LAOUTLOUD conducts oral histories and interviews and produces local storytelling workshops. Similar to the old consciousness raising sessions of the 1960s and 70s, our work breaks the silence created by oppressive narratives and helps women and men bring to voice their experiences. Our stories contextualize everyday experiences, rewrite abusive narratives and shift the gaze back where it belongs: toward marginalizing constructions of our world and inhumane legislative policies. The stories we tell connect women and men around the state to important issues that affect their lives and push us all to be catalysts for creative meaning making, action, and change.
Overcoming polarization and Isolation
Human beings are storytellers. We story ourselves into being. The random events we call our experiences come to life through narration in the form of a story. We make meaning of our experiences by telling a story and by hearing the stories of others. Stories are how we come to know ourselves, our communities and our world.
Yet, there are stories told about us that are not designed to build us up, but to put us in our place -- stories that categorize us, diminish our actions and dismiss our needs. Eventually these stories silence us.
Dominant and dominating narratives, though culturally rooted in a particular time and place, set up hierarchies of acceptability, remove the ambiguity, complexity and diversity of experience and universalize one group’s experience or ideology as God blessed or moral. After spending years trying to fit into these master narratives we are diminished, defeated and self-critical. No one outside needs to police us because we have learned to police ourselves. This is the very definition of oppression. It is often at this moment that we turn to others for advice and relief
By creating the stories that matter to us, we externalize experiences and share those experiences with others. Together we connect the dots and learn to critically examine larger socioeconomic structures that undermine us. Stories return us to community and break the isolation of thinking problems are simply of our own making. In story circles and workshops we connect personal experiences to socio-economic forces that shame us and make us crazy. We can then begin to imagine together a more inclusive and justice oriented world.
LAOUTLOUD stories unite the personal with the political in 21st Century ways that harnesses the power of technology and new media for building communities, but do not loose sight the face-to-face. Storytellers create themselves within the stories they tell and emerge with new insights and possibilities. Personal stories surface hidden narratives and favor small gestures and bring activism to a human scale. Storytellers overcome oppressive forces and learn to trust their own authority.