After the 2016 presidential election and the recent NAACP warning about the state of Missouri, Kansas City (like much of the world) has been abuzz with protests, marches, and gatherings. With few opportunities for engaged listening, local stories about needs, concerns, and potential solutions have all but disappeared from community discourse.
As a Fall 2017 fellow of Organizing for Action (OFA), Erica Stone designed OFA Sound Off to reinvigorate the KCMO community with local stories and participatory listening opportunities. Sound Off was designed to create a space for KCMO residents to work together to create localized movements that are dialogic and meaningful.
Making change in the real world requires us to create spaces for brave conversations where we listen instead of talk and create instead of tear down.
The reflections and stories in this exhibit were collected during the 2017 Educate-Organize-Advocate Conference on October 20, 2017. They display the passions, worries, and hopes of UMKC community members.
We invite you to read them — to listen to their stories. Stories forge connections, illuminate our cultures, and create empathy. Telling your story is a means of empowerment. Listening is an act of humanity.
Continue the conversation by tweeting your own reflections and stories about your passions, worries, or hopes about these important topics. Use the hashtag #OFA_SoundOff.
OFA Sound Off is not about making noise on the internet; it’s about finding your people, building connections, and making change. Will you contribute to the conversation? More importantly, will you listen to what others have to say?
Erica M. Stone, Project Director
Erica Stone is a UMKC discourse instructor and a doctoral student in the Technical Communication and Rhetoric program at Texas Tech University. Her research centers around the rhetoric of social movements, public engagement in composition classrooms, and academics' role in history and popular culture. In October 2016, Erica gave a TEDx talk on why academics should work within their communities. This project is her first foray into creating spaces for community members to listen, to make connections, and hopefully, to inspire powerful change in Kansas City.
OFA Sound Off began as a fellowship project for Erica’s work with Organizing for Action, a grassroots organizing nonprofit, but it quickly grew into a collaborative project between UMKC faculty, staff, and students. This project wouldn’t exist without selfless hours of help from: Sean McCue, Alexa Sundeen, Abigail Brightwell-Gray, Nicole Leone, Rhiannon Dickerson, Krystal Romero, and the countless authors who contributed to our conversation about activism and social change.