Frederick, MD - Transform Mid-Atlantic is pleased to announce that two institutions have been selected to participate as The Facing Project / TMA co-sponsored projects starting in the Fall 2022. Accepted project proposals were submitted by Morgan State University and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and will focus on Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI).
The Facing Project
The Facing Project, a non-profit organization founded by J.R. Jamison and Kelsey Timmerman, seeks to create a more understanding and empathetic world through stories that inspire action. The organization’s community-based facing projects empower and train community members to “face” serious challenges in their communities by equipping them with storytelling and writing tools to record narratives regarding specific issues that are then gathered and published by The Facing Project Press. According to The Facing Project’s website, the stories “provide a facilitated opportunity for members of the broader community to have safe spaces to explore the issue/topic, ask tough questions, and dig deeper into the human condition that connects us all.” The organization has developed community-based facing projects with nearly one hundred communities across the country and world.
”The Facing Project is rooted in listening, and we believe that stories are the most powerful tool for change and understanding,” says The Facing Project Founder and President J.R. Jamison. “We are thrilled about this new partnership with TMA, and we can’t wait to work with the teams at Morgan State and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore on their Facing Projects. We have no doubt both projects will have far-reaching positive effects.”
Throughout the 2022-2023 academic year, the projects at Morgan State University and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore will use The Facing Project’s process, toolkit, and resources to train writers and collect stories from community members focused on the issues outlined below. By Spring 2023, stories from each project will be collected, edited, and published as books and released within their respective communities and to the public. TMA will host a celebration of these two inaugural projects after they have concluded their work.
The Good Life Project at Morgan State University
The project at Morgan State University will deepen the Center for the Study of Religion and the City’s ongoing The Good Life Project, which is “[documenting] lessons learned during the pandemic and emerging visions of healthy communities” in a community-led effort to improve the quality of life within the neighborhoods in which the institution is located. Dr. Harold Morales, Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies and Director of the Center for the Study of Religion and the City, submitted the selected project proposal at Morgan State.
In partnership with other offices and departments at Morgan State, including the Morgan CARES public health center, the project and publication will encourage continued campus-community conversations on equitable opportunities to address community-based issues by contributing to the “development of [K-12] teaching materials that engage [with] the stories” and providing “source materials for developing student artwork and a museum exhibit” at the James E. Lewis Museum of Art. Dr. Morales was the recipient of the 2021 TMA Civic Engagement Award, which “recognizes outstanding contributions to the development of civic learning and engagement in sustaining our participatory democracy.”
The Princess Anne Town-Gown Divide: University of Maryland Eastern Shore
The University of Maryland Eastern Shore’s project is titled “The Princess Anne Town-Gown Divide: Expectations and Experiences,” and works to deepen UMES’ relationship with the greater Princess Anne community. The proposal, submitted by Fall 2021 TMA Faculty-Mini Grant recipient Dr. Cynthia Cravens of the institution’s Center for Teaching Excellence and Professor of Digital Media Studies Dr. Amy Hagenrater-Gooding, will complement the UMES Committee on Social Justice and Community Engagement / Digital Media Studies Program’s Media and Community Festival, slated to take place in mid-October 2022.
According to the project proposal, “Over the hundred-plus years UMES has been in Princess Anne, [the institution and community have] experienced strained town-gown relations which we are currently working toward healing.” The project will focus on collecting and sharing stories of first-generation college students at UMES, “particularly through the lens of Princess Anne’s perceptions of the HBCU in its midst.” Ultimately, Drs. Cravens and Hagenrater-Gooding hope that the project will “strengthen the connection between the UMES campus and the surrounding community…[and] engage and empower the community as storytellers within the tradition of oral history.”
The Power of Stories
“We are so excited to partner with The Facing Project and look forward to the long-term impact of Morgan State and UMES’ projects in advancing a culture of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion through their campus-community partnerships,” says TMA Executive Director Madeline Yates. “Stories are powerful tools that both support individuals and communities in describing past trauma and current challenges, as well as inspiring us to action to create more equitable neighborhoods and partnerships where people feel like they belong.”
The two projects in Maryland selected to participate in the Fall 2022 The Facing Project / TMA partnership will begin their work later this year. Each project will form a steering committee of campus and community partners and leaders, and local writers and storytellers – including students and community members – will receive training to collect narratives that will eventually be published in print form and released at a community celebration.
About The Facing Project
The Facing Project was founded in 2012 by J.R. Jamison and Kelsey Timmerman. J.R. is the former Executive Director of the Community-Engaged Alliance, formerly Indiana Campus Compact. The Facing Project is a national nonprofit that creates a more understanding and empathetic world through stories that inspire action. We bring people and communities together through acts of empathy that include listening, storytelling, and connecting across differences with the belief that stories are the most powerful tool for change.
To learn more about The Facing Project, please visit https://facingproject.com/.