“If you’ve come here to help me, you’re wasting your time; but if you’ve come here because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”
-Australian Aboriginal Activists Group
Story for Social Change
Through the Public Voice Project at City Mission Society of Boston, I develop and facilitate customized storytelling workshops to help participants find and share the stories which break down barriers and build understanding across groups, cultures and communities. In telling and listening to each other’s personal stories, all participants are encouraged to discover new insights and meaning within the stories they carry about themselves and each other. As they challenge their current meaning and expand their perspectives, participants are empowered to craft new and future stories that can better sustain them in their growing vision of who they choose to be. Should they seize the opportunity to share their stories with larger and more diverse audiences, there is possibility to impact and influence a wider array of listeners towards insight, empathy and social action. As previously unheard voices share their stories of homelessness, incarceration, poverty, mental illness or violence in public forums, there is greater insight, understanding, and motivation towards social action for both tellers and the community of listeners.
Sandy and her group from City Mission’s Lift Up Program participated in a 6 week long Public Voice storytelling workshop in the fall of 2015. You can enjoy listening to her graduation speech here. Many thanks to William Minter Productions for offering to video our storytelling celebration.
Many things can happen when one listens to a story:
- Story listening is an act of generosity; it calls for full presence and engagement.
- Story listening is an act of trust; allowing another to guide you on the story of their journey may bring you deeper into your own.
- Story listening is an act of growth; being open to new thoughts, feelings and connections.
- Story listening is an act of courage; allowing yourself to be touched and changed by the words of another.
- Story listening is an act of surrender which may involve a reversal in the power/privilege differential; accepting another as expert in their own experience.
- Story listening is an act of responsibility; being witness to another’s story is one of the most powerful and empowering actions you can be engaged in.
- Story listening is an act of social justice; gaining insight, understanding and empathy, being moved to action.
- Story listening is an act of love.
You might enjoy listening to this radio interview about Helping Prisoners Tell Their Stories
Nonprofit clients include:
- City Mission Society
- Roxbury Youth Works
- Hildebrand Family Self Help Center
- Women’s Lunch Place
- Middlesex House of Correction In Billerica
Please go to Resources for additional articles, audios, videos and stories pertaining to this topic.