Oral history and a belief in a dialogical future

I had a very helpful and productive conversation with a good friend of mine the other night. He suggested that I expand DEMOI into the field of oral history/public history. I think his idea is outstanding.

For those of you who have been reading and following my page, you know that I have a podcast called ‘Talking to Canadians’ which features quite lengthy interviews (more are scheduled, by the way). As the podcast has evolved it has become less of a podcast and more of an oral history project. I am thoroughly enjoying the work and I have been wanting to expand the interviewing that I do.

In London there are many opportunities to explore the history and heritage of the city’s many neighbourhoods. Right now there are several proposed “Heritage Districts” which will require that researchers go out into the communities and interview residents about the history of their homes, neighbourhood stores and organizations and to talk with them about their life in their neighbourhoods. As you might imagine, I want to be a part of this and will be looking to join in the effort.

I am starting to think of DEMOI not only as a place of Socratic teaching, learning and discussion, but also as an inchoate institution (if I am allowed to use that word without sounding pretentious). My dream is to build an educational project that is capable of pushing back against the top-down, hierarchical methods that are used to steer people toward professional, vocational and occupation futures -not to mention, maintain class futures- which limit the scope of human potential. Better yet, I have a dream of combatting the alienation of labour, the tyranny of work which impacts so many of us.

I have long held to the belief that alienated labour or workplace tyranny is not inevitable. I see DEMOI as an attempt to work with people of all ages to find alternatives to a world of work-for-profit, work-for-competition and work-for-complacency. I see oral history as part of a broader dialogical process which has the potential to reexamine and potentially redefine human relationships. I believe, following in the footsteps of radical educators like Paulo Freire and Henry Giroux, that dialogue is a powerful device for personal and social liberation and that it engenders broader empathy. Already I am attempting to use oral history in my work as an independent educator. Here’s to believing that this endeavour can be part of a broader effort toward a better, more democratic future.

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Episode 8 of ‘Talking to Canadians’

Proud to present Episode 8 of ‘Talking to Canadians,’ featuring my lengthy and highly engaging conversation with Emma Blue. We are entitling this episode “The Continuing Conversation: The Need for Dialogue.”

The title of this episode is drawn from the many insights and observations made by Emma about how social change and institutional responsiveness require that dialogue take place not just between persons, but also between persons and institutions. Emma is deeply involved in helping young adults and marginalized youth engage with social institutions. One of her passions is finding ways to bring the experiences and stories of youth into the public eye and she does this through work with the London Youth Advisory Council (LYAC) and in London’s non-profit sector. She does this, I should add, while enrolled as a full-time student in Media Theory and Production, a joint programme between Western University and Fanshawe College.
In addition to her many talents, Emma is also an accomplished spoken word poet.

I hope that you can tune in: https://ryanoconnor.ca/talkingtocanadians/2017/6/25/talking-to-canadians-episode-8