Sharing Our Stories with Kay Olan & Orland Bishop
KAY: When we are invited to share our stories, we feel enabled, we feel we have power, we feel as though we really exist. Somebody is seeing that we are here. And they want to hear what we’re feeling and what we’re thinking about and what we’ve experienced, not just to hear our stories, but possibly to learn from it, as well. So we become each other’s teachers. And each other’s doctors, because in the process of telling our stories we’re able to let go of some experiences and feelings that maybe we need to let go of. And in the process of telling our stories sometimes we’re able to draw back a bit, so that we can see those experiences from another viewpoint. And then we have, hopefully in some cases, an “Aha!” moment where we learn something that we hadn’t thought about before, not just for ourselves, but also our listeners sometimes have that “Aha!” moment. And they all of the sudden, if they’ve experienced something similar, they don’t feel as alone anymore. “Somebody else went through what I’ve gone through”. Or, “Somebody else thinks that this is important and I always thought it was important”. You know, so there’s a sharing there.
PHIL: Orland, I remember you saying that it’s your job, your task of tasks in life to help the kids on the street tell their stories, but also to tell them stories from the outside world that might help them. How can an old myth like the Iliad help kids on the street today?
ORLAND: Well, that story gives us the background to mentorship. The whole idea of journeying was to make the person move from their place of origins to a place of destination. So destiny and destination are the same thing. Where are we going? And so when a person is stuck, even in the street there is a level of destiny that wants them to navigate those streets and find even a certain way, a guide. Streets have guides.
PHIL: Wonderful. Can you describe the actual project that you’re involved with there? Who are those kids?
ORLAND: Well our work for the last 18 years has been centered in the organization we founded called Shade Tree. And in this particular clip we show some young friends who were visiting from Germany, one from Brazil…
**ORLAND VIDEO SEQUENCE BEGINS**
ORLAND: …one from South Africa, and so they were here for an internship to explore social entrepreneurism. And this particular day I was introducing them to Alvanso, we call him Red Man, for them to get to know his story. The storyteller is a host when you’re telling the story. Of not just the story itself, but those who are listening to it.
RM: I was born and raised at, right across this here way is Malcom Middle School, we call it “Thunder Dome”, (laugh) that’s where youngsters…
ORLAND: That’s where the gladiators are made.
RM: Yea, well it was gladiator school, man. That’s where it all the - like this bridge. I remember when we were building the bridge, just like the train tracks divides us from the Crips and the Bloods. This side here would be the Crips side, that side over there would be the Bloods side.
INTERN: How does that middle school relationship affect the later supposedly opposing gang sides? I mean you’ve got friends that end up in the Bloods.
ORLAND: How do we cross into the social consciousness, whereby you can meet a person and get to know their relationship to their neighborhood, to their life by walking the place with them.
RM: In the sense of that, we would give each other, we knew one another. If he’s a Crip, if I’m a Crip and he’s a Blood and so we knew how, we had that mutual respect for one another. So I wouldn’t fight him. I would fight his homies though, but I would give him a pass because me and him cool. Ah, but other than that you know, you’ve got to let the hood be the hood.
RM: We was in juvenile hall back then, juvenile hall kids, it was some young bastards around here in this here joint. We caused a whole lot of ruckus when we were younger. I mean, we made it out here man, we’re still survivin’ man. My best friend he got shot over 13 times man. He made that, he made that agreement to live man, and he’s a survivor like I was, man. Me being shot 10 times. Him being shot 3 more times than me, man one of my survivors man, one of my partners man, because we didn’t want to die. We wanted to survive to make sure, you know, to do the revenge part, but it ultimately man is to see your family, man. So, you know what I mean? We’re on a whole other path now, man.
ORLAND: The bridge has both the symbolic and the reality behind it too.
RM: Yeah, yeah it does.
ORLAND: So, people always say that there’s two sides of the tracks, but a bridge is not on two sides, it’s on both sides.
ORLAND: Yet it’s not. And so the potential is that there could be an imagination for bridging whatever is dividing this community.