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Two Basic Tenets at the Heart of it All

If you were to dare a Stranger/ Reader to join you at any moment of your life journey, where would that Stranger reader find you on your opening page. 

If you were to dare that Stranger/ Reader to walk in your shoes, how would you go about it?   How would you take that Stranger/ Reader into your life, beyond judgment, beyond separation, beyond hatred and difference and fear? 

When we move beyond journaling just for ourselves, we are daring another person to accompany us, wherever our journey will lead.  This is equally true, whether it is a family member who has vilified or dismissed us, a mental health worker claiming to understand us, or a judge who might lighten our sentence.  We are driven by a wish to right the power dynamic.  It is a wish to be heard-- not passively, but in a call for action and change. 

Whether we form a writing circle in the community room of a prison or jail, not knowing how the assigned correction officer will respond, or in the corridors between double decker cages, whether we find are given the opportunity to work asynchronously, one on one, with prisoners rarely allowed to leave their cells, the principles of passing along the dare to help a hostile or indifferent “Stranger/Reader” to care remain the same.

This is equally true for those who are working on the outside with prison families or people in re-entry. 

We invite you to join Margarita and Victoria once again, to see how they helped the writers in their groups move beyond thinking about what might happen if their words had  the power to effect change, into shaping Page One Moments in which they first met the Stranger/ Reader.

As you watch their videos think once again of the two dares:


  • Where would you want the Stranger/ Reader to meet you at the most meaningful Page One Moment of Your Life. 

  • What will it take to dare that Stranger/Reader to care? 

Stop the videos as often as you wish to take notes about why the opening moments they chose were so effective.   

Page One Moment Videos:

Margarita Espada

Victoria Roberts

Returning to Those Moments
of Power and Beauty
Oral Imaging Before the Writing Begins

As we conclude this Unit, we invite you to relax and listen to Rich Paul, an intervention counselor for STRONG University (Nassau), as he takes his work on oral imagining into the realm of a public performance, before he actually starts to write. In preparation to partner with Herstory to bring the Dare to Care Approach to the youth in his charge, Rich worked with our founder to develop the moments of power and beauty that sustained him for over a decade behind bars.

Rich Paul

Reflection #4

Making this Curriculum Your Own

The notion of Passing Along the Dare to Care– the cornerstone of the Herstory approach– is remarkably simple, and therefore infinitely replicable. The ramifications in terms of healing and human rights are far reaching and profound.  

It is our hope and dream that the materials presented on this free open-source website will be as widely used as possible and that each new practitioner will take from them what is useful and make the methodology their own. We hope that this in turn will engender a new flowering of book-length and shorter memoirs from behind and beyond prison walls, to be widely distributed in the interest of our common humanity and justice and peace.   

Whenever anyone brings a new tool into the world, it is just that. Only a small part of the larger effort, to be added to the work that people are already doing?  

In closing this Unit, we invite you to reflect on how you are beginning to imagine using this curriculum and making it your own.   What most moved you?  What did you find most helpful in furthering the work you are already doing? 

As you move into preparing your tool kit for your first group meeting, what are your most important takeaways that you imagine being able to implement right away.

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