Saturday, April 13, 2013

1st Story in Public Square Conference a Success!

Jim Ludes, me, Dana Priest, and Sr. Jane Gerety, president of Salve Regina University.
 More than 150 people braved a wet and windy spring Friday in Newport, R.I., to attend the launch of the Story in the Public Square program, a year-round initiative of Salve Regina University's Pell Center and The Providence Journal that will feature more events in months and years to come and an active ongoing online resource and presence, After more than a year of planning, Story co-director Jim Ludes and I agreed our launch was a success.

Dan Priest. Journal publisher and CEO Howard Sutton, and Gary Hart. Journal reporter Paul Grimaldi, who covered the event, is in background.

The conference featured the inaugural award of the Pell Center Prize for Story in the Public Square to The Washington Post's Dana Priest, above, two-time Pulitzer Prize winner. Former Colorado senator Gary Hart, below, delivered the keynote address in Salve's Bazarsky Hall.

Gary Hart. "We need stories to tell us where we are [and] where we are headed," he said.

In the morning panel, print and broadcast storytellers, a community leader, and a best-selling novelist discussed ethical storytelling -- and told some compelling stories of their own.

L to R: Moderator Karen Bordeleau, executive editor of The Providence Journal; novelist Karen Thompson Walker; BU professor Chris Daly; URI political scientist Shanna Pearson-Merkowitz; WBUR's David Boeri; and the NAACP's Jim Vincent.

The afternoon session included a screening of The Providence Journal's award-winning documentary, "Coming Home," and a discussion moderated by Salve professor Donna Harrington-Lueker with panelists Iraq war veteran John DiRaimo, a central figure in the film;  the Rhode Island National Guard's Lt. Col. Richard Duffy; Journal columnist and film narrator Bob Kerr, a Vietnam veteran; Elizabeth Roberts, lieutenant governor of Rhode Island; and me.

We also honored the winners of our first annual student storytelling contest. First place wen to Sophie Zander, a junior at Ursinus College in suburban Philadelphia. Honorable mentions went to Ron Farina, a student at Central Connecticut State University, and Madelin Schlenz, a student at Community College of Rhode Island.

The conference was blogged and with the hash tag #SIPS13, got a lot of Twitter traction.

We urge Friday's participants to take a brief survey. 

And we hope to see everyone at our fall event, topic TBD, and our 2014 spring conference. Please send any suggestions on topic, speakers, panelists, potential award winners and anything else to my email.

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