Posts Tagged ‘Digital Stories’

Earlier, this year, Exhale formed a partnership with our Pro-Voice High-Five awardee for Leadershipthe Center for Digital Storytelling – to pilot a workshop where women could create their own digital stories about having had an abortion and being an abortion listener.  Through this workshop, we learned a lot about the role stigma plays in public storysharing, what it means to ask women to tell their abortion stories, as well as for an audience to listen to stories, and the experience of sharing personal abortion stories.

As part of our ongoing learning process about public abortion story-sharing, we took the stories on the road last week and showed them to a new audience.  The Abortion Access Project invited us to share our stories with advocates and providers in Seattle.  Exhale leaders, including me, our Director of Programs, Jovida Ross; Board Member Julie Davdison-Gomez, and Pro-Voice Ambassador Erika Jackson, had an engaging discussion about the process of creating the stories, and our collective ideas for what we can all do to promote respectful forums for storysharing.

We asked the audience to record their responses as they watched each digital story.  Here is just a sampling of the dozens of responses we received:

  • “Reminded me how much abortion is interwoven into so many other stories.  It’s not just about the abortion.”
  • “Made me think about what we gain by being a part of other women’s abortion experiences.”
  • “The story exemplifies the duality of regret and relief and transforms it into something new.”
  • “It is always such a good reminder that the most powerful thing we can do for someone is to let them be with their feelings whatever they are.”
  • “Inspired.  I related to her story.”

Jovida Ross introduces the stories:

Erika Jackson shares her experience of making the story while I listen:

Erika, Jovida, Deb from AAP, and me afterwards:

Thank you for hosting us Seattle!  We had a great time and learned a lot.


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In celebration of our 5th Anniversary of expanded service, Exhale presented a very special award – our “Pro-Voice High-Five” – to five individuals and organizations who have made significant contributions to creating a more supportive and respectful social climate for women who have had abortions.  You can read all about the awardees here.

We celebrated our anniversary and all the awardees in an intimate San Francisco ceremony at the end of August.

Here’s a glimpse:

Board President Jen Rudy celebrates the announcement of fellow board member Julie Davidson-Gomez that we have surpassed our summer fundraising goal!

Tracy Weitz and Kate Cockrill from ANSIRH celebrate their award for New Research with a High-Five!

Amy Hill from the Center for Digital Storytelling celebrates her award for Leadership with Julie.

Julie Evans accepts the award for Courage from Jen in honor of all women who have told their abortion story.

Exhale Friends

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For over eight years, Exhale has been a confidential listener to the stories  of thousands of women and men, after an abortion.  Yet, rarely are these voices heard in public discussion.  Thus, the evolution of our pro-voice agenda that aims to transform public dialogue so that it is grounded in the voices and experiences of people who have had abortions.

But, how do we go from confidential listening to public storytelling around abortion given the great risks women and men face if they share their story with abortion?

Enter our partnership with the Center for Digital Storytelling who is the leader on how to do storytelling around stigmatized or sensitive issues in ways that empower and support storytellers.  We were honored to learn from them in a recent digital storytelling workshop we held where women told their stories of listening and abortion.

We are honored to give a “Pro-Voice High-Five” to the Center for Digital Storytelling for Leadership.  I hope you enjoy my interview with its Executive Director, Joe Lambert, and the Director of their Silence Speaks program, Amy Hill.

Staff of the Center for Digital Storytelling

Aspen: Tell me about how the Center for Digital Storytelling came to exist and about your mission.


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Exhale has learned a lot about storytelling around abortion and we have had the chance to work with some fantastic mentors and experts on the topic of stories.  We’ve all gotten together to offer a panel at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas next March. It’s the place to be!

Our idea is “Ethical Storytelling for Social Change. ” If selected, I will be on a panel moderated by Thaler Pekar, and alongside Amy Hill of the Center for Digital Storytelling and Jeff Simmermon of AndIAmNotLying.com.

We will answer the following questions in our panel:

  • What can be learned from successful examples of online story sharing by previously marginalized communities?
  • What do organizations need to consider if they advocate open story-sharing online?
  • What are the privacy considerations of storytellers?
  • How can advocacy organizations ensure a respectful partnership with storytellers?
  • What is ethical storytelling practice for advocacy organizations?

Learn more about the panel here.  Most importantly – we need your VOTE!

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Please join me in celebrating a very special anniversary.

2010 marks the 5th Anniversary of our talkline’s expansion from a limited Bay-Area, bilingual service into a national, multilingual one that is available every day!

It is with the help of people like you – our supporters – that, five years ago, we were able to respond to demand from women and men throughout the United States seeking a safe place to talk after an abortion.  I write to invite you to make a special gift to Exhale in commemoration of this significant time in our history.

We grow Exhale and our free programs in direct response to the needs of our callers.  Part of what motivates and inspires us as an organization is finding new ways to respond to our callers’ needs with fresh ideas and innovative projects that make our pro-voice mission real in their every day lives.  Listening carefully to our callers over the last five-years of national, multilingual service has led Exhale to:

  • Develop Post-Abortion E-Cards that help loved ones respectfully acknowledge the personal abortion experience of someone they care about.
  • Grow an Online Community that facilitates supportive connections among women who have had abortions.
  • Advocate for Social Science Research that deepens our understanding of the social and emotional experience of abortion.
  • Create Storytelling Forums that ensure personal abortion stories are heard with dignity and respect.
  • Provide Thought Leadership that offers our nation new opportunities to transform conflict and create abortion peace.

The reality is that at this exciting moment Exhale faces real challenges.  Our revenue from private foundations is down and our call volume is up. We are faced with the challenge of declining revenue and increasing demand.  Exhale is using this difficult financial time to be the organization we’ve always dreamed about becoming.  We are putting our organizational values and beliefs into practice and strengthening the culture (risk-taking, abundance, excellence) we have worked so hard to build.

Exhale is an organization of copious strengths and assets and with the generous contributions of people like you, we can leverage them in new, creative ways moving forward.  For every dollar Exhale receives as a donation, we turn it into $2.50 of volunteer service.  We more than double the value of your gift.  Over a third of our budget is contributed through the time our volunteers donate to our mission.

Please give generously today and help Exhale thrive for the next five.

We are so grateful for the support we have received since the day we first launched the talkline in 2002 and in the five years since we significantly expanded our service. We know that together with supporters like you we will thrive for the next five – and many more!  In commemoration of our 5th Anniversary of listening to women from around the country (and beyond), in multiple languages, every day of the week, I invite you to support Exhale by making a special donation today.

Our goal is to raise $15,000 by August 31st. Help us reach our goal and make a donation today!

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* Post by Kristen Schultz Oliver, Exhale Director of Programs

In February this year, five exceptional women, all Exhale volunteers, decided to join in a new adventure: making their own digital stories about abortion and listening! For people who care about improving the public dialogue on abortion, the storytellers now have some valuable reflections and realizations about the journey they took.


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At our private screening of five digital stories, we asked the audience members – friends and family of the storytellers and a few close allies of Exhale – to share their thoughts, feelings, questions and concerns as they watched the stories.  Many of the questions they posed were discussed and answered in the Q & A with the storytellers.

Here is a sampling of audience responses:

“The difference in the way the stories were told – some explicit, some not even mentioning the word abortion, really struck me as reflective of how abortion is – different for every single person. The power partially lay in not juxtaposing, but grouping them… showed what abortion is. Beautiful, brave, and loved the digital aspect – the film medium really mesmerized me. Thank you to the storytellers.”


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