named Alwyn Collinson who recently started tweeting the history of World War II, starting with an account of Hitler's invasion of Poland -- about 72 years to the hour after the actual event. The Twitter feed is called RealTimeWWII.