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Story in the Public Square

We'll be hearing more about "Story in the Public Square," a partnership between Salve Regina University's Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy and the Providence Journal, in the run-up to the initiative's April 12 conference.

But just a word about it here. The effort, spearheaded by the ProJo's G. Wayne Miller and Pell Center director Jim Ludes, is a year-round effort - lectures, awards, student contests - that focuses on the power of storytelling in public space: in a newspaper or magazine or blog, in a theater or legislative chamber.

From the project's web site:

Storytelling is an ancient and underappreciated element of public life. Think of Christ's parables or Plato's dialogues - both used stories to communicate, instruct, inspire and persuade. In the American experience, think of Harriet Beecher Stowe's "Uncle Tom's Cabin," which fueled the abolitionist movement prior to the Civil War, or Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle," which contributed to a wave of reform and regulation in American industry.

Rhode Island still has some master storytellers, Miller among them. But the state - so colorful, so ripe for the public raconteur - can't claim as many as it once did. Perhaps this effort can remind us of what we're missing.

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