5 good reads on change, recovery and resilience
Image courtesy of Jim Merithew from “I Died and Came Back and This is What I Learned.”
Change, whether experienced across a neighborhood or personally, can cause us to struggle, experience loss and reassess our perspectives. These stories, from five very different storytellers, resonate with ivoh’s work around the Restorative Narrative genre and show us how people react to and recover from change.
“I Died and Came Back and This is What I Learned“: In this Element.ly essay, avid bicyclist and award winning photographer and journalist, Jim Merithew candidly shares what he learn from his experience of death, loss and receiving a second chance. Living to tell the story of his triple bypass surgery, Merithew’s essay reads like a letter of unabashed gratitude for the road ahead.
“So I learned a few things about myself while dead,” Merithew writes. “Well not so much during the dead part, but during the road back.” The enlightenment this bike-loving individual shares is not a heavy-handed call to seize the day but an honest reaction to surviving death and living to have plans for his “comeback tour.”
“A daughter takes up her slain mother’s activism“: Daughter of a famous environmental activist, Berta Cáceres Flores, Bertha Zúniga Cáceres (or “Bertita” as she is called by most) is carrying on her mother’s mission to protect Honduras’ natural resources. The article written by Darryl Fears for the The Washington Post shares the plans 26-year-old Zúniga is making in her mothers wake. “At least 100 activists were murdered between 2010, a year after an elected president was ousted by a coup, and 2014, according to the international watchdog group Global Witness,” Fears writes. “Cáceres, a winner of the Goldman Environmental Prize who fought the government’s removal of indigenous people from river communities to pave the way for a massive hydroelectric dam project, was shot March 3 after years of receiving death threats.”
Zúniga confronted the Honduran government and flew to Washington to testify before the Organization of American States Inter-American Commission on Human Rights about violent and unjust climate in Honduras. Although the responses by the OAS and State Department have been disappointing, Zúniga understands that the road to justice is often difficult and she has not lost hope. She has become a leader and a symbol of resilience to many environmental activists in Honduras who struggle to do their work every day.
“A D.C. Rapper’s Love Song To A Gentrifying Hometown“: D.C. rapper and lawyer Tarica June’s song, “But Anyway,” has received a lot of local and national attention and was recently featured on NPR Music. The lyrics describe the ramifications of gentrification with a tone of nostalgia, humor and hope. As described by NPR staff, “it feels like a nostalgic love song for the town she grew up in — that, due to gentrification, is a very different place today.” People from other cities, including Oakland and Austin, have reached out to June to share that they feel the self-released song is representative of gentrification in their cities as well.
In “But Anyway” the D.C. native is quick to point out how gentrification affects people in big and small ways. “One thing that I remember is that even if you didn’t know all your neighbors, you would know, ‘That person is my neighbor.’ At least if you saw them, you would say hello,” June says. “And you hear people say stuff like, ‘Oh, nobody’s really from D.C.’ It’s like, OK — I’m still here.”
A reporter’s essay about working overnights: Peter Nickeas‘ reflective essay, which was published on Medium, examines the processes of adaptation, sadness, mental health and recovery. Nickeas, a Chicago Tribune reporter who worked overnight for years, calls the essay “a retrospective.” The personal essay dives into his emotional and mental status as an overnight reporter who witnessed violence and devastation night after night.
“It was the pace of it. It was the pace of overnights,” Nickeas writes. “Two or three murders on a bad night, or a week where we’re at 5 or 6 DOA’s in two nights and there’s family at each one? It’s nothing at the time because it’s work but it ends up being something later on, it turns out.” Some of the nights are a blur for Nickeas, who struggles to identify if he has PTSD now that he is recovering from overnights. His honest essay takes a close look into how taxing overnight reporting can be and how traumatizing witnessing violence is for an individual.
“Comic Tiffany Haddish on resilience and Roger Rabbit“: In this cbc radio “q” interview, reporter Gill Deacon speaks with comedian Tiffany Haddish about her childhood, resilience and storytelling in comedy. At twelve years old, Haddish was put in the foster care system. It was a safer option than remaining in the violent atmosphere of her home. Haddish describes her time in foster care as a time that helped her build her character and become the storyteller she is today.
Despite growing up in a series of “jail-like” group homes, Haddish believes her upbringing made her the resilient person and led her to her raw brand of comedy. Nowadays, the comic makes an effort to give back by regularly speaking at the Department of Children Services and with youth in the foster care system. She shares her story with young people to encourage them to dream big despite their situations and to let them know that if they find passion in the work they pursue, they can find fulfillment for themselves.