Though it took two weeks longer than expected, all posts have been unlocked and the site is up and running again! Here are some of the changes we made:
1. You’ll note that I said “we” in the sentence above. That’s because there are now two of us co-running the projects – welcome Alice to the Stories Project team! I’m happy to have her on board and she should be making herself known around here soon; in the meantime, you can read more about her in the “About Us” tab.
2. All posts now have two things: trigger tags at the top of the page and author tags at the bottom of the page. Content notes are included for but not limited to: grief, loss, slurs, violence, murder, death, suicide, misgendering, abuse, and self-harm.
3. The Stories Project has a new email address. For those of you who already have my personal one, you’re welcome to keep it and contact me that way, but the new address, which is going to serve as the main contact for the projects from this point on, is: firstname.lastname@example.org. The Stories Project now also has its own page on Facebook that we can be reached at as well.
4. All of the “about” tabs – About Us, About the Stories Project, About the Week of Action, Contact, and Who We Are Not: a Warning – have all been updated with current information. We rewrote the posts in a way that more accurately reflects what we are trying to do and more provides a clearer, more-straightforward understanding of what these projects are.
5. Some posts were made private due to outdated, conflicting, or no longer relevant information, such as old announcements of contact information changes. Additionally, posts involving my story have been password-protected. I will gladly provide the password to those who are interested in reading those posts; however, I am implementing this both as a safety measure and because I never wanted to be the main focus of the projects. In the future, it may be the case that posts involving my story will not be password-protected, but that is the case for now.
6. The site remains the Week of Action Movement in name and has not been split into two separate sites. Instead, things have been shifted around layout and wording-wise to make it clear the Stories Project is the bigger/main project with that event running on the side.
7. Because we get asked, Alice and I have decided to add a statement in writing in a couple of locations on the site that says yes, we do in fact have the families’ approval to collect stories about their loved ones:
“We would like to note that for each of the individuals we have collected stories about through the project, we have the approval of their family to do so even if they have elected not to share themselves. In the majority of cases, the families are highly involved in the process from the beginning and some have continued to stay in touch with us long after we had a finished story on the site. So in case you are wondering if we have the families’ permission to do this – we do.”
8. A new logo that we created, of the same general rainbow hand print design, is in the works and should be in place shortly.
Thanks for sticking with us as we figured all of this out!
Just a heads-up, this is a note that all posts on this blog except for the Stories Project stories are going to be locked temporarily while I do some redesigning and updating with the site and the information on it. Not disappearing, just renovating, and all posts will be unlocked again no later than Friday, September 12.
Here are some of the things I am considering changing. Any feedback or suggestions would be much appreciated.
– The icon of the blog. I may not necessarily change it, but I do need to ensure I have the right to use it. I seem to remember it was a stock image I purchased the license to; however, in the event that I’m wrong, I will either purchase the license to a similar stock image, or I will create / commission a logo myself.
– The name of the blog. The website was created with one project in mind – the Week of Action – because the Stories Project did not yet exist. Even when it did, it was the side project. In the years that followed, the Stories Project greatly surpassed the purpose and scope of the Week of Action, and it is now very much the main project, with the WoA as a side event. I am thinking the blog name should reflect this. Should the blog, including its name, be remodeled to reflect this change – the Stories Project as the main, the Week of Action as the side?
– Whether or not to divide this site into two separate sites, one for the Stories Project and one for the Week of Action. Goes along with considering changing the name of the blog. Initially, I only had one project – the Week of Action – and I named and designed the blog with only one project in mind. When the Stories Project came about, it was at that time just an extension of the Week of Action, and I was not sure it would last. I didn’t know if anyone would want to speak with me and I also did not have a clear understanding of exactly what I wanted it to be – I certainly didn’t expect it would become its own entity and greatly surpass the scope of the first project. I’ve tried to find a way to integrate both on this site, but the balance seems off: the Stories Project is the bigger project I do much more with that is active all of the time, yet the website is still very WoA-centered, even though that is only a once-a-year event. Should I split the two projects into two different blogs, or is it better to keep them on the same one? How can I adjust the balance so the Stories Project is more the focus?
– The “about” tabs and their order. Firstly, they need to be rewritten – at least three of the five are outdated. The project tabs should also first.
– Trigger warnings / content notes on posts. This needs to happen, period. I didn’t tag anything when the site was new because I had no readers. This is not the case any more and some of those who read have been directly victimized by the type of violence discussed here – tags are not optional when it comes to subject matter like this.
– Locking or editing some of the older posts to avoid confusion. I hesitate to do this for transparency reasons, but the fact is that the projects of 2014 are not the projects of two years ago. The concept may be the same but in terms of purpose, scope, methods, etc., they are dramatically different. I wasn’t sure what I was doing or what I wanted to do with them at that time. So it’s crossed my mind to lock or edit some of the older posts that have possibly conflicting information or are not representative of what this has become.
– How visible I am in general on the site. I always wonder about how to minimize myself on the site and in the projects, because I have always said that if I could run these projects without anyone knowing who I was or what place I came from, if I could only focus on the stories and the victims themselves, I would do that. I am not able to do this the way I would like at times because these are the things everyone I’ve spoken with has wanted to know before agreeing to participate – who I am, what place I come from, what connection I have to X story, and whether or not what I’m doing is for reasons they can support. I’m okay sharing with the victims’ families how their loved ones’ stories have affected me – again, it’s something they often want to know before getting involved – I am not as comfortable sharing that with the world on a public blog! I’ve forced myself to be very open and personal on this site about how the stories have influenced me so that it doesn’t come across like I have something to hide, but co-opting / exploiting them is always a fear of mine.
How obvious it should be that I have permission to talk about these stories. I wonder about this at times too, if there should be an indicative note somewhere on the blog that states I do have permission to talk about these stories in the way I do. The first year was disorganized and chaotic, so I wasn’t always certain because I was fairly afraid of the people I contacted – but I do know now. I always thought it was somewhat obvious that if I had a story from someone, particularly a family member of the victim, I had someone’s approval, but I have been asked. With one story in particular that gets focused on a lot around here, I do have the family’s approval to go forward with the projects, though it’s not stated on the site anywhere in writing. Maybe it should be?