Campus invited to add to ‘People’s State of the Union’

John Fenn, a professor in the UO arts administration program, also is a cultural agent for the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture

The University of Oregon community is invited to participate in a national “story circle” to create a “People’s State of the Union” as part of an effort to collect stories from citizens for the next president of the United States.

The event will be held Friday, Jan. 29, from 2:30-4 p.m. in the Many Nations Longhouse. It will be facilitated by John Fenn, associate professor in the UO arts administration program and a newly appointed cultural agent for the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture. The event is free and open to the public.

Between Jan. 23-31, individuals and organizations across the country will host story circles. Last year more than 150 communities signed up to contribute to the People’s State of the Union by sharing their own take on the state of our union.

The annual project seeks to weave a collective cultural narrative from local perspectives gathered in homes, schools, houses of worship and community organizations.

“Sharing a story about your experience of community and culture here in Eugene will put your voice in the democratically driven dialogue that is the People’s State of the Union,” Fenn said.

The full “Poetic Address to the Nation” will be broadcast live by the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture ‪on Feb. 20. Details  are pending.

As cultural agent, Fenn plans to facilitate several events and projects throughout 2016, ideally partnering with Eugene Cultural Services and a number of other on- and off-campus organizations and individuals.

The U.S. Department of Arts and Culture is a "people-powered" civic engagement initiative focused on community arts and culture participation. Read more. 

Fenn holds a doctorate in folklore and ethnomusicology and has conducted field research on popular music and youth identity, folks arts and material culture, the cultural history of African-American communities in Eugene-Springfield and the use of wireless technology in cultural heritage work.

By Marti Gerdes, School of Architecture and Allied Arts