4 Organizations That Celebrate Storytelling
In June 2012, an unprecedented gathering of writers and social justice advocates—among them novelist Colum McCann—convened to dream about how the world could be transformed through story. The result is Narrative 4, an endeavor that has gone global. Going into schools and other communities, N4 aims to foster "fearless hope through radical empathy" via story "exchanges" in which two people share their stories and then each retells the other's.
Dave Isay's now-legendary oral history project began in 2003 with one recording booth in Grand Central Terminal. From then on, people began to tell their stories—the mother who forgave her son's murderer, two former students who recalled their formidable Sunday school teacher. Twelve years and more than 50,000 recording sessions later, these individual stories constitute a legacy. Join the contributors or listen in at storycorps.org.
THE KITCHEN SISTERS
Davia Nelson and Nikki Silva are radio anthropologists. These Peabody Award–winning journalists have dedicated their lives to uncovering the origins of folk traditions—burgoo, Russian "bone music," Jamaican "chicken pills"—and recording the stories of the everyday people who contributed to their evolution. Their work, including two Tina Fey–narrated Hidden World of Girls programs, can be heard on NPR or on their website.
HUMANS OF NEW YORK
It's only five years old, but this exhilarating blog launched by street photographer Brandon Stanton has nearly 20 million followers who delight in its daily portraits of the colorful characters populating New York City. A little girl blowing bubbles, elderly neighbors chatting on the sidewalk, a dog walking itself on Eighth Avenue: Stanton finds splendor in the ordinary, and every day posts new pictures he snaps along with captions in the words of his subjects.
On January 19th, I met a young man on the street named Vidal, and I asked him to tell me about the person who had influenced him the most in his life. He told me about his principal, Ms. Lopez, and he explained how she had taught him that he mattered. Over the next two weeks, I learned the story of Ms. Lopez and her school, Mott Hall Bridges Academy. By hearing the stories of MHBA students and educators, my eyes were opened to the unique challenges facing a school in an under-served community. Ms. Lopez taught me that before a student is ready for academic training, they must be made to understand that they deserve success. And that can be the hardest battle in education. Ms. Lopez always said that there was no place her students did not belong. Recently we received an invitation that proved just that.