AN ANNUAL CIVIC RITUAL AND PARTICIPATORY ART PROJECT
The 2019 People's State of the Union took place from January 25 -February 3, 2019.
In January of most years, the President delivers a State of the Union Address highlighting the past year and suggesting priorities for the coming year. It’s a broadcast from one to many. But democracy is a conversation, not a monologue. Understanding the state of our union takes We the People reflecting in our own communities on our challenges and opportunities locally, nationally, and globally.
Since 2015, the USDAC has hosted the People’s State of the Union as an invitation to build bonds of empathy and connection by coming together in our own homes, schools, houses of worship, and community organizations and sharing our own take on the state of our union. Thousands of people in more than 500 communities have taken part.
The People’s State of the Union has two main parts: Story Circles across the country, and a collaboratively composed Poetic Address to the Nation. The USDAC offers toolkits and online trainings to support anyone hosting a Story Circle, bringing people together to share stories from their own experience. Stories are uploaded to an online story portal where they can be shared and browsed and used to inspire an array of creative responses. This year, rather than produce one single Poetic Address to the Nation, we are decentralizing the process and inviting communities everywhere to create their own local Poetic Addresses or other creative responses to #PSOTU19 Stories. The Toolkit offers comprehensive instructions for how to do all of this!
For #PSOTU2019, Story Circle participants shared their own take on the state of our union by reflecting on the following prompts (or creating their own):
Share a story about an experience that gave you insight into the state of our union.
Share a story about a time you felt a sense of belonging—or the opposite—to this nation or your community.
Share a story of an experience that inspired you to take action in the past year.
DOWNLOAD THE #PSOTU2019 TOOLKIT
Download the 2019 Toolkit for instructions on how to host a Story Circle and all the information you need to pull off a successful event.
Whether you're hosting a few folks in your own home, a dozen simultaneous circles in a community center, or inviting members of your organization or network to host their own circles, the Toolkit explains absolutely everything you need to know to organize, promote, and pull off your event.
STORY CIRCLE TRAINING
The USDAC offers free training sessions for Story Circle facilitators and scribes. Each training session combines presentations with interactive conversation. You’ll learn how to welcome people, manage time and space within the event. By the end of your training, you will be prepared to facilitate a Story Circle!
Story Circles are often understood as deriving from indigenous traditions. There are many variations. We give special thanks and credit to John O’Neal of Junebug Productions (and formerly Free Southern Theater) and to Roadside Theater who have been central in developing the practice for use in creating original performance and in community telling and listening projects.
Participatory training sessions for #PSOTU2019 are concluded, but you can learn all you need by watching a recording here: https://vimeo.com/304946773
Enter this password: StoryCircles2019!
DOWNLOADABLE ART & POSTERS
What do We The People want, need, or demand? As part of #PSOTU2019, we partnered with artists to create downloadable signs that you can print, customize, and post in your Story Circle or anywhere in your community. Try printing out copies of the posters, asking people to fill in the blanks, and taking photos holding them to post on social media.
Download the PSOTU2019 toolkit above to access high-resolution copies of these images as well as sample social media images.
PAST PSOTU ARCHIVES & VIDEOS
In 2016, Story Circles took place nationwide from January 23-31. The Poetic Address to the Nation was performed and broadcast from The Painted Bride in Philadelphia. Watch the video for excerpts from Story Circles and the Poetic Address. The full broadcast is available here.
The Inaugural People's State of the Union took place from January 23-30, 2015. The Poetic Address to the Nation was performed and broadcast from the Bowery Poetry Club in New York City. Watch the video for excerpts from Story Circles and the Poetic Address.
In 2018, Story Circles took place nationwide from January 25 - February 3. We celebrated The 2018 Poetic Address to the Nation in partnership with the the Public Theater in New York City.