Student-Farmworker Collaborations that Yield Stories and Build Justice

We hear a lot about immigrants in the media. It’s a story we all think we know about how times in Mexico and Central America are hard and how this hardship drives men and women to cross borders and take other people’s jobs. Many of us want to help, some of us want these people to return to their country of origin, but few of us take the time to ask questions and listen. Mainstream media rarely let immigrants speak for themselves.

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Building the StoryCorps Justice Project: Call for Groundswell Practitioner Perspectives

StoryCorps, the national oral history project, is launching the Justice Project – an initiative that will amplify and preserve the stories of people whose lives have been impacted by mass incarceration and the justice system nationwide   We hope to use this and other Groundswell spaces to generate response, engagement, and reflection as we build this project.  Please help us build the best project possible.  

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July 8 PSN: The Archivist is IN: An Open Q&A with Members of the XFR Collective,

Join members of the grassroots archival collective XFR (pronounced "transfer") Collective for a conversation about how to organize, safeguard, and archive oral history materials. What questions should you ask as you begin an archival project? What kinds of tools might you use to make sure that your digital and paper files are findable? Bring your own questions, and join us for what we hope will be just the start of an ongoing conversation.

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Report Back on May’s PSN: Self-Care for Social Justice Oral Historians

On May 26th, seven women-identified oral history practitioners gathered for May’s PSN, Self-Care for Social Justice Oral Historians. Our sharing circled above a loving attention to our bodies and the ways in which they communicate their profound knowing to us. In the social justice and oral history communities in which many of us operate, the idea of caring for ourselves is regarded as an afterthought, internalized as secondary to “the real work”. 

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Listening through Time and Finding My Own Place

The first thing that struck me about Listening through Time and Place: An Oral History Exhibit was the size of it. The information to wade in was both wide and deep. An average of four—and often more—five- to 10-minute excerpts of life history interviews featured in each of twelve exhibits may not sound overwhelming until you realize that each excerpt is designed as a gateway not just to that person’s life, but to an entire zeitgeist. 

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May PSN: Self-Care for Social Justice Oral Historians

In oral history, deep listening requires the interviewer to open themselves to the narrator's stories. Such stories can be challenging and even painful. We often discuss how to support our narrators in telling difficult stories, but rarely how to take care of ourselves as we listen to them. In this chat we will build on conversations, in both the academic and the activist world, about burnout and resilience. The goal is to share experiences and develop self-care strategies for social justice oral historians.

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Forty Blocks: The East Garfield Park Oral History Project

Before you read further, please google the phrase East Garfield Park. Okay, aside from the ubiquitous Wiki entry, what did you find? Our guess is you saw mostly hits that involved crime and gentrification in some way. The mainstream dominant media portrays this community in the heart of Chicago’s West Side as crime ridden, poverty stricken, and little else.  East Garfield Park organizations and residents strive to rewrite this narrative. 

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APRIL PSN: Storytelling the Environment: How can we use stories to help understand and protect the natural world?

April's PSN Video Chat aims to develop strategies for utilizing storytelling to affect positive change in the natural world and to emphasize the human race's responsibility to our planet. This chat will examine the various roles narrative can play in environmental activism, from how storytellers can convey complex scientific knowledge to the general public to how personal storytelling can be used to affect public policy. 

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FEBRUARY PSN: Interviewing About the Body

In this Practitioner Support Network video chat, we will discuss the potential and special challenges of interviewing about the body, and will develop strategies for interviews focused on embodied experience such as breastfeeding, living with a disability, being transgender, or dancing as well as strategies for keeping the body in focus in all of our work.

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PSN Reportback: Strategies to Maintain the Momentum in Volunteer-Run Oral History Projects

n our November PSN, a group of practitioners came together to develop strategies to maintain the momentum in volunteer-powered, and volunteer-led, oral history projects. You can read the full minutes here, and here are a few of our favorite tools, organized by each phase of a project (with thanks to Alice Kovacik for the great notes!):

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December PSN Now Open!

An intergenerational framework in oral histories can be useful to both parties involved--the interviewer/youth can learn valuable lessons from the person being interviewed, while the interviewee/elder can find it very fulfilling to pass their stories down to the next generation. This can particularly be useful in activist groups to form bonds and build community that might otherwise be fractured by generational differences.

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