LV Communications: Stories that Make a Difference

Looking for an experienced communications professional and oral historian to help your campaign, organization, or family to tell your story? 

OHMA alum Leyla Vural has lauched a new venture, LV Communications: Stories that Make a Difference. Check it out.

And read about Leyla's vision:

I am most interested in our shared efforts to make the world a more just place. I studied oral history (and in May 2015 earned an M.A. in it from Columbia University) because I wanted to learn the newest methods in the oldest of traditions: listening to people share their experience. Life stories are about understanding the past, to be sure, but they're also about shaping the future. Oral history helps ordinary people (Studs Terkel called us the "etceteras") put ourselves directly on the record. That by itself is important, but listening to life stories also is a way to imagine a brighter day and sharing those stories is a way to push for change.

One of the things I love about oral history is that it’s communal. By definition, you can’t work alone if your work is about listening to people. In this way, oral history mirrors all efforts at social change and, of course, life itself. It’s not only better with other people, it’s impossible without them. Social justice may be a forever project, but together we can keep bending that arc of history while we find strength in one another and have some fun as we go.

Alumni News

This week we’ve had quite a lot of alumni announcements to share with our readers:

Alumna Sara Cohen Fournier contributed to a recently published collection of articles, entitled Beyond Testimony and Trauma: Oral History in the Aftermath of Mass Violence (ed. Steven High). The book surrounds ways to engage dealing with trauma and moving beyond in long form oral histories. It is based on the research "Life Stories of Montrealers displaced by war, genocides and human rights violations," which took place for 5 years in Montreal and collected stories from Rwanda, Haiti, Holocaust, and North African Jewery.

Alumna Liza Zapol has been working in collaboration with artists on a project on Embodied Mapping in the Lower East Side, sponsored by iLAND and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. This weekend (Friday, April 17 and Saturday, April 18, 2015) they will be hosting a symposium about this work and you can participate in some collaborative workshops for free. Check it out!

On May 14th and 15th, the Manhattan Repertory Theatre in New York is hosting full productions of alumnus Sam Robson’s play Timothy and Mary. Robson wrote the play based on oral history interviews he conducted for his OHMA thesis, for which he interviewed people with dementia and their family members and caregivers. 

Alumna Sarah Loose, co-founder of Groundswell: Oral History for Social Change, was awarded the Radcliffe Oral History Grant this year. Her project, Breastfeeding & Migration, explores the connections between motherhood and migration—specifically the impacts of immigration and immigration policy/enforcement on infant feeding practices. Using a combination of oral history, photography, community organizing, participatory research and popular education, the project aims to:

  • document and share the experiences of immigrant mothers (especially low-income and undocumented immigrant mothers),
  • identify barriers to immigrant parents’ right to choose how to feed their infants and potential solutions, and
  • support the efforts of immigrant mothers in advocating for their health, the health of their babies, and their basic human rights, dignity, and self-determination.

Ultimately, Breastfeeding & Migration seeks to contribute to organizing efforts at the intersections of gender and racial justice, workplace and immigrant rights, and maternal, infant and public health.

Alumna Elisabeth Sydor is hosting a staged reading of her thesis, Stories from the Carriage Trade, on Saturday, April 25, 2015 at 8 pm. Hear inside tales of the carriage business in the 1980’s, when Hell's Kitchen's horse-drawn carriages still trotted the streets of New York City any time of the day or night. The evening will be narrated by former carriage drivers Dave Forshtay, Maggie Goodman, Bryan Northam, Åsa Jahnke Stephens, and Elisabeth Sydor - from the book of their oral histories and Elisabeth's written recollections, developed from her masters thesis for OHMA. Free admission and no minimum, but purchase of drinks/dinner go toward the room rental - much appreciated!

Alumna Crystal Baik will be the keynote speaker at Williams College's Asian American Popular Culture conference this week (sponsored by Asian Americans Students in Action, or AASiA)-- one of the first Asian/American studies conferences organized by small liberal arts colleges in the Northeast.

Alums Erica Fugger and Anna Kaplan were elected to the board of Oral History in the Mid-Atlantic Region (OHMAR) at their annual conference last week!

At the OHMAR conference, April 9 and 10, 2015. Left to right: Erica Fugger, Cameron Vanderscoff, Cameron Donald.

At the OHMAR conference, April 9 and 10, 2015. Left to right: Erica Fugger, Cameron Vanderscoff, Cameron Donald.

It’s a pleasure to see our alums’ innovative work flourish in such a diverse array of fields—from dance, to theater, to pure oral history!