Every year, the President of the United States delivers a speech about the current state of our union. The traditional address has always been one directional. This year, the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture, or USDAC, is looking to change that. The USDAC is not government agency; it is a collective of people making the world a better place using art and culture in new and creative ways. They are taking the idea of the presidential address and transforming that tradition into a multifaceted dialogue between members of communities across the nation. These engaging communal gatherings will be called the People’s State of the Union. From January 23-30, everyone is invited to come together into story circles and share experiences that:
- Tell a story about a moment you felt true belonging—or the opposite—in this country or in your community.
- Describe an experience that showed you something new or important about the state of our union.
- Share about a time you stood together with people in your community.
Each story will be transcribed online to form a greater patchwork where the dialogue can continue. Shortly after January 30, the USDAC National Cabinet will discuss common elements that arise in order to identify the true state of the union. At the same time, poets nationwide will collaborate to create the “2015 People’s State of the Union Address,” based on the stories shared online. The Address will be read on February 1 at the Bowery Poetry Club in New York City and will also be available online in video and text.
This is the largest call for creative communal action of this kind in history. The USDAC is encouraging anyone to host a story circle or a gathering with multiple story circles their area. The deadline to sign up to host is January 8. For more information about hosting, click here.
Arlene Goldbard, author of New Creative Community: The Art of Cultural Development and contributor to What We See: Advancing the Observations of Jane Jacobs both released via New Village Press, is one of the creative minds involved in the USDAC where she serves as the Chief Policy Wonk. Arlene is a respected voice in community development, cultural activism, and social justice.