• "Palestine Speaks" Featured in San Francisco Chronicle

      Palestine Speaks featured in today’s San Francisco Chronicle! Thanks to Evan Karp for this great attention for the book and our work.

      "At the age of 24, when Abeer Ayyoub made it out of Gaza and into Jerusalem for the first time — a trip of approximately 45 miles, as the crow flies — Palestinians in Israel not only did not believe she was from Gaza, but they also expressed some shocking stereotypes: One made a joke about her having bombs in her pockets, another that she was ‘cute and smart’ and therefore couldn’t possibly be from Gaza.

      Such is Ayyoub’s recollection in ‘Palestine Speaks,’ the latest in the Voice of Witness series, which was published just this week. Ayyoub is one of 16 people living in the Palestinian territories whose narratives make up the volume; they were selected from more than 60 people interviewed in the past four years for their range in demographics in an attempt to offer a more accurate depiction of life there under military occupation.

      Full of life, at times laugh-out-loud funny and — perhaps more than anything — eye-opening, the book was compiled and edited by Cate Malekand Mateo Owen. When Malek moved to Bethlehem to work for a nonprofit tourism group, they realized they had an opportunity to report on the situation. After a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2010, Hoke joined Malek for five months and began conducting interviews.

      Sitting in the office of McSweeney’s, which publishes the Voice of Witness books, Hoke spoke about the idea behind ‘Palestine Speaks.’ ‘A lot of people have a feeling, when it comes to the Middle East, that it’s just this dark place and the problems there go back so far that it’s wholly intractable,’ he said. ‘We wanted to shed some light on that mode of thinking and just allow people a look into the lives of people who live there.’

      The idea behind Voice of Witness is to illuminate human rights issues through oral history.

      'Our mission is to foster a more empathy-based and nuanced understanding of contemporary human rights issues and social justice issues,' said Mimi Lok, executive director of Voice of Witness and executive editor of the series. ;As a result, we become better citizens. We become better advocates not just for the causes that we’re already supporting but for the underlying cause of all movements, which is to preserve human dignity and human rights. Whether you’re an advocate for LGBT rights or you’re working for housing or you care about the situation in Gaza or Sudan or Burma — it all comes down to the same thing.’

      Article by: Evan Karp is the founder of Quiet Lightning and Litseen.com.Twitter: @Litseen

      Upcoming Events for Palestine Speaks: 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 14. 
      826 Valencia, 826 Valencia St., S.F.

      Also 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 19. 
      North Gate Hall, J-School Library, UC Berkeley.


    • Spotlight on Our Supporters: Suzanne Skees

      What is unique about Voice of Witness? They produce beautiful, extremely high-caliber works of literature and then they take it a step further. VOW uses the art of storytelling to empower others and raise awareness about human rights violations. I admire how VOW creates a platform for those without a voice to finally be able to reveal who they are.” 

      Pictured:  Suzanne  Skees with  students  in  Tanzania.     

      The work of Voice of Witness is possible only through the generosity and commitment of our donor and advocate community. We are grateful to the Skees Family Foundation for their continued support.


    • You're Invited: Celebrate the Release of Palestine Speaks

      To celebrate the publication of Palestine Speaks we have events planned around the country with the book’s editors, Cate Malek and Mateo Hoke.

      Friends in the San Francisco Bay Area, Austin, TX, Denver and Colorado Springs areas: we hope you’ll join us and invite your networks.  

      See all upcoming Voice of Witness events for November and December here.


    • Behind the Scenes of Our Upcoming Community Guide

      Pictured: Willie, a jewelry salesman, reflects on the violence plaguing Oakland. When asked if he could tell young people anything, he says,”Nothing is going to make (violence) stop. All you can do is believe in God a little bit more.” Photo and caption by Pendarvis Harshaw, from his photo project OG Told Me

      We’re currently in the beginning stages of producing a community guide to oral history. Say it Forward will include case studies of oral history projects and guide readers in facilitating storytelling projects of their own. One case study is Pendarvis Harshaw’s innovative web series, OG Told Me, which features his photography and interviews with elder men in his Oakland community. 

      If you’d like to get involved, we are looking for volunteers to help with transcribing interviews. Please send us a note and we’ll be in touch.


    • About McSweeney's Publishing Announcement

      About McSweeney’s Publishing Announcement

      McSweeney’s Publishing (which publishes our book series) announced today that they are now operating as a fiscally-sponsored nonprofit project. As such, McSweeney’s is now allowed to accept tax-deductible donations.

      To clarify the relationship between the two organizations, Voice of Witness remains a separate nonprofit fiscally independent from McSweeney’s. We receive no portion of funds from…

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