Sunday, April 21, 2013

WEEKEND ROUND-UP: NARRATING LABOR STRUGGLES, AND IRA GLASS MANIFESTO



IRA GLASS MANIFESTO: From 2004, Ira Glass' manifesto on radio storytelling, with audio clips to illustrate his points. A strong primer on what makes for compelling stories. 

"NARRATING LABOR STRUGGLES": Here's video of an event I was sorry to miss this week at CUNY, a panel discussion called "Narrating Labor Struggles: Storytelling and Social Change."  The panel discussion addressed the question of how storytelling can build public awareness of the struggles of immigrant and low-wage workers, and included director and filmmaker Nilita Vachani, domestic worker activist Christine Lewis, award-winning poet and writer Mark Nowak, and moderator Sujatha Fernandes. Note that the panel discussion starts at 49:30 into the video, and is about two hours long. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

EBONY BOLDING ON HOW THE PRESS "TWISTED OUR WORDS"



“Our stories, told by us.” That’s the slogan of the Neighborhood Story Project, which has high school students and others conduct interviews, take photos, and write books about New Orleans life and culture. One of those books is Before and After North Dorgenois, by Ebony Bolding. In the following excerpt, Bolding talks about how the city newspaper "twisted our words" in its coverage of a shooting at John McDonogh High School. Buy hers and other books at the organization's online bookstore


A week later Caveman was shot in the John McDonogh gym. I wasn't there and didn't see it, so I don't know how it happened. I was sitting by the gate at my high school, Clark, during the lunch break, when an undercover cop rolled up and told us to move from by the gate because they just had a shooting at John Mac and someone had been killed. I was hoping that it wasn't anybody that I knew.

I rode the Broad bus home with my friend Brittany, and she came with me to my house. By the time we got to my house most of the television crews had gone away, but there were still many policemen in the area. We were sitting on my porch just a half a block from school when a white man with a notebook came up to us and started asking us did we know Caveman and Head. He was asking me about Head, because he knew he went to Clark. Not realizing he was a newspaper reporter, we commented on what he had asked us, but it wasn't too much. He kept asking us if we liked Head and we couldn't say anything bad because we didn't really know him that well. The truth was that I would see Caveman every time that I went by my Grandfather's house on Dumaine Street in the Fifth Ward. As for Head, I used to see him at school. I didn't have anything against either one of them. To me they were cool people.

The next day they had a big write-up about the killing that included quotes from myself and Brittany. I couldn't believe how he twisted our words around. The reporter made it like we didn't like Head and Caveman. It was a big mess, and the reporter made more drama.

After the shooting, John Mac got a bad name. Stories about the shooting stayed on the news for weeks and weeks, a big beef grew between the Fifth and Sixth Wards, and Brittany and I were caught in between. People kept asking me, "Why you said that about that boy, why you said this?" I would just tell them to mind their business, because everything you read in the newspaper is not true. The conflict got to the point that people were telling me that I should watch out, that people were going to do me something. My mom got worried about me, and Brittany's mom got worried about her, so they pulled us out of school for the rest of the year.

From Before and After North Dorgenois by Ebony Bolding (page 39). © 2005 by the Neighborhood Story Project.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

APRIL STORYTELLING EVENTS IN NEW YORK CITY

APRIL 10-11. "ENVISION 2013: STORIES OF THE GLOBAL HEALTH CHALLENGE" Envision is a partnership between the Independent Filmmaker Project and the United Nations Department of Public Information, and addresses global issues through documentaries. This year's big Envision event focuses on global health, and includes film screenings, panel discussions, demonstrations of transmedia projects, and a pitch session. The opening film is "Blood Brother," the trailer of which is above. It's all free. See the full schedule and RSVP here
 
APRIL 17. "HOW THE HUMANITIES AND ARTS MAKE US HUMAN." A free panel discussion on "the moral imagination and everyday life," featuring playwright/actress Anna Deavere Smith, NYU sociologist Richard Sennett, clergywoman the Very Rev. Dr. Jane Shaw of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, Guggenheim Museum director Richard Armstrong, NYU professor and dean Gabrielle Starr, and moderated by NYU professor Jane Tylus. Reception to follow. See details and RSVP here
 
APRIL 17. "NARRATING LABOR STRUGGLES: STORYTELLING AND SOCIAL CHANGE" The CUNY Center for the Humanities brings together domestic worker activist Christine Lewis, social critic Mark Nowak, and filmmaker Nilita Vachani to discuss how storytelling can advance the cause of immigrant and low-wage workers.The free event takes place Wednesday, April 17 at 6:00pm, and full info is on the event website. (Andreas Gursky photo from the event website.) 

APRIL 28. "THE RACE TO INCARCERATE AND QUAKER PRISON WITNESS" A slide talk and book release celebration takes place at the 15th Street Quaker Meeting House, and looks at how the U.S. became the world leader in incarceration, and how comics are part of the solution. Graphic artist Sabrina Jones -- a member of the 15th Street Quaker Meeting -- will talk about her new book, "Race to Incarcerate," a "graphic retelling" of policy expert Marc Mauer's book of the same name. The book traces U.S. drug, sentencing, and prison policy over the last 40 years -- and how it has brought us to the record rates of incarceration we have in the U.S. today. The event is free, and copies of the book will be available for sale. Details at the 15th Street website