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Violence, Hope and Healing in Los Angeles County: The Storytelling Project represents a collaboration between the Office of Violence Prevention, the Department of Arts and Culture, and Creative Strategist Artist-in-Residence Olga Koumoundouros.
In the fall of 2020, at the height of the pandemic, Olga Koumoundouros began the first of 100 separate interviews with a diverse group of County residents directly affected by violence. The landmark project represented a collaboration between the Office of Violence Prevention, housed within the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, and the Department of Arts and Culture.
The original intention of the project was to document the effect of violence on the lives of our friends, our neighbors, and our communities; better understand where systems had helped or failed the participants; and to determine if there had been missed opportunities to intervene, earlier and more effectively.
The project was conceived prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and the brutal, shocking murder of George Floyd. Taken together, these monumental events in the history of our country changed both the context and process of the project and influenced who and why people participated.
The series of unsparing, courageous, and often moving testimonials provide a vivid, sometimes graphic look at the terrible physical and psychological toll that violence extracts on individuals and families. In addition, the stories offer compelling evidence how racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, poverty, addiction, and systemic failures have helped to perpetuate a culture of violence across communities. In some of the cases, people caught up in a seemingly endless cycle of violence became violent themselves.
From the stories, we see that while the cost of violence is imposed on communities across the county, it falls disproportionately on low-income communities and communities of color, where social marginalization and disempowerment may lead to violence and expose residents to violence within the criminal justice system.
At the same time, the stories reaffirm that violence is preventable, and highlight how we can support prevention and healing. Indeed, the news is not all grim. Through resilience and a fierce desire to improve their circumstances, many of the participants are hopeful and optimistic about the future.
Finally, these stories suggest a roadmap to achieve our vision of a county free from violence.
The Storytelling Project has four main goals:
Center Survivor Voice
To add a human element and context to data about violence to deepen the understanding of violence by lifting up the voices of survivors and individuals most directly impacted by violence and racism.
Build a Wider Audience for Hope and Healing
To combine the stories and photographs that can be shared with the public, county and community partners as well as the arts community, academia and philanthropy for capacity building, fund development, and advocacy efforts.
Strengthen Communication Pathways
To create and fortify new pathways of communication between county agencies, county leadership and community.
Increase Awareness About The Impact of Violence
To distribute and share stories through the book and through other communication mechanisms to inform policies and practices and raise awareness about the impact of violence.
Public Health has made reasonable efforts to provide accurate translation. However, no computerized translation is perfect and is not intended to replace traditional translation methods. If questions arise concerning the accuracy of the information, please refer to the English edition of the website, which is the official version.