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Building Connection with The Yarn – “American Portrait PBS”

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  • Melissa Hite
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Right now, in the wake of COVID-19, many of us are isolating in our homes. We’re missing out on the day-to-day connections we took for granted before: laughing with coworkers in the breakroom. Going on dates. Taking communion at church. Hugging our grandparents.

But personal connection doesn’t have to come from physical closeness, even if that’s the form in which we often find it. We also find connection in a movie that makes us cry, a line of poetry that shoots straight to our hearts and puts words to a feeling we know. We find it in experiences that remind us that we’re all in this together, that humanity really is just one big family. We find it in stories.

That’s where we come in.

The Yarn

When we founded The Yarn in 2017, we wanted to create space for human connection in our Little Rock community through the power of live storytelling. We work to amplify voices, spotlighting narratives that are often overlooked in our society, and we aim to build understanding. We want our storytelling shows to break down barriers, to help you see yourself in someone completely different from you. We want you to come away more empathetic, more aware. Changed.

Of course, at the moment, we can’t hold shows live and in-person. But we’re still working to help you tell your stories — with a little help from our friends at Arkansas PBS.

American Portrait

In honor of its 50th anniversary, PBS launched the “American Portrait PBS” project in early 2020. This national storytelling project invites everyone across the country to participate in a national conversation about what it really means to be an American today. Like The Yarn, PBS and “American Portrait” are building connections — showing us that this nation belongs to all of us, no matter how different we might appear.

So, when Arkansas PBS approached us about partnering for a few storytelling workshops surrounding “American Portrait,” we jumped at the chance. It’s a natural fit, an opportunity to plug Arkansas into a national conversation, and a way to continue the work we’re passionate about through this uncertain time.

Our Storytelling Workshops

Sponsored by Arkansas PBS, we’re holding two free digital workshops centered around prompts from “American Portrait PBS”: “My American dream…” and “To me, work means…” In each workshop, participants will gain tangible skills, learning how to structure their experiences for an audience and connect with others around these shared themes. If you attend, you’ll leave with the makings of a story ready to post to the “American Portrait PBS” website.

  • “My American dream....” –Thursday, Aug. 27, 7-8:30 p.m.
  • “To me, work is…” – Saturday, Aug. 29, 10-11:30 a.m.
  • Click here to sign up. While the workshop is free, spots (and swag bags) are available only to the first 40 participants to sign up per workshop.

    We may be physically distanced from one another, but the stories we share with others — and the shared stories that make us who we are — can help us stay connected. We can’t wait to connect with you.

    The Yarn is a Little Rock storytelling initiative that uses the power of story to amplify voices, build understanding and create space for human connection. Find out more at