Voice of Witness San Francisco Learning Community Gathering

Posted on March 19, 2014 |

Saturday, April 26th from 9-12:30

849 Valencia St. San Francisco, CA

VoW Learning Community

Using the Voice Witness Education Program goals of literacy, communication, community engagement, and critical thinking as a starting point, educators from around the Bay Area will explore essential questions and share their experiences related to oral history-based education. The morning will feature an informal keynote address by 826 National CEO Gerald Richards, an opportunity to connect with members of the Voice of Witness Learning Community in Chicago, and discounted educator “bundles” of Voice of Witness books and teacher resources. For more information, or to RSVP email Cliff Mayotte, Education Program Director atcliff.mayotte@voiceofwitness.org.

Amplifying Unheard Voices: Summer 2014 Oral History Training for Classroom and Community Educators

Posted on March 3, 2014 |

Training postcard 2014 FRONT(2)

Communication Arts and Sciences at Berkeley High School, 1980 Allston Way, Berkeley, CA 94703

For directions, visit: http://bhs.berkeleyschools.net/ 

June 23 – 26
9:30 am – 4:30 pm

This unique 4-day training will highlight the power of personal narrative and provide educators with the tools to conduct oral history projects in their classrooms and communities. Workshop participants will engage in an interactive process that introduces the skills, ethics, and social significance of creating oral history, as exemplified by Voice of Witness and other leading practitioners in the field.


Our sliding scale tuition makes the training accessible for a broad range of educators.
Please pay what your school, community, or organization can support!


• Conduct and share an oral history interview
• Hone transcribing and editing skills
• Read and discuss narratives from the Voice of Witness book series
• Incorporate activities from The Power of the Story: The Voice of Witness Teacher’s Guide to Oral History 
• Work in small groups to share educational strategies and best practices
• Work with members of the Voice of Witness staff and prominent local oral history/humanities educators The training is geared towards new and experienced educators alike, and is particularly useful for teachers of history, social studies, social justice, English and the arts. Amplifying Unheard Voices aligns with several Common Core Curricular Standards, particularly in the areas of Reading History and Informational Texts, Speaking and Listening, and Language, in addition to promoting cultural competency, literacy, and critical thinking skills. The training is also relevant for community cultural workers, non profit organizations, advocates and artists.


After completion of the training, participants will be better able to empower their communities to create their own oral history projects, including:

• Books
• Photo essays
• Podcasts
• Websites and blogs
• Live performances


Download registration form here

Cliff Mayotte, Education Program Director, Voice of Witness


“From sharing deep-reaching stories of our lives to hands-on technical training, the Voice of Witness workshop also offered a nourishing space for professional renewal.”

- Shanti Elliot, Director of Community Connections, Francis W. Parker School, Chicago, IL 

“Oral history, and the literacy skills that go along with it, should be built into the map of what all teachers teach.”

- Trevor Gardner, Lead Humanities Teacher, Envision Academy, Oakland, CA 

“ It was an amazing professional development experience. I learned so much about the power of stories and the art and craft of bringing out voices that might otherwise be silenced or overlooked.”

- Amy Crawford, Communication Arts and Sciences, Berkeley High School 

“The Voice of Witness training provides insightful guidance in unearthing our stories: in finding our own voice as educators, researchers, and community leaders… A hands-on learning experience that strengthens our ability to listen, connect, recognize.”

- Juliana Delgado Lopera, Writer/Editor

Call for Submissions: Say it Forward

Posted on February 6, 2014 |

Say It Forward: The Voice of Witness Community Guide to Oral History
Call for Submissions

The Voice of Witness Education Program needs your help developing our new book, Say it Forward. This book is intended to be a “report from the field” of social justice-based oral history, and will serve as a resource for people interested in creating community storytelling projects of their own. Geared toward beginners, Say it Forward will give voice to the many approaches, strategies, and challenges that communities experience when engaging with powerful, unheard stories.

We are currently seeking coordinators—people embarking on or planning their own oral history/storytelling projects with community groups and organizations—to work with us on a section of the book devoted to project case studies. These case studies will include thoughtful reflection on the experience of the project’s coordinator and participants (people sharing their oral histories) as well as interview excerpts from the oral history project in question.

WHAT WE OFFER: Voice of Witness will provide primary instructions and materials in oral history training, guidance, and mentorship through all aspects of the project. We will edit your chapter in adherence to the Voice of Witness style guide and will be responsible for the publication and promotion of the book. Each case study facilitator will receive two complimentary copies of the book upon publication.

WHAT WE NEED: When your project is complete, we’ll ask you to submit a 10-15 page write-up of your experience with a focus on the process, addressing essential questions such as: What was the experience like for you as a facilitator? What was it like for the participants? What unexpected challenges arose? Which communication strategies were useful in creating a safe space for difficult conversations? Which moments were surprising? A first draft of your completed chapter will be due in October of 2014.

SAY IT FORWARD CURRENT STATUS: Voice of Witness is currently working with coordinators doing oral history projects with the following groups and organizations:

• a post-release theater program for young men (18-24) exiting jail
• the fishing community of Santa Cruz, California
• a group of Oakland students working to create alternate narratives of their city
• undocumented Muslims in the Bay Area
• people wrongfully convicted and exonerated for arson crimes
• current and former residents of Fukushima, Japan

If you have a project in mind (or in the works) that you think would be a good fit as a chapter in our book, please send a 1-2 page proposal summarizing your project (including a timeline) to Cliff Mayotte. The deadline for submitting a proposal is March 15, 2014.

Protected: Podcast Clip: Dave Eggers in Conversation with Teresa Martinez of “Inside This Place”

Posted on January 2, 2014 |

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Dec. 5th & 6th San Francisco events for “High Rise Stories: Voices from Chicago Public Housing”

Posted on December 3, 2013 |

Join Voice of Witness and editor Audrey Petty in San Francisco to celebrate our latest book release! In the gripping first-person accounts of High Rise Stories, former residents of Chicago’s iconic public housing projects describe life in the now-demolished high rises. These stories of community, displacement, and poverty in the wake of gentrification give voice to those who have long been ignored, but whose hopes and struggles exist firmly at the heart of our national identity.

Thursday, December 5th, 2013
Voice of Witness in Conversation with Mother Jones
Editor Audrey Petty discusses the latest VOW release High Rise Stories with Mother Jones Research Editor, Maddie Oatman
8:00 pm. 826 Valencia
826 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
Free and open to the public

Friday, December 6th, 2013
Editor Audrey Petty discusses High Rise Stories at SPUR
Please join VOW and SPUR members for this lunchtime event
12:30 pm. SPUR Urban Center
654 Mission Street (between 3rd St. and New Montgomery)
San Francisco, CA 94105-4015
Free and open to the public


Past High Rise Stories events include . . .

Monday, September 16, 7 pm
Unity Temple, 875 Lake Street, Oak Park, IL
Voice of Witness and BookTable present Audrey Petty in conversation with Alex Kotlowitz at Unity Temple as part of the Writers at Wright series. For more information and to purchase tickets, please click here.

Friday, September 20, 6 pm-8 pm
826CHI, 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL
Join Voice of Witness and 826CHI to celebrate the launch of High Rise Stories. More details to come.

Tuesday, September 24, 7 pm- 9 pm
Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, 800 S. Halsted (M/C 051), Chicago, IL

Join Voice of Witness and the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum for an interactive reading and presentation with High Rise Stories editor Audrey Petty. More details to come.

Nov. 7th, 2013: High Rise Stories at Columbia University
6:30 pm. 509 Knox Hall, 606 W. 122nd St.
New York, NY 10027
Presented by the Oral History Master of Arts at Columbia University
Free and open to the public

Voice of Witness End-of-Year Fundraiser: $10k Campaign

Posted on November 27, 2013 |

Make a tax-deductible donation by December 31st, 2013 to help Voice of Witness continue our work in Haiti and further our Education Program.

We hope to raise $10,000 by Dec. 31st, 2013 and need your help to make this happen! Click the image below to learn more about how you can help.

Voice of Witness receives the Smithsonian “Ingenuity Award” for Social Progress!

Posted on November 22, 2013 |

2013_American_Ingenuity_Awards_logoWe are so excited to announce that Voice of Witness just received the Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award for Social Progress last night in DC!

Smithsonian magazine editor-in-chief Michael Caruso wrote in the official announcement: “We’ve polled the directors, curators and staffers at the Smithsonian Institution to find those innovators who are revolutionizing their fields with recent, high-impact achievements. While their work is different in objective, each winner is embracing the Smithsonian’s mission to increase knowledge and shape the world of tomorrow. We are delighted to showcase their work across all platforms.” Read the full feature here.

Thank you Smithsonian and all our supporters!

Dave Eggers (VoW Cofounder) and mimi lok (VoW Executive Director) receiving the Smithsonian Magazine Ingenuity Award on behalf of Voice of Witness Tuesday night in DC!


Help Us Amplify Unheard Voices: Please Donate to the Voice of Witness End-of-Year Campaign Today!

Posted on November 15, 2013 |

Make a tax-deductible donation by December 31st, 2013 to help Voice of Witness continue our work in Haiti and further our education program.

We hope to raise $10,000 by Dec. 31st, 2013 and need your help to make this happen! Click on the image below to donate.

Your support will help us achieve these 2 main goals:

  • HAITI – complete an interview mission in January to conduct follow-ups and additional research for our book Hunger of the Soul.
  • EDUCATION – develop a resource guide for starting your own community-based oral history projects.

Your contribution, no matter what amount, makes this work possible.

Supporters who donate:

  • $25 or more will be automatically entered into a raffle for a chance to win the complete Voice of Witness book series, signed by cofounder Dave Eggers. The raffle will run for the first three weeks of December, with one winner announced each week. Donate early for the best odds!
  • $200 or more will receive one book of your choosing, as well as the opportunity to pick a teacher to receive a copy of The Power of the Story and a 30 minute phone or Skype consultation with a Voice of Witness education program associate.


***Click on the image above to donate***

Please also consider supporting Voice of Witness by doing one or more of the following:

  • Share this post with 10 of your friends
  • Sign up for the newsletter
  • Like our Facebook page
  • Follow us on Twitter
  • Follow us on Tumblr for updates as we move closer to our $10,000 goal

Thank you for your support!

The Voice of Witness team:
Mimi, Cliff, Claire, Mana, Luke, Alyson, and Juliana

New Resources for Educators

Posted on August 14, 2013 |

Voice of Witness is excited to offer two new resources for educators:

Book Pairings for Educators
We’ve developed a list of suggested book pairings for the Voice of Witness titles you may be using in the classroom. You can download it here. Our book pairings are always works in progress, so don’t hesitate to let us know if you have great suggestions for other books to pair with any titles in the Voice of Witness series! 

Three Tiered Curriculum
The Voice of Witness Education Program has developed a curriculum that offers three different levels of involvement. This new, tiered approach allows teachers to determine the depth to which they want to incorporate oral history into their curriculum. Using the Common Core curricular standards for high school students, we have created three rigorous approaches. This curriculum seeks to increase literacy, critical thinking, communication, and community building through amplifying unheard voices and allowing students to participate directly in the oral history process.

Although this sample curriculum focuses on the title Underground America: Narratives of Undocumented Lives, it can be adapted to any of the books in the Voice of Witness series. Download the curriculum for Bay Area Educators here, or the curriculum for National Educators here

Oral History Inside Out: A Perspective on Amplifying Unheard Voices

Posted on August 6, 2013 |

This summer, Voice of Witness intern Valerie Snow participated in ‘Amplifying Unheard Voices,’ our third annual training for educators. After the training, Valerie recorded her reflections in an insightful essay. We hope you enjoy it!

Oral History Inside Out
A Perspective on the Amplifying Unheard Voices Workshop

In late June, recently vacated classroom seats at Immaculate Conception Academy in San Francisco were filled once again with participants in the third annual Voice of Witness ‘Amplifying Unheard Voices’ workshop.  The professional development program, which took place over four days, was designed to highlight the power of personal narrative while providing educators with the tools to conduct oral history projects in their classrooms and communities.


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