“Our Stories, Our World” trailer out now, with six-episode series’ full schedule now available

CHICAGO—An alderwoman and an abolitionist. A retired Chicago police officer and a high-school dean of students. Those are just four of six Chicagoans (pictured below) who share deeply personal stories that shape their vision of their city and public education, public safety and public health in a new limited podcast series out now. Shaped and hosted by three Chicago youth, “Our Stories, Our World” is the culmination of a months-long collaboration between two nonprofits; it combines audio stories and photography in a series of citizen-centered podcasts that add depth and context to stories focused on narrative change and community building.

Click here to listen to the trailer.

Pictured: Interviewees are (top row from left) Shohn Williams, Rossana Rodriguez, Vanessa Westley, and (bottom row from left) Tynetta Hill-Muhammad, Taneka Jennings, and Shyam Prabhakaran

Public Narrative, a longtime advocate for broader, more accurate and more authentic community representation in media, and A Picture’s Worth, a nonprofit focused on strengths-based storytelling for community transformation, recruited and trained Kaylen Brandt, 17, of Chatham; Daniel Animashaun, 16, of Woodlawn; and Andrea Hernandez, 20, of Englewood for the project. After training in story-gathering, each youth conducted two interviews, each focused on one of Public Narrative’s three thematic pillars: public safety, public health and public education. 

“These podcasts take listeners deep into the heart of our communities, where they can hear from people who want to see important issues in our city explored further, rather than being reduced to headlines and stereotypes,” said Jhmira Alexander, Public Narrative’s President. “I’m so impressed with the work of our youth in bringing thoughtful, complex perspectives to the forefront.”

“The stories you’ll hear in Our Stories, Our World illustrate just how much we can learn when we center different people in our narratives,” said Elissa Yancey, MSEd, co-founder and CEO of A Picture’s Worth (APW) and longtime journalist and educator. The APW theory of change posits that when sources select their own narrative frames—by describing a single photo from an important time in their own lives—the resulting narratives can not only build deeper understandings, they can bridge both regional and ideological divides. “Listening to the young interviewers draw out fresh insights on critical community topics was an inspiration. Now, those interviews have been shaped into compelling podcasts that will intrigue anyone, in any city.”

The series also features original music by Malci, a Chicago-based hip-hop artist, producer and co-founder of Why? Records. He’s been releasing music since 2015, but this is his first foray into making music for podcasts.

The collaboration began earlier this year, and despite COVID-19-related setbacks, both nonprofits remain committed to the project, which combines strengths-based storytelling and community engagement. “These podcasts build on our work to share authentic storytelling from, by and about our communities to spark narrative change,” said Alexander. “We’re excited to not only create important content about our city, but also to train a new generation of story-gatherers in ways to responsibly elicit and share their neighbors’ stories.”


  • Oct. 7 – Episode 1: Shohn Williams, Dean of Students at Lindblom Academy, interviewed by Daniel Animashaun (Public Education) 
  • Oct. 21 – Episode 2: Rossana Rodriguez, 33rd Ward Alderwoman, interviewed by Kaylen Brandt (Public Education)
  • Nov. 4 – Episode 3: Vanessa Westley, retired Chicago Police Officer, interviewed by Andrea Hernandez (Public Safety)
  • Nov. 18 – Episode 4: Tynetta Hill-Muhammad, Chicago Chapter Organizer for Black Youth Project 100, interviewed by Andrea Hernandez (Public Safety)
  • Dec. 2 – Episode 5: Taneka Jennings, Board Member, Adoptees for Justice, interviewed by Kaylen Brandt (Public Health)
  • Dec. 16 – Episode 6: Shyam Prabhakaran, MD, MS, neurologist and researcher at University of Chicago, interviewed by Daniel Animashaun (Public Health) 

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