AN ANNUAL CIVIC RITUAL AND PARTICIPATORY ART PROJECT
The 2018 People's State of the Union will take place from January 25-February 4, 2018.
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 supplement the President’s stories by coming together in our own homes, schools, houses of worship, and community organizations to share our own take on the state of our union. Thousands of people in more than 350 communities have taken part over the last three years.
The People’s State of the Union has two main parts: Story Circles across the nation, 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. Then—inspired by these stories—an invited group of writers collaboratively composes the Poetic Address to the Nation, performed and broadcast live.
For #PSOTU 2018, Story Circle participants are invited to share their own take on the state of our union by reflecting on any of 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 gave you hope in the past year.
This year, Story Circles will take place from January 25-February 4, 2018. The Poetic Address will take place on April 15th. Download the toolkit to learn more about how to host a People's State of the Union Story Circle in your community.
DOWNLOAD THE #PSOTU18 TOOLKIT
- STEP 1: Download the 2018 Toolkit for instructions on how to host a Story Circle and all the information you need to pull off a successful event.
- STEP 2: Put your #PSOTU18 Event on the Map.
- STEP 3: Host your event and upload stories to the Story Portal.
- STEP 4: Stay posted for information on how to watch the Poetic Address to the Nation (and consider creating your own local Poetic Address!).
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.
TAKE PART IN AN ONLINE TRAINING
For Story Circle facilitators and scribes, the USDAC is offering free training sessions. Each training session will be no more than 90 minutes in length, combining presentations with interactive conversation. You’ll learn how to welcome people, manage time and space within the event, and you will meet people from across the country who are taking part in #PSOTU2018. By the end of your training call, 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.
All trainings will be held held at 3pm PST / 6pm EST. Select the one that will work for you
MORE ON #PSOTU18
In polarized times, being able to cross cultural and political divides and remain in dialogue is a worthy challenge. Who are we? What touches our hearts and minds? What do our communities need, and what do they need to hear from us? We may know our own answers, but do we know each other?
Hosting a Story Circle as part of the People's State of the Union is a simple, powerful way of bringing people together and reinforcing the deeply democratic idea that everyone’s story counts, overcoming the ignorance and fear that divide us. #PSOTU2018 is just what we need right now: an antidote to soundbites, screens, and fake news. Together, we’ll build a composite picture of the state of our union, celebrating what connects us and bringing our creativity to healing all that pulls us apart.
Read blogs about #PSOTU2018 below:
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.