How can empathetic listening help communities heal and overcome the divisive nature of man-made disasters? – Dr. Rebecca Clausen

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A group of community members — teachers, social workers, geologists, youth and family advocates – have come together to address the above question. Last month we formed The Animas Listening and Empowerment Project to discuss how to provide a forum for people to communicate about the Animas River spill in a respectful and empowering way.  For our first event, we collaborated with Animas High School students who were conducting Story Corps interviews with people affected in different ways by the spill.  The public event – “Voices from the Animas” – attracted around 200 people, offering their unique responses to various questions and prompts around the room in both English and Spanish.  As folks wandered around the room listening to Story Corps interviews on laptops, many side conversations developed that brought people together in comfortable and spontaneous ways.  This event was an important lesson in realizing how important it is to “set the table”, and let the dialogue flow.  We are hoping to bring this forum to other communities impacted by the spill. Please share your perspective, students are still collecting interviews!

Contact Jessica McCallum to get involved:  jessica.mccallum@animashighschool.com

StoryCorps’ mission is to provide people of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share and preserve the stories of our lives. We do this to remind one another of our shared humanity, to strengthen and build the connections between people, to teach the value of listening, and to weave into the fabric of our culture the understanding that everyone’s story matters. At the same time, we are creating an invaluable archive for future generations.

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