Friday, November 25, 2011

Story Telling for Good

By Pia Infante

What better time of year than now, and what better time in human history than now, is there to highlight and focus on stories of good? It's been an intense year politically, financially, socially for many - and, as we bring the year to a close, I'm led to look for what's "good in the hood" as a recent Storytellers for Good piece highlighted.

Actually, it was while flipping through TWI grantee Spot Us' unfunded stories that I found this smiling example of a great story. Spot.Us is an open source project to pioneer “community powered reporting.” Through Spot.Us the public can commission and participate with journalists to do reporting on important and perhaps overlooked topics. Contributions are tax deductible and we partner with news organizations to distribute content under appropriate licenses.

I found that a consistent partner in this endeavor for Spot Us is another outfit aptly named Storytellers for Good which is a team of passionate journalists and photographers who seek to use their skills to inspire optimism and change. This group aims to tell and promote stories of people and organizations making a positive difference. With stories that span from Sub-Saharan Africa to the Mandela Marketplace in West Oakland, CA - there are certainly some gems that are guaranteed to inspire hope and re-instill an unshakable faith in the human spirit.

For me, the winding down of one year and slow spiral into the next always brings me home to myself. I find myself drawn to an expansive table near a window, a journal, and a good pen and the dark, quiet, pregnant pause of reflection and dreaming. I appreciate the opportunity to look for the good in myself, for the good I'm honored to witness in others on daily basis, and the good that can always be found in the larger world around me. I was glad to have dallied a bit with Spot.Us and Storytellers for Good today, to re-affirm my own unshakable (though often shaken!) faith in the human spirit and to connect with the truth that we can make the world our own, again and again.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Story of Story

By Pia Infante

There were several key messages John shared from the Conversation with Van Jones hosted by NCG yesterday. One, lifted from a comparison of the 99% movement to the rise of the Tea Party, is that the 99% movement will only succeed if it seeks the best for the 100%, not by propelling another divisive "Us vs. Them" narrative.

Another is that the power of story to capture imagination, to educate, and to catalyze action continues to demonstrate time over time that data does not instigate change, and people's stories do.

A compelling example of the power (and story) of Story is Annie Leanard's work. Her piece called The Story of Stuff has gone viral with millions of viewers world wide.

Perhaps in some response to the Occupy movement, Annie has recently released The Story of Broke, a heart-breakingly hilarious and sobering piece that takes us step by step through a visual narrative about where our tax dollars do (and don't) go. Incidentally, Annie participated in a dialogue with The New School at Commonweal's Micheal Lerner, a grantee and friend of The Whitman Institute. The New School demonstrates often the ability of stories to stick with us through weekly podcasts and community gatherings around ecology, culture, and the inner life.

We highlight Annie and Micheal's work here to emphasize the power of story, of inquiry, and how both learning and civic action can be engendered by the elegant and smart use of the ancient ritual of storytelling - particularly when paired with the nimbleness and instant sharing capabilities of modern technology.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Some Among Us

By Pia Infante

This week we wanted to highlight a few of our colleagues as a sample of the profoundly rich contributions of the TWI community's efforts to promote a more just and sustainable world.

On The Move's Executive Director Leslie Medine was recently recognized in the Napa Register, spotlighting her tireless efforts to support and empower young people.

Spark celebrated its 9th Annual Black and Pink Ball in October, an event that regularly attracts over 800 guests who are part of Spark's community of young global citizens invested in changing patterns of global inequality.

Our friends at the Center for Courage and Renewal recently launched a video series called Stories of Authenticity. The first video features Parker Palmer speaking on how to live a "divided life no more."

Lastly, Eboo Patel of the Interfaith Youth Corps was featured in the Clinton Global Initiative's Stories, highlighting the finer points of a vision to catalyze a generation of young interfaith youth ambassadors to promote peace through dialogue.