November 18, 2016

Narrative 4 co-founder Colum McCann on Empathy:
“Empathy Isn’t Soft. It’s All Muscle.”

Last week, in an act of true empathy after the US elections, executive director Lisa Consiglio convened a call for N4 ambassadors and leaders. N4’s global community of teachers, students, and writers joined together, committed to empathy, and drew an action plan for the weeks and months to come.

Co-founder Colum McCann reminded participants of the strength behind their work: “Let’s not forget: empathy isn’t soft, it’s all muscle. We have to turn the negative away from itself.”

From three countries and across the US, educators and students shared how they were putting N4 ideals to work in their communities. From University Heights High School in the South Bronx, N4 advisor and educator Lisa Greenbaum voiced the consensus: “We need Narrative 4 more than ever. We need to stop with the division. We need to continue getting into more schools.”

Founding member David Wroblewski agreed: “What we do best is listen. And that’s what we need to do right now. Nationally and internationally. This will help lead to the sort of change we so clearly need.”

In North Carolina, Kentucky, Connecticut, California, Colorado, New York, and Maryland, in Mexico and Ireland, callers of different ages were united in their belief that the fundamental Narrative 4 activities of story-telling and listening can lead to remarkable action. “Story-telling is about healing,” said Lisa Consiglio. “This is what we do in N4. We look for the chink of light in the dark. That’s where the real healing and understanding begins.”

“We need to address people’s fears with love and unity,” added 17-year-old student Sean Nelson, who called in from New Haven. “And most importantly standing in solidarity with those who are afraid.”

Can N4 help your community? Want to get more involved? Let us know!

Empathy in Action from the Field:
Story Exchange at University of Connecticut-Avery Point

“Fearless hope is what many of us need right now,” says University of Connecticut-Avery Point’s Nancy B. Parent.

This week, Nancy led a story exchange in her anthropology class with students who are “Muslim Albanian, Mexican, military, Jewish, women, white males, 18 to 70 years old, and representing the entire political spectrum.”

Despite their disparate viewpoints about the election, the students came together in “peaceful and reflective discussion.” Nancy told us that the discussion made clear the positive impact that deep listening could have on their lives.

Missed last week’s One Minute Weekly? Read it here.