Birth is celebrated as one of the most profound and joyous moments in life. Yet in the nation of Uganda, delivering a child is an undertaking steeped in danger. The African country faces one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. Why are so many Ugandan women dying in childbirth?
In this piece, Charlotte Sagan explores the issues surrounding maternal health in the Southeastern district of Iganga. Conversations with Ugandan mothers, fathers and health care practitioners reveal intimate narratives of health, perseverance and family. The delivery story of a young woman named Miriam, in particular, illustrates the perils and joys of childbirth.
This is a tale of the other. Things are changing and the LGBTQ communities that were formerly exiled are now, slowly, being noticed and accepted by the mainstream--whether or not these communities give a hoot about "normal" acceptance. Just because we live in a more open-minded era for gays, gender-benders, and women alike (and there are many who would find this idea contentious) does not mean that the turbulent story of how drag got to the spotlight should be glossed over, nor the deeply transgressive nature of gender-bending forgotten.
Lest the contemporary “it-gets-better” ethos rewrite a subversive history forged outside the norm and by those who have always felt different, Brittany Newell have sought to record the oral history of 7 dazzling American queens and gender-artists working today. What is the trajectory from misfit to show-stopper, fringe to the spotlight, boy to beautiful woman or creature? Is drag the sparkling manifestation of an less-pretty past, the alchemy of the alienated? In documenting their experiences, inspirations, and struggles as The Other, she hopes to pay tribute to the art of transformation, as perfected to an almost mystical degree by these 7 artists, gender-rebels, and visionaries. This is a tale of the other, the queer, the blunt, and the brave. Their stories go against the grain and beyond the rainbow.
Special thanks: to all the beautiful people and amazing artists who made this possible! The Braden Grant for the Study of Oral Narrative, the Stanford Storytelling Project, Ziva Schatz, and Eric Eich
Image via Ziva Scatz (of drag queen Alaska Thunderf*ck)
I Love You, PACS Me!
In 1999, France created the French equivalent of a civil union. The PACS--an acronym for "pacte civile de solidarité"-- was intended as an alternative to marriage for gay couples, but it was open to straight couples as well. And it was used by them--perhaps paradoxically, 94% of PACS couples are straight. With the legalization of gay marriage in May 2013, gay couples who want legal protection are no longer relegated to the PACS. What does the PACS mean to the people who get it, and how is it different from marriage? How can love and commitment be expressed, and how is this changing in modern French society?
Savannah Kopp interviews PACS couples in Paris about their love stories and their PACS stories. This piece explores how a culturally specific label for a relationship comes to have meaning and how, as the cliché goes, maybe the French can teach us about love.
Some 76 million years ago an asteroid smashed into our planet, killing the dinosaurs and three-quarters of the Earth’s plants and animals. Once again our planet is facing a wave of extinctions, this one of man's making, and more than ever we need to know what it takes for a species to survive a cataclysm. Laura Cussen traces the improbable story of an ancient, venomous mammal of the Caribbean, and of the local people who have unearthed its secret to survival.
Featuring: César Abril, Nicolás Corona, Pedro Martínez, and Alexis Mychajliw
Special thanks: The Last Survivors, Natacha Ruck, Will Rogers, Graham Roth, Weston Gaylord, Professor Elizabeth Hadly, to all the people who have made this project possible, and to the Hispaniolan solenodon.
"E Ola Pono: Nana I Ke Kumu" (Live Righteously: Look to the Source)
This piece explores traditional healing in Native Hawaiian culture, examining the relevance of ancient values and traditions in today's society. Nicole details her journey throughout the Hawaiian Islands, presenting stories from Native healers who share their experiences in seeking truth, wisdom, and health. These stories delve into fundamental issues such as identity, balance, and nature, while showing how cultural complexity can be rooted in simple universal truths.
Special thanks: Stanford School of Earth Sciences, Prof. Peter Vitousek, Dr. Noa Lincoln, University of Hawaii, Waianae Coast Community Health Center
Image courtesy of Nicole Marie Rodriguez
The Congress Radio Calling: Underground Broadcasts during the Quit India Movement
In Egypt, in Iran, and in Tunisia, we've heard a lot about the so-called Twitter and Facebook revolutions. But what about the radio revolution? Working from archives in New Delhi and London, Neel Thakkar resurrects the forgotten story of the Congress Radio -- the secret, underground radio station which, during the Quit India movement of 1942, helped keep the Indian nationalist movement alive during some of its darkest days.
On February 22nd, 2002 a train carrying 58 Hindu pilgrims returning from Ayodhya was attacked by a group of Muslims, resulting in the death of all of its passengers. What followed was a series of violent, retaliatory attacks against Muslims in the state and the death of over 1,000 people.
In this piece, Stanford students Claire Colberg 14’ and Ravi Patel 13’ travel to Anand, India, to understand how these riots have affected Gujarat’s youth. Despite deep-rooted challenges, their conversations with both Hindu and Muslim students reveal the future vision of communal unity shared by Gujarat’s youth.
Featuring: The students of D.Z. Patel High School, D.N High School, the Hanifa School, and the Chaortar Institute of Technology - Changa.
Special Thanks: Andrew Todhunter, Kiran Patel, and all the students who shared their stories with us in Gujarat.
Image courtesy of Claire Colberg
Improv in the Real World
There’s something special about theatrical improvisation. There’s a trust, a confidence, and a sense of risk that can help individuals grow and bring groups together. But what happens when you graduate and your source of improv (mainly, your college improv group) goes away?
In this piece, Mona Thompson, Stanford class of 2013, explores the concept of improvisation in the “real world.” Would it be possible to create a whole life centered around improv? And if so, would it be meaningful?
What makes young Australians such eager globe-trotters? Aliza Gazek and Kelly Vicars swung on their packs and set off “down under” to find out. The travelers they met along the way shared stories of their adventures and offered surprising insight into Australia’s history as a nation, providing a trail of clues to why it’s so easy to find an Aussie backpacker in any hostel in the world.
Featuring: John Grant, Prashan Paramanathan, Ashley Carruthers, Theo Ell, Mel Ronca, Sandra Ronca, Aileen “Nan” Grant
Special Thanks: Andrew Todhunter and Jeanne Snider for their guidance, our generous Aussie hosts, and everyone else who shared their stories: Alex Dumbrell, Murray and Rosie Fisher, Robin Grant, and Paul Rowley.
Understanding someone who experiences the world differently than you can be hard. In fact, it can be downright scary.
In this piece, Austin Meyer, a senior from Stanford University, visits the Earle Baum Center for People With Vision Loss to tell his story of what it's like to navigate the intimidating space between two opposite ways of experiencing the world... one with vision and one without.
Rachel Kelley interviewed over two dozen activists, artists, and their friends as part of her effort to capture an oral history of Greenlands, an intentional community in Nashville, Tennessee. Their reflections ranged from the ethics of air conditioning to Occupy antics to the moral quandaries of gentrification. Here is a snapshot of Rachel's experience and some of the Greenlanders' stories.
The Storytelling Project is supported by the Stanford Institute for Creativity and the Arts, the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, Stanford Introductory Studies, Stanford Continuing Studies, and the Program in Writing and Rhetoric.