Telling our stories – State of the Union story circles

When have you felt true belonging—or the opposite—in this country or in your community? Have you had an experience that showed you something new or important about the state of our union? Is there a time you stood together with people in your community? These questions were answered with tears and laughter at the State of the Union story circle hosted by Fools Mission and Transition Palo Alto on Sunday Jan 25 at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Redwood City.

The group included both recent immigrants and native born Americans. Each person shared a brief personal story that reflected on one of the questions. A common thread among the immigrants was coming to this country for a better life for themselves and their children. One woman spoke of her young daughter, recently diagnosed with diabetes, and how it is much easier for her to care for her daughter in the US. Another young woman spoke of her struggles to get an education in Mexico, and how blessed she feels to be in this country, where she has a better chance of getting an education. Others spoke of the violence in Ferguson and elsewhere, and the need for each of us to examine our own complicated feeling and actions.

More than 150 events nationwide contributed stories to a diverse group of 20 poets at the USDAC, who integrated them into a collective poem that went out on a live webcast on February 1. Check out this Fools Mission page with a link to the performance, as well as to the stories that were submitted: http://www.foolsmission.org/story-circles-peoples-state-of-the-union/

A second story circle was held on January 28 in Los Altos, with young people emerging as a common theme. One person expressed sorrow about the recent suicide of a Gunn high school student. Another spoke of his work as a teacher and the joys of connecting with groups of middle school and high school students. And another, a former English teacher, spoke about the memoirs that her students wrote and how moving they could be.

The stories circles were sponsored by the US Department of Art and Culture, an independent organization that promotes art and culture as a way to promote social change. For more information, go to http://peoplesstateoftheunion.usdac.us/.

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