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Danny on People’s District

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

Hi Everyone,

People’s District has been an incredible labor of love. Thank you for taking a journey across Washington with me. Over these past three years, the incredible citizens of D.C. have invited me into their homes to share their stories with our People’s District community.

During this time, I have learned to play pinochle with church ladies, toured a dominatrix’s dungeon, sat by the bedside of the dying, drank tea with gang members and toured every neighborhood of this remarkable District.

Most importantly, the site has changed my life.

A once grey suited terrorist financing analyst at the Treasury Department, I now proudly spend my days helping people tell better stories and build stronger communities through my newest venture, StorySocial.

Not to worry, I have not turned away from oral history or storytelling. To the contrary, I am taking the best of People’s District and launching a series of new campaigns, projects and initiatives to get the world talking.

Thank you for giving me the support and love to make People’s District happen. It is not easy to meet a stranger every day and spend the evenings transcribing hours of conversation and negotiating with Photoshop, but it was worth it. I have met so many incredible people in D.C. and around the world thanks to People’s District.

While the site may be on hiatus, I hope that you all will continue to live by its values: be neighborly, talk to strangers, and take an active role in your community.

I look forward to staying touch. Please feel free to keep up with my latest at www.storysocial.co or email me at danny(at)storysocial.co.

Now, go back to meeting your neighbors.

All my best,

Danny Harris

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Topics: All Stories — Danny @ 1:17 pm

Mark on A Wider Circle

Monday, February 27th, 2012

Mark Bergel, Ph.D. - Founder & Executive Director of A Wider Circle

“When we think about our society’s health, we are only as healthy as the least healthy among us. In truth, I don’t think I fully recognized that until I found myself around those who struggle everyday because of poverty.

“At the time, I was teaching at American University, and wanted my students to work with those in need. I wanted them to see that the most important thing we can do as humans is to connect with one another. While I had talked a lot about these things, something changed when I found myself in the apartments of some of our most vulnerable. There were three or four or five people living there with nothing. I saw 18-year-old parents and 30-something grandparents who had nothing, but a chair or a television. The cycle of poverty was just so clear to me.

“I had my ‘Aha!’ moment when I realized that we could do better. I did a lot of prayer, and realized that no one should live so much worse off than the person around the corner. I admit, I brought a healthy dose of naivete and idealism to my thinking. All of the people in my circle told me to work for a non-profit rather than start my own. For me, that was not going to provide the impact I wanted. I wanted to build an organization based on the fundamental desire to connect in order to end poverty.

A Wider Circle is a grassroots, people-powered non-profit working to help those in need. We provide educational services and have a free furniture showroom. We serve in a way where we can say yes to everyone. It doesn’t matter what part of town you are from. The region is filled with people who lived in D.C. last week, and now they are forced to live somewhere else because of eviction or they are looking for better shelters.

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Topics: All Stories,NE,Neighborhoods,NW,SE,SW,Work & School — Tags: , , , , , Danny @ 9:19 am

Heather on Helping a Stranger

Monday, December 19th, 2011

Keith, Heather, Lily, and Darius Coleman

“It has been over three years since that day. I am still trying to understand what happened on October 3, 2008. I feel like I am putting a puzzle together, and with each piece, I am healing. I want to know what happend along the highway, and why people were kind enough to stop and help me.

So many cars just drove by that day, but a few people stopped. I want to know why they did, and thank them.

“That day, I had to attend a funeral of a co-worker’s mother. I am not a religious person, but woke up feeling like God was speaking to me. I saw signs of his presence everywhere, little things like a car with a bumper sticker saying, ‘Follow Me.’ At the funeral, I thought the service was speaking directly to me. I didn’t understand what was happening, but I felt like I was a special person and God had chosen me to save the world.

“Later that day, I was driving home, and started to really lose it. I was having crazy thoughts from movies, driving in the breakdown lane, and having phone conversations with my husband thinking he was the devil and I was God. My husband realized that something was wrong with me, but he didn’t know where I was because I would not tell him.

“I started driving towards water, and ended up on a bridge along the Potomac. I don’t really remember all of it, but I got out of the car, and started taking off my clothing. A couple of people stopped because they found me running naked along the side of the highway. At that point, I was completely delusional and thought the world was ending. I wanted to be baptized in the river before it did.

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Topics: Fort Lincoln,NE,Neighborhoods,SE — Tags: , , , , Danny @ 10:04 am
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