We Stories Milestones

Together, We Became Helpers

Together, We Became Helpers

“Look for the helpers” is a quote that is often attributed to Fred Rogers. It circulates via meme every so often on Facebook, usually in response to news that is hard to bear. We’ve always loved that quote and even incorporated it into the curriculum for our Family Learning Program.

And while it is true that Mr. Rogers spoke these words, he didn’t say them first. His mother did.

“Look for the helpers” was what Fred Roger’s mother would tell him when something tragic happened. It was her way of seeding hope for her son when things felt impossibly sad and hard. And that lesson stuck, shaping young Fred’s worldview which he later shared with the world.

The meaning of this quote has deepened as our We Stories experience has grown. You see, we tap into the very same power of parents to shape hope and possibility for the future.

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80-in-80: Using Relationship Power to Build Community and Strengthen Impact

80-in-80: Using Relationship Power to Build Community and Strengthen Impact

In some ways We Stories is about the very small. The intimate moments like bedtime stories, memories from childhood, private hopes for the future, the starting of new habits, the subtle but significant changes in language and conversation that shape a family.

And in many ways We Stories is about the very big. Interrupting systemic racism, engaging a critical mass, building towards a tipping point, disrupting the status quo, embracing the unconventional, pushing everyday in every way towards transformation.

As an organization it is part of our work to bridge these two spheres: the small and the big. To mobilize these personal shifts and shape them into waves of lasting change.

That bridging takes a tremendous amount of relationship power. Our ability to make impact, to help transform is directly related to our connectedness...to our members’ sense of belonging and being known, and our overall community cohesion.

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This is So Much Bigger Than Ourselves

This is So Much Bigger Than Ourselves

All the weeks are busy but last week was busy in a particular and exciting way; our whole community was alive with activity. When you’re building a small organization or community there’s a long time where you as the founder(s) are the energy source for everything. People can help but ultimately you are fueling that process.

Growth is all about establishing and strengthening coordinated renewable energy centers across the system. Over the last year we’ve been working hard to expand our capacity by establishing these energy centers in the form of volunteer leaders, participant leaders, and now paid staff. Last week was one of the first times we were able to turn all of the lights in the house on…and keep them on.

Don’t get me wrong, last week still took everything we have, but there was so much more generative input than just the two of us. And you could feel it. Twice Laura and I looked at each other and said, “wow, this is amazing.” It is remarkable just how many people have truly committed their resources, talents and time to moving this work forward. We want to share this thrilling and humbling experience with you. Hopefully this piece: a week in We Stories will give you a sense of the kind of electricity that we are fortunate to experience.

A Week in We Stories

How one book traveled from STL to the President and back

The picture above comes with a remarkable story we can't wait to share.

This October, We Stories was selected (out of 20,000 nominations) to attend South by South Lawn, a first of its kind festival of innovative ideas hosted by the White House.  

We brought with us a copy of President Obama's children's book, "Of Thee I Sing," that had been signed by St. Louis school children and We Stories families and supporters.

It included a note about the community YOU are helping to build - book by book, conversation by conversation, family by family - a community fueled by families and committed to racial equity.  

We were thrilled to bring YOUR hopes to the White House.  

Last week as President Obama prepared to leave office, we received this note from the administration's Chief Digital Officer, Jason Goldman (a St. Louisan!):

"On the day of SxSL I did present the President with your book. He was very touched at receiving such a thoughtful gift.

Today I received your book back and it has been signed by the President. It is his hope that you and the kids would enjoy having it." 

That's President Obama's signature along with the call to "dream big dreams" on the book's title page.  Can you believe it???  We were floored.

At We Stories, we are guided by the belief that stories matter - that by expanding the stories in our life, we expand our vision of the future.  To think that YOUR story, our story, and the story we've yet to tell made it to the desk of the President, is truly remarkable.  Thank YOU for your role in this journey.

With the support of individuals like you, we have grown from an idea to an organization in little over a year.  If the President's call to "dream big dreams" gives you a warm fuzzy, please consider supporting our mission.  Every gift allows us to provide more families with diverse children's books and a life-changing learning and community building experience.  

We are so glad you are part of the We Stories community of dreamers... and doers.

 

Grateful for Our Sea of Lights

Grateful for Our Sea of Lights

This year we are most grateful for family. As always we are grateful for our sweet and joyous kids and adoring spouses, for our extended families that give us such support and bring us such warmth, and for friend families who have been an enduring and special part of our lives for years.

This year however we are also grateful for a new family – our We Stories family, now numbering in the thousands. I’ve said it before…it’s hard for me to remember feeling lonely in St. Louis. But at one time I did. Today I am most certainly not.

We are grateful to the We Stories families for their kinship but most of all we are just SO inspired by them.  This morning I went to share yet another news article featuring the good work of a We Stories family (electronic love letters to immigrant families in St. Louis) and I was so struck by just how fortunate we are.

At a time when folks are genuinely grappling with how to be a light in the midst of the dark storm it feels like we are in a sea of candles…representing literally hundreds of people who are taking steps big and small towards a vision of a more equitable St. Louis.

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Scratching the Surface of Possibility

Scratching the Surface of Possibility

One year ago today, we published http://www.westories.org with a mix of jitters, fear, adrenaline, and determination.

We knew from our initial focus groups and the enrollment for our pilot program that we had found some initial interest. But we knew little else. We wanted to believe that the interest of these families represented what was and is possible. We wanted to believe that they would go deep and lean into the discomfort together. We wanted to believe that they could transform their own families experience about race and also become a transformational force for our region. It was a lot to hope for.

At the same time, we knew little about the work that it would take to do the work. The building and developing of a board, the fundraising, the paperwork (!), the databases (!), the constant reanalysis of the theory of change and refinement of logic models, the continual engagement with a dynamic market and region that is both always changing and always staying the same, the investment in developing a business partnership that SOARS, the constant search for champions and partners who believe in what could be and care deeply about racial equity, the curriculum development, the material development, the reading of thousands of children's books (perk!), the listening, the empowering, and all.the.damn,logistics. - all overlaid on a backdrop of heart-breaking racial disparity that harms people every single hour.

A year later, what I can say with confidence is: We've just barely begun to scratch the surface of possibility.

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15 Facts About We Stories That Might Surprise You

15 Facts About We Stories That Might Surprise You

Welcome to the We Stories' community!

We know you share a passion for our mission to create conversation, change and hope in St. Louis and a more inclusive and equitable future for all.  And, we are so grateful to count YOU among the families ready to make change.

What we do is pretty simple, and really powerful. We provide families with beautiful, compelling picture books that feature diverse characters and address race and racism. We pair the books with monthly, thematic resources that help parents bring the books to life and advance their own learning. And, we foster a supportive community among the participating families through a closed Facebook group and regular in-person events.

In case you’re just joining our journey now, here's a peek into the story behind We Stories:

When It Rains It Pours

One week after a great experience on STL Public Radio, we were fortunate to be covered by The St. Louis Post Dispatch! And on the front page - so exciting! If you’ve been following along you know that the high levels of interest that we’ve received has been one of the most surprising and heartening parts of this experience. That trend has continued and we are overwhelmed with new families raising their hand to be a part of what is possible in St. Louis. 97 more families since Sunday afternoon…and more joining by the hour.

I am so grateful for the opportunity to do this work. I am so grateful for the thought leaders and researchers who have worked so hard to wake people up! It matters and is why people are NOW stepping forward to do their part.  I am so grateful for the families that are participating and deciding to stand for change. The truth is that we are larger and more capable than we realize. I am so grateful for the mentors who have been shepherding us along and challenging us to dream bigger and go deeper. And of course for a board and team of volunteer leaders who are moving us forward by leaps and bounds. I know Laura feels the same.

We are running as fast as we can to keep up with the demand and appreciate all of your support and help! Together, we can make a difference...and already are.

A big-hearted thanks to you all!

Adelaide

I Wouldn't Have Believed You

We were so pleased to share a bit about our journey with Don Marsh on "St Louis on the Air" last week. We were grateful not only for the opportunity but even more so for all the support we received.

This time last year was lonely and difficult. As a white parent in St. Louis who genuinely cared about the racial inequities around me I felt a lot of despair and doubt and fear. To know that less than a year after meeting Laura I'd be able to share a story (on the radio!) about hundreds of white families who have embarked on a journey to take up conversations about race differently is unbelievable. I wouldn't have believed you if you told me this would happen. To know that those families are working hard to examine their own beliefs and experiences and their role in the larger system around us feels overwhelming. To know that their kids (our kids) are accessing stories and histories and truths that I didn't encounter until I was an adult is truly heartening.

There is MUCH work to be done. But now I know about the growing number of hands and hearts who are standing right beside me.

Take a listen!

I Want to Tell You a Story

I Want to Tell You a Story

I want to tell you a story. A story about St. Louis. A diverse and vibrant city with a wealth of cultural resources and a proud tradition of prioritizing family life. A city with dozens of distinct areas but hearts large enough to care and advocate across divides. A city that embraces the old and new and that has the courage to dream big and work hard for the benefit of all citizens. This is a story of a St. Louis that I know is possible: big-hearted, courageous, and fiercely generous.

Last year I wouldn’t have believed this story. In fact until I began this work I believed our community’s conventional wisdom, which held that “white families in St. Louis don’t care about race and don’t want things to change.” I believed this because it reflected the reality I thought I knew.

And yet our ability as an organization to quickly amass nearly 300 white families interested in participating in We Stories without any marketing efforts tells us that this is a story that is not entirely true. Prepared to find resistance or apathy, we have instead heard from hundreds of families who are saying, “don’t count me out. I care and I can dream too.”

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