In "Memory Keepers," Frank Whitmore and Audra Harvey talk about faith, transformation, and the power of storytelling. It's been a couple of weeks since the episode aired, and I keep coming back to a theme that stuck out to me. We often talk about storytelling as an empowering exercise, and I framed it that way. But I've been reflecting more on something Audra said, that listening intentionally to the stories of others is a more subtle, and often more difficult, practice to master.
Frank is involved with an organization in Wedgewood-Houston called Tennessee Prison Outreach Ministry. TPOM works in prisons and jails around the state to provide spiritual guidance and practical skills to people who are preparing to come home, and their re-entry center on Rains Avenue bridges the gap, helping formerly incarcerated men and women to find jobs and make the transition. In June, TPOM opened a gorgeous transitional house in the neighborhood for men, and a women's house is on the horizon, and Frank was one of the its first residents.
On October 8, Frank graduated from their four month program. These days, he's living with his girlfriend, Donna, and working in refrigeration systems installation. He stays connected with TPOM and is doing great. Learn more about TPOM on their website. They're always looking for volunteers.
Audra Almond-Harvey is the co-founder of abrasiveMedia on the north side of the Wedgewood-Houston neighborhood. The 3000 square feet space hosts aerial dancers, martial artists, painters, performers, storytellers––artists of all stripes. Audra is also an artist in her own right; she performs, recently in an immersive theater production called Haunted, and writes poetry.
Audra is involved in a podcast of her own. It's called The Mixer: Legal to Brew Since 1967. It's a group of smart, witty multiracial Nashvillians who talk about identity, culture, politics, and everything else.
Audra Almond-Harvey (seated) and The Mixer crew. Photo by Ashley Marshall.
"Maybe some other folk had an identity crisis the first time they had to check a racial demographic box, and still don’t entirely know how to process it. We’re not promising answers. We are promising that we will continue asking the hard questions we face in our daily lives, and that we would like you to join us — whether you are like us, or not like us at all."
If you are multiracial, you can submit your story to be included on the show. Even if you're not multiracial, The Mixer is a great place to practice the intentional listening that Audra and Frank demonstrated so beautifully in episode 2 of WeHome. Learn all about The Mixer here. You can also find it on iTunes and Stitcher.