2014-15 Recipients Brimstone Award for Applied Storytelling

The Brimstone Award for Applied Storytelling supports a model storytelling project that is service-oriented, based in a community or organization, and to some extent replicable in other places and situations. We are confident that the four projects above will inspire excellence in applied storytelling work and communicate to new audiences the humanitarian possibilities of storytelling.

Guneeta Singh Bhalla, The 1947 Partition Archive – Citizen Historian Program

The 1947 Partition Archive’s Citizen Historian program engages and trains members of the general public to record oral histories worldwide from those who witnessed the disruptive 1947 Partition of India and Pakistan, before the memories are forever lost. The program will serve to create awareness of Partition, the largest mass human displacement of the 20th century, through the power of storytelling. As 67 years have passed since the event, the aging population of Partition witnesses diminishes each day and gathering their stories has become a race against time. Volunteers are trained in a monthly online Oral History Workshop to conduct oral history interviews, which are documented and preserved in digital video and shared with a vast audience in an online Story Map.

The unique program builds intergenerational bonds between young Citizen Historians and the elder Partition witnesses they interview. For Partition witnesses, this process serves as an important outlet as many are telling their stories for the first time. Ultimately, the program works to establish cross-border empathy between conflicting communities and to re-shape common historical understanding by recording and sharing the peoples’ history of Partition. The program’s innovative model will be replicable across a variety of themes and disciplines.


Diane Mailey, Zen Hospice Project Storytelling Initiative

For almost 30 years, Zen Hospice Project (ZHP) has developed and refined an effective model of caregiving at end-of-life by training community members and clinical caregivers in a range of skills embedded in a foundation of mindfulness and compassion to provide care and inspirational support at the bedsides of the dying. Through its Storytelling Initiative, ZHP aims to capture and share the unique stories of community members at its six-bed Guest House in San Francisco. Specific objectives include capturing, editing, organizing and preserving stories, and developing story content to be shared across a range of media, through storytelling events, and for incorporation into our education and training programs.

ZHP launched its Storytelling Initiative by partnering with StoryCorps Legacy to collect 50 hours of stories from residents, family members, caregivers, volunteers and staff. Goals for the project include: 1) providing a transformative experience for all participants, 2) creating a more robust caregiving experience for patients, family members, staff and volunteers, 3) improving caregiving by educating formal and informal caregivers about topics related to death, grief and loss, and 4) advancing ZHP’s goal of changing the way our culture thinks about death and dying to help people to live more fully.

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