Be A Part of the People’s State of the Union

PSOTU-logoOn January 20, 2015, President Obama will deliver the annual President’s State of the Union address where he will present his views on the progress the U.S. has made and the challenges we face.  For the first time this year, you will have an opportunity to add your creative voice to the discussion through a new initiative of the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture – the first annual People’s State of the Union.

The People’s State of the Union will be an opportunity for artists to reflect with friends and neighbors on conditions locally, nationally, and globally, and to supplement the President’s stories with your own.  If you would like to host a group of friends in your home or organize a larger public event during the week of Friday, January 23 – Friday, January 30, please register as a host on the USDAC website by January 8.  If you are not able to host, but would like to participate, please join the USDAC mailing list to get announcements about events in your area.

At People’s State of the Union gatherings around the country, each person will be asked to share a 3-minute story (through words, music, or other forms of creative expression) that responds to one of the following prompts:

  • Tell a story about a moment you felt true belonging—or the opposite—in this country or in your community.
  • Describe an experience that showed you something new or important about the state of our union.
  • Talk about a time you stood together with people in your community. 

Women at a USDAC Gathering

The stories, along with poems, songs, photos, and videos inspired by the prompts will be uploaded to the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture website, and then, a group of some of the best poets in the country will collaboratively create a poem based on the materials shared online. This “People’s State of the Union Poem” will be performed at the Bowery Poetry Club in New York City and broadcast live over the Internet on February 1, 2015.  Transcripts will be made available to the public for future readings and performances.

It is especially important for women to share our stories and imagine the policies that would bring us full equality.  Although the President will be talking about economic recovery, women still don’t have equal pay for equal work, and many women are struggling to make ends meet.  We need to share our stories about the economy and the social services and legislation that might help us. The newspapers have been focusing recently on the stories of National Football League players who are accused of domestic violence – women need to share our perspectives on domestic violence and the legal protections we need.  Why is so much violence against women tolerated in the U.S. and abroad?  Is the healthcare system serving our needs? How do we feel about the attacks on our reproductive rights?  Are we confident that our girls are being educated to reach their full potential?  There is a lot to talk about.

Please consider hosting or attending a People’s State of the Union event.  If you register to host, you will be sent a toolkit to help you prepare for your event, and you will have opportunities to participate in online webinars for the hosts.  It will be a wonderful opportunity to share your perspectives and to stand in solidarity with citizen artists in the U.S. and elsewhere who use their creativity to support justice for all.