Saturday, November 17, 2012

Where Stories Take Us

State Hospital for Mental Diseases, March 1954. Courtesy Providence Journal.
Ladd Center, 1956. Courtesy Providence Journal.
"Where Stories Take Us" is the topic of my presentation from 6 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, November 28, at Salve Regina University's Pell Center in Newport, Rhode Island. Do come!

I will speak on how we can sway public policy and come to better understandings of all of us as common members of society not only by presentation and analysis of facts -- the so-called straight news report, for example -- but also by story, which is writing, film and other creative expressions that stress character, narrative and emotion. To illustrate, I will be discussing The Providence Journal's long tradition of storytelling and how it has influenced public actions regarding, among other issues:

-- Deplorable conditions at state institutions. The photos above, from The Journal's rare archives, are two of several I will use.
-- Public safety in the wake of The Station nightclub fire.
-- State pension difficulties.
-- Treatment of veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars (I will show a clip from the projo documentary Coming Home).
-- And, this year, the state's continuing sick economy in the Reinvent Rhode Island series.
With my Journal colleagues, I have participated in all of these efforts. I will also throw in a few words about some other of my favorite stories and books, and two documentaries I wrote and produced on my own time.

 The free and public evening November 28 will serve as the official announcement of the Pell Center's Story in the Public Square initiative, a year-round program dedicated to celebrating and studying public storytelling in American politics and civic life. Story in the Public Square will launch with a day-long series of free and open-to-all events on April 12, 2013. As a Pell Center visiting fellow, I have been deeply involved with director Jim Ludes and other Salve officials in pulling it together.

More details on the November 28 evening are at the Pell Center site. And follow Story in the Public Square on Twitter, @pubstory A Story site will go live soon from Salve, along with a Facebook page...

For coverage, read the story in The Mosaic, Salve Regina University's Independent Student Voice.

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