The People’s State of the Union is giving a voice to unheard citizens - Generocity Philly


Jan. 25, 2017 3:27 pm

The People’s State of the Union is giving a voice to unheard citizens

Starting this Friday, the story circles will offer an outlet to connect, empathize and build relationships in the face of a challenged nation.

The People's State of the Union starts this week.

(Courtesy photo)

Democracy is a conversation, not a monologue.

This last year has unearthed a volcano of advocacy and drive to connect with ways to fight racism, inequality, healthcare issues and sexism. Starting Jan. 27, the People’s State of the Union will offer an outlet to connect, empathize and build relationships in the face of a challenged nation.

Hosted by the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture (USDAC), a non-governmental, people-powered, grassroots action network, the People’s State of the Union plays on the traditional State of the Union address given by the president. This State of the Union gives all people the opportunity to voice their experiences as residents of the country.

At the heart of the USDAC is its mission to incite creativity and social imagination to shape our culture of empathy, equity and belonging. To that end, the People’s State of the Union consists of two parts.

First, citizens host gatherings across the country called story circles, in which people are encouraged to do one of the following:

  • Share a story about something you have experienced that gave you insight into the state of our union.
  • Share a story about a time you felt a sense of belonging — or the opposite — to this nation.
  • Share a story about a time you broke through a barrier to connect with someone different from yourself or with whom you disagreed.

Then, these stories are transcribed and shared, and over the next few months a group of poets will take these experiences and turn them into a performance piece: the “Poetic Address to the Nation.”

Here’s a look at last year’s “Poetic Address,” which was held here in Philadelphia and filmed by our friends at PhillyCAM.

There are a few story circles already scheduled at the Philadelphia Theatre Company at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre on Friday, Jan. 27, and Tattoed Mom’s on Sunday, Jan. 29 —  you can see a map that’s constantly being updated here.

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After this campaign cycle, there is a huge need to shed light on the nation’s recent past and immediate future, and to share our experiences to build empathy and relationship with our neighbors and fellow citizens. All people, artists and non-artists, are invited to gather a few friends for a story circle, or to join in on one of the events already scheduled, to reflecting in our own communities on our challenges and opportunities locally, nationally and globally.


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