“In my work in post-trauma, post-crisis, or transition communities, from rural Pennsylvania to New Orleans, from Kentucky coal-fields to post-war Uganda and post-genocide Rwanda, I’ve been moved witnessing how art and story can be employed to frame the present through the lens of honest personal past experiences, toward a more mindful collective future. I’ve found that in this blessed human work, Story isn’t simply a useful tool, it’s essential. I’ll take it a bit farther – in the processing of story, moving from “My Story” or “Her Story” or “His Story” or “Their Story” into a consensus intentional collective “Our Story,” there can be terrific power. That power can be available for any oppressed people to let their stories rise. It can also be used for former enemies and rivals to locate their common humanity. It can be a way forward in a fractured world. It can also be grievously misused. Community Story’s power can be channeled for good or ill, but when channeled and intentionally harnessed toward civic empathy, peacebuilding, healing – astonishing transformation can and does happen. When served well, these efforts become a shared community ethical exercise at the intersections of race, class, gender, age, ability, geography, faith, politics and more. Story can become our best vehicle toward Civic Empathy. But here’s the thing: All good Story Work begins not with telling, but with listening. A lot of listening. I’m eager to get to Vassar, to listen.” -Gerard Stropnicky
Sponsored by The Engaged Pluralism Initiative, The Philaletheis Society, The Social Consciousness Fund, Vassar Student Association, and Creative Arts Across Disciplines.
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Vassar College is a coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college founded in 1861.