Practitioner Support Network

Activists, organizers, cultural workers and oral historians who engage oral history as a method for movement-building and social change often confront challenging ethical and practical dilemmas in our work.  The Practitioner Support Network (PSN) seeks to create a safe space for practitioners to explore these challenges and get feedback and support from others who share similar values and commitments to a liberatory politics and praxis.

Upcoming PSNs and PSN Reportbacks

March 25 PSN: Storytelling and Fundraising

This PSN explores the role of storytelling and listening for activists and organizers who are, want to be, or need to be involved in fundraising. The chat will examine the various roles narrative can play in working with individual donors, volunteers, boards, grants, and foundations -- as well as the ways utilizing storytelling might support, or perhaps undermine, the social justice work of our organizations.

Reportback: E-Security for Social Justice Oral Historians

On February 3, a group of us met via video chat to discuss "E-Security for Oral Historians in the Age of Trump." Here is a reportback from our conversation, and some resources we collected. Thanks to all who participated!

Feb 3 PSN: E-Security for Oral Historians in the Age of Trump

As people using oral history for social justice, we often collaborate with and record the stories of people, such as undocumented immigrants or queer and trans people, who are particularly vulnerable to potential harm if their stories are shared in ways they did not consent to. And as activists, we may be targets of surveillance. What do social justice oral historians need to know about cyber security? Where do we draw the line between being paranoid and being naive? In this chat, we will share strategies and skills for managing electronic security for oral history projects.

Feb 21 PSN: Oral History and Decolonization: Reclaiming Stories and Ancestral Wisdom

Indigenous-led movements like that to protect the water at Standing Rock highlight the power of ancestral wisdom in transformative change. As movement-oriented oral historians and practitioners, how can the process and practice of oral history help us root ourselves in the wisdom of our own traditions and ancestors?

Nov and Dec PSNs Now Open!

Learning from our Elders: Interviewing Activists from Past Generations: November 17, 3-4:15 PM EST

Oral History, Art & Activism: A Radical Mix for Social Change: NEW DATE & TIME: December 2, 2016 3-4:15 PM EST


Fall 2016 Practitioner Support Network Video Chats are Starting!

Fall PSNs start Oct 20 with a conversation about how to talk about money in an oral history interview.

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.

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.

After several years of hosting Practitioner Support Network Video Chats, we are excited to announce that we are starting two new PSN initiatives in 2016: PSN Problem Solvers and PSN One-to-Ones.

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.