Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Listening’

Exhale volunteers are people who care deeply about the wellbeing of others and who are motivated by making a meaningful contribution to a more peaceful world. Our volunteers come from all walks of life and range in age from teens to seniors. Ethnically and religiously diverse, volunteers are students, parents, and professionals with full personal lives. At Exhale, they work beside others with shared values and grow as people and changemakers.

Exhale volunteers Jackie and Danielle joined our Director of Programs, Jovida Ross, at the UC Berkeley Service Fair on Wednesday, September 7th to recruit new volunteers for our next training.

Our award-winning volunteer program is currently recruiting new volunteers for our next training, scheduled to begin Sept. 21.  APPLICATIONS ARE DUE SEPTEMBER 10TH.   Check out our listing on VolunteerMatch for more information on how to apply.

Read more about how Volunteers Lead the Way at Exhale on the VolunteerMatch blog.

Read Full Post »

Exhale is a community of people with personal abortion experiences and when it comes to storysharing, we advocate that:  1) women who have had abortions must have the ability to control their own narratives in our public discourse; and 2) that we must have authority and decision-making over when and how our stories are used by advocates.

Thaler Pekar has been writing about the ethical sharing of stories in a series of blog posts; and her insights offer critical thinking for our community members and the advocates who seek to have access to our stories.

In a two-part series in PhilanTopic, Thaler outlines the concept of Ethical StorySharing, in Part 1:

Because stories are powerful, and because they are wholly owned by the person who shares them, we have an ethical obligation to use story in ways that do no harm. Whether we are asking for stories to better understand an organizational challenge, to use in our organizational communications, or for an advocacy campaign, our goal should be to empower, not exploit…

The need to refrain from treating story as a commodity goes beyond nonprofit and advocacy work; it should inform all your work with narrative. True narrative intelligence respects the sharer of the story and recognizes that his or her story is a unique part of them that cannot, and should not, be taken and shared without permission.

In Ethical StorySharing, Part 2, Thaler gives more advice to advocates who seek to work with stories:

Thinking about the stories you’re not hearing is critical to the ethical use of story. Do you have a responsibility to seek them out? Also, do you plan to label and publicly present the stories you do gather? And if so, how will the context affect the way the audience perceives those stories?…

Or you may be working with a stigmatized population, in which case you have a special responsibility to protect the sharer of the story. For example, you have an ethical obligation to share any knowledge you may have about what could happen to the person, personally or professionally, if they decide to share their story. Might you need to provide for the person’s safety? Does the person sharing his or her story understand how s/he could lose control over the context in which the story is shared, especially in super-public places like YouTube?

In “Working with Stories,” on the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Thaler writes about the concept of empathetic engagement, first described by Sam Gregory of WITNESS:

Develop and engage a keen sense of empathy. Consider what people physically and emotionally need in order to share their stories. Make certain that people are in no way coerced into sharing a story, and explore and protect against any possibilities that the teller may be stigmatized, or even harmed, because he or she has shared a story.

Remember that each individual wholly owns his or her stories. Personal stories are not commodities, to be taken from one person and given to another, in exchange for reimbursement of some sort…Remember, too, that the audience is a partner in the story sharing. Create conditions favorable to the listener fully receiving and making sense of the story.

Understand that story begets story. Story is a contagion: By sharing a story, you will elicit stories in response. Keep this in mind, creating both the time and physical requirements that respect and enable a flow of stories.

In order to hear the real range of people’s complex experiences and emotions, you must avoid communicating that only certain stories are acceptable, welcome, and valued.  If you are too descriptive about the types of stories you want to hear, you may not hear anything at all.

Sagely, Thaler writes:

Refrain from starting a narrative project with a predetermined sense of the stories you will hear. When stories are elicited with honesty and benevolence (and they must be!), you will most likely be surprised, delighted, and frightened by what you hear. Commit yourself to the journey, not to the product.

Finally, in “Pro-Voice and Pro-Chaos” in PhilanTopic, Thaler describes how Pro-Voice is inherently a practice of Ethical StorySharing:

Being “pro-voice” means being anti-predetermined story. The people who work with and support Exhale understand that embracing reality is the only authentic choice for those advocating for sustainable conflict resolution and a more peaceful social climate. Imagine if more advocates let go of their fear of being surprised, contradicted, or losing control and looked to solicit and share stories that didn’t necessarily fit predetermined agendas. In their representation of the complexity of reality, the resulting stories might appear to be chaotic. But the odds are excellent that out of that chaos, profound insight would follow.

To learn more about Thaler and her thinking on Ethical StorySharing, follow her on Twitter: @thaler.

Read Full Post »

Laura Flanders, host of GRITtv, took a public stand as Pro-Voice yesterday.  In her latest feature she encourages her audience to “Spark a Movement that’s Pro-Voice!Laura continues, “Talk may not heal all that ails us – and our politics – but it’s certainly true that where abortion’s concerned, we could do with less grandstanding about “gag rules” and more honest listening – and talk.”

Check out Laura’s interview above with Exhale’s Executive Director, Aspen Baker, and Natalia Koss-Vallejo of MTV’s “No Easy Decision“; and give thanks to Laura in the comments for her public stand alongside all women who have had abortions.

Keep the Momentum Growing: Your investment in Exhale means more influencers like Laura taking a public stand for a Pro-Voice future; and more opportunities for leaders like Natalia to share their stories. We need your partnership today to raise $15,000 by August 19th. If you’ve never given to Exhale before, your gift will be matched for a limited time, up to $2,500, by a long-time donor.

There is no better time to support the Pro-Voice Momentum!

As this exciting movement expands, we each have our own opportunity to grow the Pro-Voice message and keep women and men with personal abortion experiences at the center of their own stories. How will you use your influence to grow the Pro-Voice Momentum? What story would you want to tell?

Read Full Post »

Dear Friends & Pro-Voice Allies,

There’s nothing quite like a partnership with MTV to get the word out!

Months after we worked with MTV on their groundbreaking special “No Easy Decision;” months after the Pro-Voice community stood together in peace taking a public stand besides the young women sharing their stories through “16 & Loved;” and months after the New York Times reported on our efforts and helped share our story… the word keeps spreading.

Our message is out. If you have a personal experience with abortion, Exhale is a community that welcomes you with love and respect.

Now, let’s work together to make sure this message reaches the people who need it most: young women and men with personal abortion experiences. Exhale has been working with our technical partners to develop a brand-new online public platform that will engage our growing community of Pro-Voice peacemakers. We expect to launch the first phase in the fall, with more phases launched throughout the next year. You’ve probably already noticed some changes in the way we communicate with you, such as receiving email from Exhale, rather than just me. Thanks to the support of people like you who have helped to sustain and grow Exhale, we have been able to invest in new leaders and now, there are more voices, ambassadors, and peacemakers speaking for the Pro-Voice movement than ever before!

Our use of technology and social media is expanding along with the Pro-Voice movement, because we know how important technology is for our community of women who have had abortions.  Technology is critical to our ability to tell our own stories with abortion and be heard with dignity and respect.

We need your support with this next phase.  We are about to launch our new platform for online engagement with the Pro-Voice movement. To be successful, we need to raise an additional $15,000 by August 19th.  I’m hoping you will jump in.

Can you make a donation to Exhale today and accelerate the Pro-Voice Momentum?

With your support, we will reach more young women and men with our message of love and respect.  Our new online tools will seed and grow new Pro-Voice Ideas; leverage and expand Pro-Voice Innovations; grow and support new Pro-Voice Leadership; and strengthen the impact of our Pro-Voice Community so that our love grows more powerful than anger and hate.

“16 & Loved” wasn’t just a one-time project; it points the way forward, demonstrating the possibilities for transforming the culture around abortion. You know that Exhale has a long history of taking important risks and producing exceptional results: from the original launch of the talkline to our latest partnership with MTV.  Now is the time to take another leap and keep the momentum going. We are ready to do it again. Are you?

Please donate to Exhale today.

Aspen Baker

Executive Director at Exhale

Read Full Post »

Jovida Ross

By Jovida Ross, Exhale’s Director of Programs

I first came out as Queer when I was 17. At first I told a few close friends; when that went OK I told more people. Then I was out socially. I told my parents; moved in with a girlfriend for the first time; and eventually I became a leader in an LGBTQ organization.

Each of those steps brought a new coming out process: mustering my courage, taking the risk to speak my truth without knowing what response I would get, and living with the consequences. I’m fortunate that my experience has been overwhelmingly positive, with very few instances of shaming or overt discrimination.

Yet still, every time I find myself in a context where people assume I am straight, I face the question of whether I should come out yet again.

As ESPN contributor Mary Buckheit recently told NPR:

Most people think of a person’s coming out as one momentous day, or one unnerving phone call home, or one blurted sentence, even. But the truth is you come out a thousand times. (more…)

Read Full Post »

By Nikko Merlander, Exhale Counselor

Nikko Merlander

As a volunteer with Exhale since early 2008, I have heard time and time again that women and men using Exhale’s services were grateful for Exhale’s support. Yet, as a social worker who is interested in the evaluation and effectiveness of services, I wanted to know more about why Exhale’s services seemed to be so well-received. I saw an opportunity for mutual learning—to both dive into research that is important to me and to contribute to Exhale’s ongoing learning about what works for the women reaching out for post-abortion support.

I created a survey to explore women’s experiences receiving services from Exhale. This was a chance for the women taking the survey to be heard, anonymously, in a larger arena.  What I most hoped for was that the feedback survey respondents gave could be used to give direction and guidance to professionals and organizations in the abortion field across the United States. What better way to understand how to improve post-abortion services than to listen to the needs and experiences of those who have had an abortion experience?

And so the women spoke! Survey respondents overwhelmingly stated that the most important aspects of their experiences with Exhale were those that connected them to other women, validated their experiences, and empowered them in finding well-being. Most simply put, respondents seemed to be saying that they come to Exhale to receive non-judgmental services that value their unique experiences while also reassuring them that they are not alone. (more…)

Read Full Post »

By Susan Lehman, Exhale Counselor & 2010 Rachel Falls Compassion Award honoree

This piece was written as part of the Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice‘s Strong Families initiative, as apart of their Mama’s Day Blog series and cross posted at On The Issues Magazine.

As the mother of grown children, I have basked in the annual glow of Mother’s Day recognition for a long time. Both my family and my community offer me blessings and praise for raising and providing for my children. But one of my most deeply maternal choices, my abortion, does not warrant the same recognition.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »