People's State of the Union 2016

Every January, the President delivers a State of the Union address highlighting important issues from the past year and suggesting priorities for the coming year. It’s a broadcast from one to many. But democracy is a conversation, not a monologue. Understanding the state of our union takes We the People reflecting in our own communities on our challenges and opportunities locally, nationally, and globally.

The People’s State of the Union is an invitation to supplement the President’s stories with our own, together hosting a national conversation in our own homes, schools, houses of worship, and community organizations. To change the world, we have to change the story!


The People’s State of the Union has two main parts: story circles across the nation, and a collaboratively composed Poetic Address to the Nation. (Yes, our State of the Union address is a poem!)

Between January 23-31, 2016, individuals and organizations across the U.S. will host story circles. (Last year, more than 150 communities signed up.) Participants are invited to share their own take on the state of our union, either by reflecting on the following prompts or by creating their own prompts around a specific theme such as education, environment, or racial justice (e.g., “Share a story about something you have experienced that gave you insight into the state of education in this country”):

  • Share a story you think the next President absolutely needs to hear.
  • Share a story about something you have experienced that gave you insight into the state of our union.
  • Share a story about a moment you felt true belonging—or the opposite—in this country or in your community.

When you sign up to host a story circle—whether it’s a few folks in your own kitchen or a dozen simultaneous circles in a high school gym—you’ll get a free Toolkit that explains absolutely everything you need to know to organize, promote, and pull off your event, plus online training and technical assistance. Sign up below.

When PSOTU 2016 launches on January 23rd, the story portal will go live. Scribes from each event (and individuals anywhere) will be able to easily upload stories to a website where they can be browsed and shared. (You’ll find more than 500 stories at the PSOTU 2015 story portal.) Members of the USDAC National Cabinet will once again offer their own commentary too.

As the culminating event, a diverse group of poets will be invited to collaboratively create the 2016 Poetic Address to the Nation, which will be performed and livecast in February. (Watch and read the 2015 Poetic Address to the Nation.)