American RadioWorks |
Divestment protest at University of Wisconsin-Madison, April 4, 2014. Photo: Light Brigade on Flickr.

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Across the world, college students are urging their institutions to “divest” from fossil fuels. This week we ask: is the divestment movement working?

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in collaboration with Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity

Encourage people to tell their own stories

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From: Elaine B., Memphis, TN

I tell stories to children who are falling behind academically in the public school, and I tell stories to women in the county correctional system. I provide opportunities for the students and inmates to share their personal stories, and I promote listening as a valuable skill. When people, young or old, are given the opportunity to tell their stories to other people who really listen, transformation happens. Poverty erodes self image and makes us think we do not matter, that we are invisible. By listening, neighbors, family members, teachers, co-workers and church members can pull each other out of poverty's destructive forces.

Last year I gave each of the children a disposable camera when they went home for the holiday break, instructing them to take pictures of their family. I told them I would develop the pictures and make an album for each child. They would be expected to stand up and tell us the story of "My Family and the Holidays." One boy used all 24 exposures taking pictures of the television. He took 24 pictures of 24 programs on television. Each child took pictures that included images of the television set. In every case the television was the most photographed member of the family and a central character in the holiday story.

This project turned out to be very telling about the children and their struggles to succeed in school. No one at home has the time or capacity to listen to the children, look into their faces and attend to their narratives and needs. Poverty robs mothers and fathers of their time for parenting. Poverty robs parents of their self worth and their dreams. So they finally give up on even trying to pass along anything positive. Face to face sessions of storytelling and story listening can open new windows for change and hope. Sitting in a safe circle where all stories are heard and respected as sacred gifts, we can hear people's dreams coming back to life. Each human being is so much more than what they possess or how much money they keep in the bank account. Each story is a reflection of power and purpose. A story shared is a story made real.


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American RadioWorks |
Divestment protest at University of Wisconsin-Madison, April 4, 2014. Photo: Light Brigade on Flickr.

Divestment on Campus

Across the world, college students are urging their institutions to “divest” from fossil fuels. This week we ask: is the divestment movement working?

Recent Posts

  • 05.20.15

    Can how you move change how you think?

    Scientists have long thought of the brain as a “control center” for the body – a kind of computer that dictates how we move. But what if how we walk and stand and gesture could actually change how we think?
  • 05.12.15

    Forest Schools

    What if one day a week, school was in the woods? On the podcast, Emily Hanford takes us to Vermont to understand why teachers wanted to take their students into the forest, and what the kids -- and the teachers -- are learning from it.
  • 05.06.15

    Exposing Conditions at Native Schools

    There are 183 federally-run Bureau of Indian Education schools in the nation, and about a third of these are in poor condition. Some students at BIE schools deal with poorly-insulated classrooms, holes in the roof, rodents, and other issues on a daily basis.
  • 04.29.15

    Green Teachers

    A generation ago, if you walked into an American classroom, you’d likely find a veteran teacher who'd been on the job for 15 years or more. Today you're more likely to find a brand-new teacher – someone who's been the job for a year or less.