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Personal Storytelling for Social Change (4-Week Workshop)

This workshop series is co-organized by Dudley Cafe, Pao Arts Center, and PRX Podcast Garage. We are giving preference to participants with a connection to the Roxbury, Dorchester, and Chinatown communities. 

What if we treated our life stories like the most powerful tools for social change we had?  

Humans are storytelling creatures. As far as we know, we are the only species on the planet to tell and transfer information through story. Whether you’re aware of it or not, we make meaning of and understand the world through stories. And yet, many of us are unaware of the power contained in our personal narratives to shape and reshape the way people around us see the world.

This four-week workshop is designed to support participants to interrogate, reshape, and practice telling their personal stories in order to understand those stories as another useful tool in advocating for a more just, more beautiful, more sustainable world. The beautiful thing about life stories is that we all have one. And with the right approach, each of our stories can help us build the world(s) we want.

if you think you are too small to make a difference, you haven’t spent a night with a mosquito.
— african proverb

If you join this workshop you will:

  • learn how to analyze stories for their cultural impact

  • learn how to construct strategic stories

  • learn how to use/tell your personal story as a tool to shift the worldviews of people around you (i.e. your audience)

  • learn basic audio production including recording and editing in a professional studio

  • workshop and practice telling part or all of your personal story

  • perform your story at the Pao Arts Center in Chinatown or Dudley Cafe in Roxbury

The workshop will take place at the Pao Arts Center on the following dates:

  • Saturday, Sept. 8, 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.

  • Saturday, Sept. 15, 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.

  • Saturday, Sept. 22, 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.

  • Saturday, Oct. 6, 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. (note: Sept 29 is an off-week)

Participants should also save the date for both performances: 

  • Friday, Oct. 12, 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Dudley Cafe

  • Friday, Oct. 19, 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Pao Arts Center

Participants will have the option of performing a live story or playing an audio story created during the workshop.

Truth and Power belong to those who tell a better story
— Stephen Duncombe


Please fill out the application below by Sunday, September 2.

After applying, we will notify you if you are accepted into the class. We are giving preference to participants with a connection to the Roxbury, Dorchester, and Chinatown communities. 

The workshop is free; participants will receive a travel stipend upon completion.


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Lawrence Barriner II is a communications strategist, connector, and systems thinker. He has worked in communications and storytelling at the Interaction Institute for Social Change and the Community Innovators Lab at MIT. He also runs a life coaching practice, travels (occasionally) as a facilitator, and hosts a radio show and a podcast. Learn more about Lawrence on his Now page or at his website.


Heidi Shin is a radio + audio producer based in Boston, MA. She is a contributor to PRI's The World and the BBC World Service, and has served as a producer for National Geographic’s international investigative documentary series, “Explorer.” Heidi is also co-creator and producer of the podcast “The New American Songbook,” a podcast about immigrant musicians, produced in partnership with The GroundTruth Project and WGBH.

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Eric Liao is an administrator at PRX. He has worked as a producer for “One in a Billion,” a Cambridge-based podcast that focuses on stories of Chinese millennials and their experiences in America. In the past year, Eric has performed live stories at the Moth StorySlams. He also hosted a live storytelling event at the Podcast Garage called “Let’s Talk about Food.”



Through arts, culture, and education, the Pao Arts Center brings together community members across generations to reclaim a critical piece of Chinatown history and to create healthy families and vibrant communities. In partnership with Bunker Hill Community College, Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center opened the Pao Arts Center in 2017 to be Chinatown’s first community-based arts center and Boston’s newly dedicated Asian American and Asian immigrant cultural space. The Pao Arts Center sits on a historically significant piece of land, Parcel 24, where hundreds of Chinatown residents were displaced in the 1960s in order to build a highway on ramp. The reclamation of this land as a place to celebrate and explore Asian culture represents a powerful shift towards community oriented development in the face of rapid change.

The mission of Dudley Cafe is to provide the Roxbury family with wholesome food, in-house youth empowerment programs, a continued celebration of the arts, along with a creative space encouraging collaboration between locals and neighborhood organizations. Based out of the newly renovated historic Ferdinand building, a former furniture company, Dudley Cafe is part of Bruce C. Bolling Building in Dudley Square.