Earlier this year a group of people gathered together in Boston and heard three personal stories related to guns.
The first came from Mark, a journalism professor who spoke of discovering “the force,” a deeper place of focus that came from competitive shooting and hunting, and which offered him the mindfulness to work through his life’s challenges.
The second from Elaine, an East-Coast’er who went to college in Texas and spoke of being “the other,” and its connection to her work on collaborating with the gun shop owner community on issues related to public health.
And finally there was Brother Lo, a community organizer and grandfather who spoke of losing his son Ali to gun violence, and how his loss gives special meaning to his work advocating for job opportunities for those in his community.
Our April event was experiment for us, not just in topic but also in format. We produced this in partnership with The Christian Science Monitor and the Public Conversations Project, together recruiting and coaching storytellers, booking a venue and creating a space for audience members (as facilitated by Public Conversations’ own Bob Stains) to engage each other in small groups.
And, some neat things happened as a result:
- Cricket Fuller, a journalist from The Monitor, wrote about her experience as an audience participant in an essay published on the Monitor’s website.
- Steve Seeche, a Public Conversations board member, met a gentleman in his participant group who teaches a gun safety course, and took a step into the unknown by joining him for a lesson; his blog posts on it here.
It’s these reflections, and interactions driven by a sense of curiosity, that drive our enthusiasm for this work.
Our next event is TBD, however in the meantime I’d love for you to check out some of the media published from our conversation on guns (linked above and below) and, if you have any comments, questions, or suggestions, I’d love to hear from you.
Here’s to continued curiosity.
We’ve spent the last few weeks speaking with and getting to know folks with unique and deep connections to guns, from folks at the West Springfield Firearm and Knife Show, to members of Mothers for Justice & Equality.
On the evening of Thursday April 11 we’re excited to present three individuals who we’ve come to know, and who’ve bravely volunteered to share their stories.
We’re also excited to produce this event in partnership with two great organizations: The Public Conversations Project, who will facilitate what we hope will be a deeper experience for you as audience members, and The Christian Science Monitor, who will help share this work with a larger audience (not to mention host us in their stunning venue).
Will you join us? Tickets (free) are required and space is limited. Reserve your spot at publicconversations.org/guns.
Last Thursday we opened up our second Mantle Project with a poem by 13th century poet Rumi which reads:
"Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about. Ideas, language, even the phrase ‘each other’ doesn’t make any sense."
Our hope for our second event was that we could help create that field and thanks to our storytellers such as a Patrick (Tea Party supporter) who told us about a confrontation with his son and learning the true meaning of love, and Linda (Occupy supporter) who told us about a trek to Everest base camp and coming to realize that her slow shuffle was her truth, it certainly feels like we got closer.
For those of you who were able to make it: we appreciate your support and please help us continue to improve The Mantle Project by giving us your feedback (one lucky survey-taker will win a $25 gift certificate to Amazon.com). Click here to take our survey.
For everyone else, check out a few snapshots from our event, below. Click here to view the full album.
The Mantle Project is a team effort. A big thank you to those who volunteered their time and effort to make last Thursday possible, notably Allison Daminger who helped with outreach and story coaching, Amanda Cayo who helped with marketing strategy and promotion, and of course our four storytellers: Alex Ingram, Patrick Humphries, Linda Jenkins, and Tammy Weitzman.
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With our next event coming up this Thursday, a little about the four good folks who have volunteered to share their stories with us.
They include one GOP supporter, one Tea Party supporter (who sits on the steering committee of the Greater Boston area group), and two Occupy Boston supporters (one of whom joined the camp in Dewey Square two weeks after it launched). More specifically they are (in no particular order):
- Alex, an Air Force Airman originally from Broxton Georgia who works in catering and as an internet radio producer
- Tammy, a Canada native who has lived in Boston for the last seven years and serves as an oncology social worker
- Patrick, a native of Iowa who works as a software engineer and has lived in Boston for the last 26 years
- Linda, a lawyer, mother, and grandmother who works as a Unitarian Universalist lay Minister
Every four years the Presidential election comes around and brings with it a unique moment of self reflection. We hope that our event this Thursday can contribute to that spirit through a fun, engaging, but also deeper exploration of the stories that shape us.
For more info on Thursday’s event and to RSVP come visit our Facebook event page.
We’d also like to show our storytellers as much support as possible so if you have any friends/family/colleagues who may be interested in our event we would much appreciate if you sent them our Facebook event link.
Thanks for your support and hope to see you this week!
Thursday October 18, 8-10pm
Cambridge YMCA Theater (Central Square)
820 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139 (Google Map)
Free entry / $10 suggested donation
RSVP + more info: http://on.fb.me/Ru46KP
We’ve booked a venue, recruited storytellers, and are scheduling story coaching workshops — this can only mean one thing: the production of our second Mantle Project event is under way.
Our last event had over 40 attendees and almost half of you responded to our follow-up survey — thank you!
Of the feedback you sent in, two themes surfaced: offer stories from multiple political perspectives, and give the audience an opportunity to ask questions.
With your feedback in mind, for our next event we’ve expanded our recruiting to include storytellers from across the political spectrum (from the Tea Party to Occupy Boston), and we’ll include a moderated Q&A.
We’re excited to tell you more about our next event in the days ahead and, in the meantime, mark your calendars for The Mantle Project II on Thursday October 18 at 8pm at the Cambridge YMCA in Central Square.
Oh, and check out (below) our beautiful new venue :D
To sign up for email updates from the Mantle Project, served fresh and right to your inbox, just follow this link.
Cap off your weekend with an evening of storytelling!
This Sunday we feature The Tea Party, or five storytellers from Greater Boston area Tea Party groups who have bravely volunteered to share stories of the life experiences that shaped them.
Sunday August 12, 7-9pm
Precinct Bar (back room) — no cover/free
70 Union Square, Somerville MA 02143
RSVP on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/events/207770866018798
What’s The Mantle Project?
It’s a social experiment where people share stories of life experiences that have shaped or reflect their values.
Why the name Mantle Project?
The word mantle has several relevant meanings, including the layer of rock below the Earth’s crust (or the values that lie below surface labels/affilitations); a shawl or covering (or the stories that we wear and take with us); and a responsibility that passes from one generation to the next (in the same ways that values sometimes do).
What’s your purpose?
To create a space for deeper understanding among diverse perspectives.
What’s the impact of a storytelling project?
A timeless question! What’s the impact of a documentary, a play, or a concert? Some would say it’s negligible; others would say it it touches us deeply and gives us a language for talking about important issues. You can guess which camp we fall into :)
Why storytelling and not say organizing a BBQ or holding a rally?
American psychologist Carl Rogers once said “what is most personal is most universal.” Storytelling is unique in how it provokes tellers to share a part of themselves and listeners to relate this to an experience in their life.
How is this relevant?
Today our media and politics seems to be increasingly polarized. This project intends to introduce a different space.
What are your metrics for success?
Satisfaction scores in post-event surveys, number of people who attend an event. The less tangible (and frankly more important) metrics include the space for reflection and understanding experienced by those who participate.
Thanks for reading!