The Peoples State of the Union Story Circle, in conjunction with the exhibition Still Standing: The Abyssinian Meeting House Story Archive.
The Peoples State of the Union Story Circle
February 3, 2018 from 3pm–6pm
Opens Friday (Artwalk), February 2, 2018
On view January 24—February 24, 2018
Artists at Work Project Space, 522 Congress Stress
Free and open to the public
MECA&D and the Abyssinian Meeting House invite community members to share stories that reflect on the current state of our union and hopes for the future.
On Saturday, February 3, the Public Engagement Program and The Abyssinian Meeting House along with the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture (USDAC.us) and organizations across the country, will invite the public to participate in the People’s State of the Union #PSOTU2018. Community members will take part in Story Circles, sharing personal experiences that reveal the state of our union. This event coincides with the exhibit Still Standing: The Abyssinian Meeting House Story Archive on view at Maine College of Art & Design. In addition to participants engaging in Story Circles, the event will feature an introduction and performances from the Abyssinian Meeting House community and art-making activities from local socially engaged printmakers the Ears and Hands Collective.
In January of most years, the President delivers a State of the Union Address highlighting the past year and suggesting priorities for the coming year. It’s a broadcast from one to many. But democracy is a conversation, not a monologue. Understanding the state of our union takes We the People reflecting in our own communities on our challenges and opportunities locally, nationally, and globally.
Since 2015, the USDAC has hosted the People’s State of the Union as an invitation to supplement the President’s stories by coming together in our own homes, schools, houses of worship, and community organizations to share our own take on the state of our union. Thousands of people in more than 350 communities have taken part over the last three years, and this year between January 25-February 4, 2018, individuals and organizations will again host Story Circles across the U.S.
Maine College of Art & Design, Public Engagement Program and The Abyssinian Meeting House will be hosting Story Circles to reflect on the current state of our union and share brief stories of hope, belonging or not belonging from the past year. The free event will take place from 3pm to 6pm.
After the Story Circles, participants who wish can upload their stories and images to an online platform, yielding a body of stories that can be searched and shared, inspiring new ideas and new actions. This repository of stories will also provide the source material for the Poetic Address to the Nation, collaboratively composed and performed by poets from across the country that will be performed live on April 15th from the Public Theater in NYC and live-streamed with poetry, theater, music, and more.
The Abyssinian Meeting House is a historic church building at 73–75 Newbury Street, in the Munjoy Hill neighborhood of Portland, Maine. Built 1828-1831 by free African-Americans, it is Maine's oldest African-American church building, and the third oldest in the nation. The Public Engagement Minor at Maine College of Art & Design is a four year curricular pathway that integrates art, real-world problems and community partners. Students work with a range of partners in a variety of public contexts to address and solve complex issues in our project and problem-based courses. The U.S. Department of Arts and Culture (USDAC) is not an official government agency. It is a people-powered movement dedicated to cultivating empathy, equity, and social imagination. For more information visit usdac.us/psotu.