I am full of fire, butterflies, joy, and heartache about uncovering, producing, and promoting stories that have the power to move people like so many stories have moved me. Sometimes it's as simple as reminding me to be kinder to myself and to other people. Other times it's motivated me to pursue an idea or cause that needs attention.
I've worked with stories in some capacity throughout my career. I got started in PR, helping tech startups develop messaging frameworks and prepare for major launches, and most recently, spent four years at a top design firm like frog and IDEO capturing, editing, and publishing case studies, thought pieces, and culture moments.
But nothing compares to working on my own stories. I'm particularly enamored with audio as a medium. It's perfectly intimate and has stretched how I observe the world. My first project was a story about a perpetually shirtless cuddle therapist named Travis. I worked on that story with my friend Mary with the aim to learn by doing. While it took us many months to complete a ten minute piece, the process motivated me to continue my training; I went on to produce stories for KALW, SF's oldest local public radio station and Apex Express, a weekly magazine-style radio show featuring stories of Asians and Asian Americans. You can listen to my work under audio.
A day after the 2016 Election, I directed my feelings of frustration and helplessness toward what I hoped would be a part of solving our country's deepening divides. Along with my friend Tria, I co-created Make America Dinner Again, a dinner series that brings together people with different political viewpoints to build understanding through facilitated conversation and activities. In the past two years, we've organized more than 40 dinners in a dozen cities. Our dinners have been covered by national and international media outlets including NPR, BBC, and Mother Jones, reaching Americans in all 50 states and folks in more than 20 countries. Leading what has become a national movement is an incredibly rewarding and rich learning experience; I've shared some of what I've learned on Medium.
Other topics I'm interested in: inclusive design, the perilous state of science, people's rituals before bed, how longhual truck drivers find community, ways that virtual and augmented realities can empower unlikely creators and build empathy, and almost anything to do with food.
If you'd like to work together or send me a link to something cool, shoot me an email: justineraelee[at]gmail.com.