Reflecting on 'Stories That Bind Us'

At Survivors’ Truths, we focus on the healing power of storytelling. A recent New York Times article by Bruce Feiler, The Stories That Bind Us, explored the ways storytelling can be a powerful tool in helping individuals and families cope with traumas.

In researching his book, “The Secrets of Happy Families: How To Improve Your Marriage, Rethink Family Dinner, Fight Smart, Go out and Play, and Much More,” Feiler discovered that one of the leading predictors of happiness and emotional well-being in children was the “Do You Know?” scale, which measured how much a child knew about their family. The more a child knows about their family and is able to identify as a part of their family’s history, the stronger their sense of self and intergenerational self, both of which are extremely valuable in learning to cope with difficulties and traumas.

Feiler had some advice for those looking to strengthen their family’s narrative. He suggested creating a family mission statement similar to those used by businesses to “identify their core values.” He also noted that the healthiest way to tell a family story is to use what he calls the oscillating narrative: one that acknowledges adversities faced as well as the strengths used to overcome them, rather than telling a story that solely focuses on successes or hardships.

As part of our “Strength in Story” Project, we’re looking for your stories about how you used your strengths to overcome adversity.

- Did having a strong family narrative help you cope with or overcome an obstacle?

- What would your family mission statement be?

- What is your family narrative?

Leave your reply in the comments or submit it as a video to our “Strength in Story” Project.


Survivors’ Truths at the Women of the World Awards, Lakers Foundation Event


Lakers forward Metta World Peace with Survivors' Truths Executive Director Dove Pressnall and Meghana Frenchman, the United Nations Association, Pasadena secretary.


Much of Survivors’ Truths’ work focuses on participatory and social media. However, we also strive to be active in the local non-profit community. We are always looking to spread our message while reaching out to those doing incredible work in Los Angeles and beyond.

We  made good on that mission this past Sunday.

Survivors’ Truths attended the 5th annual Women of the World Awards on March 10. The event, hosted by 50/50 Leadership and the United Nations Association's Pasadena/Foothills Chapter, honored local women who are making an impact in other parts of the world. Our executive director, Dove Pressnall, was an honoree at last year’s award luncheon. This time around, she discussed the relationship between women in leadership positions and women’s advocacy as a speaker at the event.

Survivors’ Truths could also be spotted at the 2013 Lakers Casino Night, an event benefiting the Lakers Youth Foundation. The foundation assists nonprofit community organizations and emphasizes the use of sports to promote education, teamwork and self-esteem.

In keeping with the theme of Women’s History Month, we want to know: Do you think there is a relationship between women in leadership positions and gender equality? If so, how can women in leadership positions change perceptions about leadership and gender?


Self-Care for Peacebuilders

"Peace is not the absence of noise, trouble or hard work. It is to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart."

This week, students from colleges all over the US have come together for Northwestern University Conference on Human Rights, "the largest undergraduate student-organized and student-attended conference on human rights in the United States." The conference has been extremely well-organized, the participants engaged, and the panelists inspiring in their breadth and depth of knowledge and experience. I was honored to be invited as a panelist, to talk about Survivors' Truths' model for working with survivor communities to create media that promotes peace and reconciliation.

In addition to making presentations, panelists were invited to facilitate breakout groups, where participants have the opportunity to ask questions and discuss issues raised in the plenary sessions. This afternoon, after discussing cultural differences in understanding of the self and manifestations of mental health problems as well as the complexities of re-training former combatants in civil conflict to be an effective military, a student asked, "How do you deal with the stress of this work?" This led us into a rich conversation about the value and importance of knowing one's own limits, honoring our preferences (don't go to a war zone if going to a war zone puts you in a constant state of anxiety), and things that one can do to make tough work sustainable.

Then we did some yoga. 


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Giving hope a voice all year long

LBS-tank.jpgSurvivors’ Truths works with some of the most hurt and marginalized people. Whether they have survived brutal civil war or the mean streets of Hollywood, participants in our projects have seen the worst our world has to offer.

They have also triumphed, in ways large and small, and kept hope alive in the darkest moments. This is what we build on, the part of the story we tell. 

When you give to Survivors’ Truths, you give to innovation - bringing the best of psycho-social work, documentary, journalism, and advocacy together.

More importantly, you give these people a voice. You share their story of hope. 

And that is powerful. 

So, please, as you prepare to celebrate a new year and new beginnings this coming week, consider amplifying these voices of hope by making a tax-deductible donation to Survivors' Truths.

Thank you,

Dove Pressnall, Founder/Executive Director


Johanna - A clear winner

It was no surprise that Johanna, Survivors' Truths sponsee was named Woman of the Year in the APAIT QUEST Transgender Advocacy Pageant. I first met Johanna at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, where we facilitate monthly media workshops with transgender youth and she was the inspiration for our TransYouth Speak Leadership Development group. Transgender youth face incredible stigma, isolation, discrimination and violence and this group was a haven for them. As they shared their stories and brainstormed what they wanted to do with video, Johanna spoke up. “I think we should have a theme It’s Time for a Change!” She went on, in coming weeks, to help her peers identify the issues they wanted to address. Soon, she pointed out that meeting once a month for a couple of hours wasn’t enough to do what they wanted to do. “We need to have a place where we can get together and work on this stuff,” she said. And so the TransYouth Speak Leadership Development group was born. This past September, we started having ‘office hours’ and a work group every week, with staff who can support both the message development and the technical production, as well as provide mentorship and leadership training to participants. This group, led by volunteer professional facilitators, supported by local businesses, is one of the few safe spaces in our community where transgender youth can participate in this kind of action. Please consider supporting this project by donating, fundraising, or just helping us spread the word on Twitter and FaceBook.

Thanks and happy holidays!

Dove Pressnall, Founder and Executive Director