Jan 2, 2020

UPDATE: Portraits, Side-by-Side

 
I'm excited to share with you some of the behind-the-scenes work on our Unsilence collaboration with The Sisterhood, a collective of Chicagoland mothers, all women of color, whose children have been killed by senseless gun violence.
 
Over the last few months, renowned Chicago-based artist Cecil McDonald Jr. has been conducting photo-sessions with the mothers. Working closely with founder of The Sisterhood, Gwendolyn Baxter, an exciting and important framework has emerged:
 
At the heart of our Unsilence online exhibition will be two sets of photographic portraits. The first set of portraits will depict each mother in her everyday clothes and in an everyday setting of her choice. The second set of portraits will be a series of studio shots, in no specific location, the mothers wearing their group shirts.
 
By presenting these two sets of portraits side-by-side, our online exhibition will connect and contrast the individual narratives of each mother with the collective story of The Sisterhood as a group of activists who support one another.
 
This framework – each mother’s individual narrative entwined within the story of The Sisterhood – will drive the learning experience we are designing, and will help us achieve our goals: (1) To unsilence the personal and collective grief, trauma, activism, and healing of mothers of color. (2) To humanize their murdered children who are so often portrayed in a negative light in the media. (3) To help communities across Chicago talk about systemic violence. (4) To connect Chicagoland communities, because we’re in this crisis together and we can only solve it together.
 
We are so grateful for your support of our work. Please consider adding to your support by following this linkWe cannot unsilence without you. 
 
All my best,
Danny M. Cohen
Founder & Interim Executive Director of Unsilence
www.unsilence.org
 
Dec 4, 2019

How does Unsilence's 'TOMORROW' help communities heal?

THANK YOU! Because of your generous support of our work on mental health education and other hidden injustices, Unsilence's choose-your-own-pathway learning tool TOMORROW is now one of our most popular online features.

Why did Unsilence create TOMORROW? Schools struggle to talk about suicide and mental health. Some schools even have policies that prohibit teachers from talking about suicide with students. But there are healthy ways for schools to tackle this topic. TOMORROW helps teachers, school administrators, parents, and young people learn how to support community conversations about sucide and mental health in appropriate and effective ways.

What is the story at the heart of TOMORROW? TOMORROW presents three distinct perspectives in one story. Liza is a teacher unsure how to respond to sudden news of a student death. Sanjay is a student struggling to talk with his friends and family about his own mental health. April is the new school principle, seeking advice from experts on how to navigate the day's awful events.

Why is TOMORROW interactive? Throughout the story, the reader must make decisions on behalf of each character, and the reader can see how different choices may play out. The story cultiminates with embedded best-practice guidelines - suggested by experts - for schools on how to navigate student suicide and support community healing.

Is TOMORROW based on real events? Yes. TOMORROW is accompanied by the teacher testimony INTO MY ARMS on which the interactive story is based, as well as BRIAN, which is a parent's beautiful and honest reflection about her son and his suicide, loss and blame, and healing through education. In her words: "Together, we can lower the rates of suicide among children and young adults. The place to start is to unsilence the mental suffering that so many of our young people experience."

CONTINUE TO SUPPORT OUR ESSENTIAL WORK: Without you, we would not be able to create and deliver innovative programs - driven by storytelling, the arts, and serious games - that unsilence injustice. If you'd like to continue supporting our TOMORROW initiative, you can donate right here.

With sincere gratitude.

Oct 4, 2019

UPDATE: Online Exhibition Design

 
Thanks to your generous support, we are now starting the education design phase of our collaboration with The Sisterhood, a collective of Chicagoland mothers, all women of color, whose children have been killed by senseless gun violence.
 
Over the coming weeks, our dedicated Unsilence team of researchers and designers will be selecting key moments from the interview testimonies of a dozen mothers. The testimonies will be presented alongside photographic portraits of the mothers - photographed by artist Cecil McDonald Jr. - and turned into a new interactive online Unsilence exhibition. We aim create a learning tool for schools and communities that highlights both individual experiences and collective experiences of gun violence and its implications for families.
 
Our project goals: (1) To unsilence the personal and collective grief, trauma, activism, and healing of mothers of color. (2) To humanize their murdered children who are so often portrayed in a negative light in the media. (3) To help communities across Chicago talk about systemic violence. (4) To connect Chicagoland communities, because we’re in this crisis together and we can only solve it together.
 
We are so grateful for your support. We cannot unsilence injustice without you.
 
All my best,
Danny M. Cohen
Founder & Interim Executive Director of Unsilence
www.unsilence.org
 
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