Written by Denise Miller, Firesteel Advocacy Coordinator
The brilliant storyteller and political activist Maya Angelou said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
We all want to be heard, and sharing a story can be a great relief for the storyteller.
Stories can also build bridges between people and drive social change.
I’ve heard again and again from elected officials that they are moved by personal stories. U.S. Sen. Patty Murray and state Rep. June Robinson say personal stories help them and their colleagues understand how policies affect their constituents. Stories have an impact on their decisions, and therefore on our laws and communities.
We saw an example of the power of storytelling earlier this year, when it combined with grassroots advocacy to rescue an important source of funding for programs to end homelessness.
“Finding Our Way: Puget Sound Stories About Family Homelessness”
Now we have the opportunity to collect and share impactful stories about family homelessness in collaboration with expert storytellers.
StoryCorps is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide people of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives. They have collected and archived more than 50,000 conversations with upwards of 90,000 participants. You may have heard excerpts of some of these conversations on NPR.
StoryCorps is coming to Western Washington this summer to record conversations with people who have been impacted by family homelessness. The initiative is called “Finding Our Way: Puget Sound Stories About Family Homelessness.”
The YWCA of Seattle | King | Snohomish is partnering on this initiative, and will host storytelling sites in King and Snohomish counties. Catholic Community Services will host a site in Pierce County.
The conversations are usually between two people who know each other well. All participants will receive a CD recording of their 40-minute conversation, and may choose to have it archived at the Library of Congress.
With the participants’ permission, the YWCA and other organizations will also use these stories to help listeners understand the complexities of homelessness and poverty, and to advocate for policies that will help end homelessness. I’m thrilled at the thought of the difference that 90 stories — 180 of our voices — can make. I encourage you to join us in this initiative, spread the word, and stay engaged in housing advocates’ storytelling efforts year-round.
• Additional information about the project is available on the Seattle University Project on Family Homelessness website.
• You’re also welcome to contact me directly: firstname.lastname@example.org or 206.461.4464.
If you’re outside of King, Pierce and Snohomish counties but want to share your story about family homelessness, I encourage you to get in touch with me; we may be able to feature your story on the Firesteel website.