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STORYCENTER Blog

We are pleased to present posts by StoryCenter staff, storytellers, colleagues from partnering organizations, and thought leaders in Storywork and related fields.

#justB: Real People Sharing Their Stories of Hepatitis B

Amy Hill

We sat around a table, shared our stories, comforted each other, and got it out in the open. We talked about our own naked truth -- stuff that some people in society could care less about, until it happens to them. The best part is, I met people like me who have hepatitis B or knew someone who had it.

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Digital Storytelling, Or Why Technology Has Ruined Everything

Amy Hill

Anxiety about technology has a long-documented history. Plato thought the act of writing was a step backward for truth. Martin Luther decried the first bound books. Leo Tolstoy criticized the printing press. The New York Times claimed that the telephone would turn us into transparent heaps of jelly. The radio was a menace; the cinema was a fad; the computer had no market; and the television was nothing more than a plywood box. The backlash is persistent.

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Stories of Climate and Health in Oregon

Amy Hill

During the workshop, participants were able to use the space to talk about complex issues, and through that process, they felt heard and connected to one another. Likewise, during the community story screening, the storytellers showed a strong sense of pride in their videos and participated with other community members in enthusiastic discussions about actions and next steps in climate and health activism.

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Challenging Stigma Online: The Impact of Being Forever Known for Your Private Tale – by Aspen Baker, Founder & Executive Director, Exhale

Ary Smith

We don't always want to be known for the most vulnerable or emotional story of our lives. New York Times best-selling author of How to Be Black, Baratunde Thurston, once asked his live audience not to tweet or record his telling of a personal story at a public venue because he's "not interested in that story blowing up and getting lots of YouTube hits. I'm not interested in being KNOWN for it...the idea of people streaming and live-tweeting and uploading this personal, intimate tale felt like a violation."

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Afghan Women Create Powerful Videos with StoryCenter’s Silence Speaks

Ary Smith

As an Afghan woman myself, in these stories I find bits and pieces of my own life and the lives of women I have lived and worked with. Spoken in plain language, the authenticity of these stories is like a breath of fresh air in a world where the diversity of Afghan women’s own voices is often missing from conversations that others have about us.

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SpeakUP! Young Women Share Powerful Stories of Identity, Gender, and Violence

Ary Smith

Traditional and cultural norms in South Africa, coupled with the legacy of the systemic, state-sanctioned violence of Apartheid over generations, has fueled a society with one of the world’s highest rates of sexual and gender-based violence against adolescent girls and young women. The nature of patriarchy is long-standing and profoundly embedded in the country, and women’s stories are often forgotten and untold.

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"Gathering Strength" Digital Stories: Immigrant & Refugee Communities Ending Violence

Ary Smith

For four years, the Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence (API-GBV) has been leading the Gathering Strength project (GS), which holds an overarching theme of storytelling as it supports California’s API immigrant and refugee communities in ending violence. In August of 2016, project advisors and participants came together for 2.5 days, to strengthen and expand the GS community, honor and celebrate individual and collective accomplishments, and co-create a bold vision for the next phase of this work.

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Nothing About Us Without Us. Ever.

Amy Hill

Colorado’s Medicaid Buy-In provides healthcare to 6,000 working, tax-paying adults. If the American Health Care Act is passed, the state’s Medicaid program will lose $340 million in the first year, and my friends and neighbors may be forced to move away from the communities they’ve built and into nursing homes, in order to receive the support they need.

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The Trauma of Immigration

Amy Hill

My friend and art therapist, Dr. Paige Asawa, asked me to speak about my family’s immigration story because it represents the "little traumas," or little t’s, that can add up to big T’s, called cumulative trauma. She suggested that my family’s experience was an example of what trauma can look like over a long period time. The goal was for her students to hear the story so that they can better treat immigrant families in the future.

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Critical Conversations: An Interview with Stephanie Perron and Bárbara DaSilva with Sunny Hills Services’ Our Space Program for LGBTQ Youth

Ary Smith

"The young people we worked with were open, raw, honest, self-reflective, and intentional throughout the digital story making process. They showed such kindness and fierce love towards one another as they learned technical video making skills and supported each other in processing feelings related to their stories."

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Sahiyo: Working with Stories to Address Female Genital Cutting (FGC)

Amy Hill

Storytelling moves people to do great things. Our campaigns have allowed women and girls to speak up (both anonymously and with their names), when previously many women and girls have been afraid to do so in public. They feared social ostracism and resisted being labeled as victims. Our work has also allowed men to speak up about their views on FGC.

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Working With Student Stories to Challenge Oppression on Campus: An Interview with Deandra Cadet, Director of InterAction

Ary Smith

I still remember the feelings of inspiration and challenge I had, sitting in the audience of Show Some Skin: The Race Monologues my freshman year at Notre Dame. I was blown away by real, vulnerable, and diverse experiences of students at my own university on race, exclusion, and invisibility. Those stories challenged my own preconceived notions about how racism affects the way we move throughout the world.

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Holding The Stories of Justice for the Uncertain Times Ahead - By Andrea Spagat

Ary Smith

I remember where I was when I heard the news about our current President-elect making comments about his ability to grab women's crotches without consequence. I remember it because, like so many other women, I’ve experienced this kind of groping, at the hands of an entitled male. For me, it was when I was 12. I'm still wondering how to talk about all of this with my feisty eight-year old daughter.

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Social Justice Blog Series: An Interview with Becca Garcia, Creator of, “I Am Enough”

Ary Smith

It wasn’t until the Project SURVIVE storytelling workshop at StoryCenter that I was able to openly and honestly talk about what had happened. I feel that there are a lot of people who have experienced something similar to what I went gone through, and I just couldn’t be silent anymore. I didn’t want this to have power over my life any longer!

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Storyteller Reflection: Young Women Participants From Our Community College Initiative Project

Ary Smith

I witnessed my own evolution, from the insecure photographer to the confident one. I saw how the chains from within were holding me back, and when other doors opened, I walked right in. I have a story, and it is being told. I really hope all women can hear it. I hope they will be braver to be what they want to be.

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Finding My Identity as an Afghan-American

Ary Smith

When I was in kindergarten, I remember befriending other first or second-generation American children, who like me, were silently confused. Imagine being surrounded by kids your age and a teacher who doesn’t speak your language and doesn’t know your culture. Some days, I came home in tears, grieving for the challenge my parents had presented to me– an American birth and an Afghan background.

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How a Restaurant in Kabul Empowers Survivors of Violence Against Women

Ary Smith

Bost Restaurant is a social enterprise owned and managed by Afghan women. The woman who founded it, Mary Akrami, is a longtime advocate for women’s rights, and the wait staff are survivors of gender-based violence. 

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My Mother Makes Me Proud to Be an Afghan Woman

Ary Smith

On the occasion of International Women’s Day, I’ve been thinking a lot about the women who inspire and empower me. The one woman who has always made me proud to be an Afghan woman is my mother, and this childhood memory illustrates exactly why.

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