LISTEN | SPEAK Carolina
[TRAVERSING THE LIVED EXPERIENCE OF MENTAL ILLNESS*]
STORY Building Initiative
The Listen|Speak Story Building Initiative is made possible by the generous support of the MacKenzie Foundation.
Listen|Speak Carolina initially took off as a collaboration between Dawn Dreyer, a mixed media documentary maker and self/community advocate for people with the lived experience of mental illness, and Bebe Smith, MSW, LCSW, a radical social worker, mental health reform activist, and a compassionate provider of care to people living with severe mental illness and their families.
In 2013, Dawn presented the first iteration of Listen|Speak: Listen with Compassion | Speak with Vulnerability at mental health conferences and film festivals. In creating Listen|Speak, Dawn combined selections from her animated documentary film, Bipolar Girl Rules the World, with her own stories and reflections about living with major depression and some combination of hypomania and/or ADD.
Bipolar Girl Rules the World brings together compelling stories told by individuals with lived experience of mental illness with animation and musical scores created by incredibly talented artists. After her own experiences having her words and stories interpreted by the gifted illustrator Emily Ensminger, Dawn wanted to find a way to make a similar opportunity available to other people.
Listen|Speak really took off when Bebe joined the initiative. After presenting Listen|Speak together at the School of Social Work at UNC Chapel Hill in 2015, they partnered with Stigma Free Carolina, and coalition of student groups, including Embody Carolina, Active Minds, NAMI-UNC, and Rethink explore ideas for expanding Listen|Speak from a presentation to an interactive experience for students.
In October 2016, Dawn, Bebe, and Jaki Shelton Green, a gifted and award winning writer and mental health advocate, spoke at the Carolina Student Union and invited the UNC community to participate in the inaugural 2017 Listen|Speak Carolina workshop.
With the generous support of the MacKenzie Foundation, the Listen|Speak Carolina workshop will be held on February 24-25, 2017.
Stay tuned for what happens next!
The visual artist Emily Ensminger took my personal narrative essays, and ideas suggested by my drawings, and created a whole visual frame of reference — characters, themes, metaphors — that resonated deeply with me in ways I did not anticipate. Emily’s drawings were both deeply personal and separate from me at the same time. Her illustrations helped me feel connected to the wider world. -- Dawn Dreyer
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