Cowbird: Unheard Voices
Even in this age of social media, we still learn most of what we know through predominantly white male filters and pundits, experts and academics, politicians and editorialists. We don’t often hear directly from people like a bread baker from La Unión Xaltepec community in Nochistlán, Mexico, the only one of her family to stay behind and not leave for work in the United States.
Nor do we hear stories from a father who started his own hair salon in Harlem, recounting the day his son became old enough to take over the business.
Those are just two of the people you’ll hear from in Cowbird’s new Unheard Voices digital storytelling collection. Cowbird’s Unheard Voices recently funded two storytellers to amplify the voices and experiences of those excluded from traditional media outlets. Inspired by the acclaimed Cowbird/National Geographic collaboration that gave a platform to residents of the Pine Ridge Reservation, Unheard Voices launched this spring and will premiere its first two collections of stories at UnionDocs on September 25th.
Writer and storyteller Dawn Fraser will share the experiences of the stylists, patrons and community members who congregate in barbershops and natural hair salons in New York City. Photographer Rodrigo Jardón will share the voices and images of the Mixteca Alta, an indigenous region in the mountains of Oaxaca, Mexico, which has been profoundly changed by immigration. Afterward, they’ll be joined by Cowbird Founder Jonathan Harris and panelists, Kayla Epstein, Nadia Reiman and Sarah Kate Kramer, for a discussion and Q&A about their projects and the future of community storytelling.
Cowbird launched on December 8, 2011 with hundreds of stories about the Occupy Wall Street movement, and a global community of storytellers soon sprung up around it. Cowbird received widespread media attention from places like The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and TIME Magazine, which named Cowbird “Twitter in Slow Motion,” and one of the “50 Best Websites of 2012.”
Jonathan Harris is a digital artist, known for his work with data visualization and storytelling. He is the creator of seminal interactive projects like We Feel Fine, The Whale Hunt, 10×10, and I Love Your Work, and the founder of Cowbird.
Dawn J. Fraser is a humorist, storyteller, and national speaker from San Jose, California. She is the Host and Producer of Barbershop Stories, which features some of New York’s bravest storytellers, comedians, and memoirists, as they tell live stories… while chopping of their hair. Dawn was featured as a speaker amongst some of the nation’s top innovators and change makers at TED@NYC, and currently teaches storytelling to students through The Moth’s Community Program. Dawn is a nationally acclaimed speaker, and delivers speeches and workshops to students, entrepreneurs, and business owners to develop stories that engage and inspire. Her own stories about growing up as a twin and a first generation Trinidadian have been featured on storytelling shows including The Moth, Story Collider,The Soundtrack Series and RISK!
Rodrigo Jardon is a freelance documentary and concert photographer. He received his Bachelor of Journalism at Mexico’s National Autonomous University and has studied workshops at the Narco News’ School of Authentic Journalism, the International Center of Photography and Aperture Foundation. His work has been published online in The Guardian, TIME, Vice, Berliner Morgenpost and printed on The Scotsman, Filter Mexico, The Red Bulletin, JPG Magazine and more. Since 2009 Rodrigo’s ongoing project “Homelands” has been focused in the effects of the world’s political economy in the life of individuals of Mexico, the United States, the West Bank, Kurdistan and the Western Sahara.
Kayla Epstein is the Engagement Editor for The Guardian, where she utilizes traditional reporting methods as well as social media and closed journalism to tell stories and engage readers. Her work at The Guardian includes The Counted, a project to document people killed by police in the US in 2015. She worked alongside the Pulitzer-Prize winning team that broke the Edward Snowden NSA stories. Before joining the Guardian, Kayla worked in worked in NYC politics and government.
Nadia Reiman has been a radio producer since 2005. She has worked for StoryCorps for almost 8 years, and her work there on the team that produced 9/11 stories earned them a Peabody Award. Nadia has also worked on Afropop Worldwide and NPR’s Latino USA, where she still curates the show’s music. Nadia also writes for music blogs like Remezcla and Sounds and Colours and worked on a shortlived Spanish language public radio politics program called Epicentro when she worked in Washington DC.
Sarah Kate Kramer is a producer at Radio Diaries, where she works with Joe Richman to produce audio diaries and documentaries. Her adventures in radio began a decade ago, when she got hooked on collecting stories as a StoryCorps facilitator. She then traveled to Morocco on Fulbright Fellowship (taking her microphone along) before settling down in her hometown of NYC. Before joining Radio Diaries in 2012, she was editor of Feet in 2 Worlds and a freelancer for WNYC Radio.