Groundswell: Oral History for Social Change
Fall 2017 Six-Session Introductory Online Class

12:00 - 2:00 pm ET
November 7th - December 12th, 2017

Course Info  *  Instructor Bios *  Registration Info


Course Info

Groundswell: Oral History for Social Change knows that oral history and narrative can be used to promote equity and empathy that challenge oppression and racism. If you are looking for new ways to address social justice challenges in your work and community, the practice of community-based oral history can offer you important new insights and methods to further positive change.

Groundswell is offering a six-session online class, introducing participants to oral history for social change and movement building. This class will provide you with skills and insights needed to build projects that incorporate oral history and narrative in order to advance justice, build empathy, and move social justice projects forward. Participants will learn about how narrative and oral history methods are being used to build alliances, center marginalized voices and identify real strategies for change. In this introductory class you will learn the basic skills needed to do community-based, anti-oppression oral history.

Each class is two hours long and includes time for group discussion on the week's theme. Participants will be provided access to a recording of each class. Weekly assignments and course readings encourage a deeper exploration of the material. Topics covered include:

  • The building blocks of community-based oral history
  • Ethics and anti-oppression in oral history
  • How to develop an effective interview
  • Oral history technology
  • What happens after the interview

This course outline from our Winter 2017 class will give you a sense of the kind of material covered. (Watch for an updated outline soon!) The full syllabus with details on class assignments and readings will be shared with registered participants in advance of the first class.

Instructor Bios

With Alisa Del Tufo of Groundswell and Threshold Collaborative as the lead instructor, 5 of the 6 sessions will also have a guest instructor. Each guest instructor was chosen because of their unique experience and understanding of the focus of that session. 

Alisa Del Tufo – Lead Instructor
Alisa has worked to support justice and to strengthen empathy throughout her life. Raising over 80 million dollars, she founded three game changing organizations: Sanctuary for Families, CONNECT and, most recently, Threshold Collaborative. She is also one of the co-founders of Groundswell. In the early 1990s she pioneered the use of oral history and community engagement to build grassroots change around the issues of family, and intimate violence. Her innovations have been recognized through Revson, Rockefeller, and Ashoka Fellowships. Her current project, Threshold Collaborative, uses story as a catalyst for change. Threshold Collaborative’s work deepens empathy and ignites action in order to build more just, healthy and caring communities. They work with justice seeking people and organizations around the country.

Mi'Jan Celie Tho-Biaz
Mi'Jan Celie Tho-Biaz, Ed.D., is a documentarian, oral historian, multicultural educator and community scholar. Most recently, her cultural work practice has been featured in The Rockefeller Foundation's blog and THE Magazine.  In 2017, she interviewed indigenous narrators about their art practices while serving as Documentarian-In-Residence in the Essential Studies Department at the Institute of American Indian Arts. In each small public oral history interview, Mi'Jan Celie's practice evolved to grow oral history as a storygathering method which equitably includes the narrator, interviewer and community-audience, with the aim to collaboratively generate a comprehensive narrative, together.

Gabriel Solis
Gabriel is the Executive Director of the Texas After Violence Project (TAVP), a human rights and restorative justice project that engages oral history to study the effects of interpersonal and state violence on individuals, families, and communities. Prior to returning to TAVP in 2016, where he previously served as Project Coordinator and Associate Director, Gabriel Daniel Solis worked as a post-conviction mitigation investigator for the Texas Office of Capital and Forensic Writs. Gabriel was also a policy researcher at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law and coordinator of the Rule of Law Oral History Project at Columbia University. He has conducted research on policing, mass incarceration, the death penalty, and the impacts of violence and trauma on families and communities. He received a B.A. in Philosophy and M.A. in Mexican American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin.

Fernanda Espinosa
Fernanda is an oral historian and cultural organizer based in Brooklyn, NY. She has been generating, listening, and interpreting oral histories to inform creative public interventions that bring visibility to social justice issues and that aspire to act as platforms for resistance and dialogue. Most recently, she was one of twelve 2016 national Smithsonian Latino Museum Studies fellows. She holds a Masters degree in Oral History from Columbia University and a double BA in Anthropology and Literature in Spanish. Fernanda is a co-founder and member of the People’s Collective Arts/Colectivo de Arte Popular, a network of artists and cultural organizers who use art and culture to support, mobilize, and amplify social justice -- recipient of the Robert Rauschenberg Artists as Activist award. She also coordinates and co-founded Cooperativa Cultural 19 de enero (CC 1/19), an art and oral history collaboration with Raul Ayala. They were awarded the Create Change Commissions Arts Award of The Laundromat Project.

Helyx Chase
In addition to being an independent video artist, Helyx Chase Scearce Horwitz is a cord wrangler (read: Tech Manager) for the Media Mobilizing Project and served for several years as Philadelphia Coordinator for the Transgender Oral History Project. Helyx is passionate about storytelling as a means to draw connections within and between communities. Their video art is built by about and for televisions and computers. Helyx holds a B.A. from Hampshire College where they studied Video, Activism and Youth Development.   

Sarah K. Loose
Groundswell's co-founder and co-coordinator, Sarah is a popular educator, oral historian, and community organizer based in Portland, Oregon. Sarah first fell in love with the power and practice of oral history when facilitating a two-year, community-based oral history project with popular educators in Santa Marta, El Salvador.  In the years since, she has organized for economic, racial and environmental justice alongside rural progressives, immigrants, people of faith, and low-income workers in Washington and Oregon. Currently, Sarah works as an organizer with the Interfaith Movement for Immigrant Justice and co-directs Amamantar y Migrar, an independent oral history/organizing project that explores the impacts of immigration policy and enforcement on breastfeeding practices among Latinx immigrant parents. From 2011-2015, she directed Rural Organizing Voices. Sarah studied at Yale (B.A., History) and Columbia (M.A., Oral History).

Registration Info

Slots are limited and available first come, first serve.
Registration Fee: $140 for Groundswell members / $175 for non-members.

Registration Will Open Soon!