Voices of August, 5.0

storytelling-quotes-8The dictionary defines “community” in two ways:

In a physical sense, community is “a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.”

In a mental or spiritual sense, community is “a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.”

I think both definitions apply to the wonderful group of people who participate in the annual writing project known as Voices of August. Starting today and continuing daily through the end of the month, Rough and Rede II will feature a piece written by a guest blogger.

There is no single prompt or unifying topic. Each person chooses what to write about. And with participants ranging in age from their mid-20s to their 60s, the result is an enticing mix of generational perspectives that illuminate the past and present.

Launched five years ago as a way to bring more variety to my blog, Voices of August has become a vehicle to share stories, to reveal feelings and insights, to discover common ground or points of disagreement. It’s all good.

Though most of us live in Oregon, many others do not. They reside in nearby Washington and California, but also in places like Texas, Utah, Illinois, Ohio and Washington, D.C. — not to mention France and Slovenia.

As organizer of this annual event, it’s my privilege to invite friends, family and former co-workers to participate. Some are professional writers. Most are not. And that’s the beauty of this exercise. Providing a forum for all people to tell their stories — honestly, safely and often with humor — brings writers (and readers too) together in a way that I rarely see online.

There is genuine dialogue, there is empathy, there is support. There is real learning that takes place from considering a different cultural point of view or someone else’s formative experiences. And, not least, there is a kind of validation that occurs when you recognize some aspect of yourself in another person’s story.

Ultimately, VOA is about connecting.

Whether you’re new to VOA or a seasoned veteran, I hope you will be generous with your feedback. Please consider leaving your comments on the actual blog posts in addition to anything you might say on Facebook, where I will link to each piece.

If you’re new to Voices of August, you can view last year’s posts. Here’s an index page of authors and topics from 2014.

Now, let’s get started, shall we?

— George Rede

Photograph: QuotationOf.com

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