When we start to explain what The Facing Project is as an organization, we can’t count the number of times people have said, “Oh, The Facing Project is an oral history!” Or how often folks have asked, “How is The Facing Project different from StoryCorps?”
While the Huffington Post did name The Facing Project one of three oral history projects to watch and the base of what we do hearkens back to the earliest traditions of storytelling, the model of The Facing Project goes far beyond the passing down of stories for entertainment and cataloging. The model is designed to connect people across socio-economic and political lines, challenge neighbors to carry the weight of each other’s stories, and create needed change within communities through the power of first-person stories and community conversations.
The biggest difference in our model is that each project is hyper-local—led by trained organizers—and writers are paired with storytellers to write the perspective of storytellers based on their experience as an individual facing an issue.
Since the forming of The Facing Project, nearly 30 communities across the country, seven college chapters, and more than 2,000 volunteers have used the model. These projects have led to the distribution of over 20,000 Facing Project books on various topics that have found their way into the hands of educators, state police trainers, and librarians to teach about homelessness, autism, and depression, just to name a few.
The stories have been used to change policies and develop spin-off initiatives—such as sleeping bag programs for the homeless and human trafficking art exhibits—and the stories have helped nonprofit partners leverage funds to further their missions.
Definitely beyond a traditional oral history project.
As we enter 2016 and are now a recognized nonprofit organization, The Facing Project will be able to help more communities spread their stories and create stronger dialogues and spin-off initiatives. In addition, we have several new plans for 2016 that will roll out in the coming months—three of which will launch in January:
- The #iSeeStories social media challenge;
- The Facing Stories Podcast on iTunes; and
- An online Facing Project store where one can find all of their storytelling gear.
Sorry, just teasers for now, but we will release information on each of these in the next two weeks. Stay tuned to learn more.
We’re excited for 2016. It will be the year to continue to show that Facing Projects are more than an oral history—these stories can be used to connect, change, and inspire people, communities, and the world.