In honor of International Peace Day


In honor of International Peace Day —

Saint Louis Story Stitchers is pleased to announce a chapter about the organization’s humble beginnings written by Susan Colangelo in the new book entitled Speak Peace: Words of Wisdom, Work, and Wonder by Ms. Lynette Ford and Sherry Norfolk.

The authors and contributors—educators, storytellers, and peacemakers—discuss what each of us can do to promote a more peaceful community, country, and world.

The book is available on Amazon

or directly from Story Stitchers at the Storefront Studio for $15.

Parkhurst Brothers Publishers, 2019

Excerpt from Chapter 16, Pick the City UP #DROP THE GUN #KEEP THE PEACE

by Susan Colangelo:

To understand Story Stitchers, think back over time through the field of artistic practice in social justice. Think of children’s building blocks that form a growing tower. The words on the blocks include historic incidents which involve human tragedy, artistic movements, and social movements.

For example, in the history of the Civil Rights movement in the United States, there is a strong example of systemic change generated in part, through storytelling. It is well recognized that Dr. King was a skilled orator and a mesmerizing storyteller. So, we had blocks that said, Jim Crow Law, Segregation, Discrimination, Dr. King, Civil Unrest, Boycott, Vietnam, Military Draft, Marches. and Police Brutality. Added to the tower were blocks of art such as music, (“We Shall Overcome,” “Keep Your Eyes on the Prize,” Bob Dylan’s “Only a Pawn in Their Game”), works of photographers such as Gordon Parks and Bill Hudson, and videography of journalists showing dogs tearing at protesters’ flesh, and the blasts of fire hoses. These shocking and undeniable images entered the living rooms of American families through the evening news. Our art helped to tell the stories, solidified change in American hearts and minds and helped to bring about justice. The resulting pressure generated a toppling of the status quo and the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Another example is the AIDS Memorial Quilt. The quilt was conceived in 1985 by Cleve Jones, a gay activist working in San Francisco. In 1987, Cleve and his colleagues encouraged survivors to create quilts three by six feet describing their loved one, and send them to the project. Today there are more than 48,000 quilts commemorating people who have died from AIDS. The NAMES Project Foundation cares for and exhibits the quilt and has raised over $3 million for AIDS service organizations. The quilts — a massive community effort and outpouring of grief —  helped Americans to visualize and understand the enormous number of lives lost to the AIDS epidemic. They helped put pressure on Congress to fund medical research and to create and enforce AIDS and illness-related anti-discrimination laws. The social consciousness of the country changed, one stitch, one tear, and one story at a time.

When people come together to work collectively for social justice they can create a strong impact. Artists can help to tell the stories that will move hearts and minds. These are lessons from history that Story Stitchers demonstrates. In this work, there is an inherent belief that art and word are essential ingredients to the creation of the social justice needed to create a peaceful society. There is also an understanding that the work must be grounded in the community it serves. For Story Stitchers, this is the African American community of St. Louis.

Mariana Parisca, Susan Colangelo and KP Dennis at the Story Stitchers Storefront Studio at 616 N. Skinker. (Photo: Danny Reise/WUSTL Photos)

Not Another One! is discussed in the chapter in Speak Peace. Learn more about this multi-year project below.

Not Another One! A Discussion on Gun Violence

Purchase the full color book today at LuLu HERE!!

Add to school libraries, utilize in high school and college classrooms, and for professional training for anyone working with youth or studying race relations, trauma and gun violence prevention.

Not Another One! is a youth-led discussion that opens communication and identifies commonality, greater understanding, and ways to cooperate and collaborate between city police and teenage youth as both work to lower the high rates of gun violence in St. Louis, Missouri. The discussion details citizen rights, police policies and procedures, trauma caused by gun violence, and possible solutions in a frank, honest, and respectful discussion.

The discussion was transcribed and a book and is now available with foreword by Jason Q. Purnell, Ph.D., M.P.H., Assistant Professor at Washington University in St. Louis.


Want to get involved? Volunteers are gathering at the Storefront Studio, 616 N Skinker today, Saturday, September 21st, 2019 at 10:00 AM to work on planning the Super Heroes of the West Side, a health-themed Halloween Block Party for children and families. Come on in!