Firstly let me say that it isn’t dead nor have I stopped doing it, though I haven’t posted a new story since September! I haven’t had as much time to work on it as I would have liked since the summer ended and classes resumed – in the summer, of course, I could work on it for as long as I liked as much as I liked, but after it ended, this was no longer possible. As well, I have had a slightly more difficult time finding people to reach out to as I’ve been moving away from the person and story I know the most about since the summer ended. (I will certainly still listen to and accept stories involving that person, but I am trying to branch out because I want the project to be all-inclusive.) I don’t think this is a permanent thing, that there are times when the project becomes less active, just a natural occurrence of a project like this from time to time, but it is a factor in the Stories Project being less active in recent times.
For this being the first year I have attempted anything of this nature, I think it has been very successful. I have reached out to sixteen people in the six months I began working on this, and of those sixteen, three have wanted to take part. This sounds like an entirely unsuccessful number until you think of it this way – of those sixteen, only three have said they wanted to take part, but only three have said they did not. I don’t think that’s too bad for the first year attempting anything like this. I have a few I would like to follow up with after the holidays, as they indicated interest but we fell out of touch. I am looking to perhaps broaden the scope and open the project up a bit so it is less specific, as it is a little limiting as it stands now. The purpose will still be entirely the same – to tell the stories of those most closely connected to hate crime victims and exhibit the human side of the statistics – but I’m thinking of broadening the scope to living victims of anti-LGBT hate as well, not just the ones who did not survive. I intend this May, during the Week of Action, to reveal my own story of dealing with anti-gay violence, and I have had one woman contact me saying that if I ever wanted to open the project in such a way, she had a story she wished to share. That is one change I have considered making in the months to come. Overall I am very satisfied with the outcome and I intend to continue the project.
I know there were mistakes made this year with the Stories Project, and there are a number of things I wish I would have thought to do differently at its start. Alas I did not, and now I can’t do anything about them – you learn from experience, I suppose. This whole summer was a mess. I decided to use my real name (Meg) as opposed to the online alias I’d been going by for years (Phoenix Spirit) a little late in the game, so the email I registered for the blog was under the name Phoenix Spirit. I caught on to this and stopped sending from that account, but two people had already received messages from “Phoenix Spirit” by that point. There’s a reason I no longer use that name – no one takes me seriously with it, and I understand why; I wouldn’t either. It did not help me that I did not have a definite project laid out from the start. As well, it was a mess trying to obtain permission from those whose opinions matter the most on the existence of this project, and then trying to decide if I should even continue without it. I should have had that figured out long beforehand. There were other issues, including choosing to tell my age up-front, which one of the people I spoke with said gave him the impression I wouldn’t necessarily be up for what I was trying to do, forgetting to include links to the website in about half of the emails I sent, and not updating the website regularly enough for people to even understand what I was doing. I regret making these mistakes but I am not terribly shaken up by them. I have learned from the missteps with this project and will apply what I’ve taken away from them to how I will conduct the Stories Project in the future.
I am about to start working on the Week of Action, my other project, full-time. While doing this, the Stories Project will not be inactive – I will still take stories, continue promoting the ones I have, and doing whatever I can to spread the message that created it, to show the human stories behind the statistics. I am just putting it on pause for a bit so I can focus my efforts on this event, and I will resume working on the Stories Project full-time after the conclusion of the Week of Action.
If you have been following this project or are interested in seeing the stories submitted so far, do go and read the first three:
From Mark Brady, a friend and classmate of Rebecca Wight: https://weekofactionmovement.wordpress.com/2012/06/29/the-stories-project-mark-bradys-story/
From Karen Poiani, a friend of Rebecca Wight and Claudia Brenner: https://weekofactionmovement.wordpress.com/2012/08/22/the-stories-project-karen-poianis-story/
From Bill Thomas, the older brother of Cathleen Thomas: https://weekofactionmovement.wordpress.com/2012/09/29/the-stories-project-bill-thomass-story/