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Life & Work with Laurel Gourrier and Danielle Jackson

Today we’d like to introduce you to Laurel Gourrier and Danielle Jackson. 

Hi Laurel and Danielle, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
Birth Stories in Color (BSiC) grew from a shared experience with her co-host Laurel Gourrier at a Doulas of Color training. They quickly realized that women/birthing people of color felt liberated to speak their truth and could not stop sharing their own experiences with giving birth. Laurel and Danielle were led to create a platform honoring the art of storytelling and the voices of families of color. The podcast has archived stories from birthing people that identify as Black, Indigenous, Asian, Latinx, and/or Multiracial. Laurel and Danielle have both shared their individual stories. They have invited their guests as fellow oral historians to build a community and a collection of stories to be shared globally. The podcast has been downloaded on six continents, reaching over a thousand weekly listeners. 

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
The coronavirus pandemic has impacted our availability to gather in person with storytellers and the community to collect stories and process them within intimate settings. We have utilized various modes of collecting stories using technology, but the intended workshops are best attended in person. Connecting in this format allows for the storyteller to share undistracted and with a level of confidence that they will be “seen” in their experience. We have found that the physical presence of others when storytellers are sharing provides a deeper level of comfort. We have intentions of touring the world to meet storytellers in person, allowing for greater connectivity and building rapport. 

Over the past 5 years, BSiC has been predominately self-funded, with occasional sponsorship support. As we examine the future of BSiC we know that to help strengthen it, we must reach out for additional support. We are currently crowdfunding to support the cost of recording, producing, promoting, and transcribing BSiC. The funds we raise will also help expand our reach as we begin to channel the work of the podcast to-person opportunities to educate and inform families as they enter parenthood. 

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
Laurel Gourrier is a reproductive justice and family advocate. Laurel began her professional journey of supporting families as a special education teacher/family advocate, specifically serving children diagnosed on the Autism spectrum. She earned a master’s in Special Education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The birth of her first child led her to begin her work as a doula. Laurel provides families with information and tools to help them feel empowered by their own birthing experiences, as well as holding space as an ally to birth inclusivity through a reproductive justice lens. The core value of uplifting autonomy is the root of her practice. She currently supports families in Columbus, Ohio, and New Orleans, as a birth/postpartum doula and co-host of the podcast Birth Stories in Color (BSiC). 

Danielle Jackson is a wife, mother, and reproductive justice advocate. Her work has led her into labor rooms as a birth doula and behind the microphone as half of the podcasting duo hosting Birth Stories in Color (BSiC). Danielle seeks to empower women to birth without fear through remembrance and confidence. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Integrated Social Studies from The Ohio State University, where her studies included history, anthropology, and sociology. She has worked as a Family Specialist to help families recognize their strengths and build healthy support systems. Danielle focused her skills on doula services in 2016. Issues in our community have drawn her to be a change agent in the ongoing fight for birthing justice in Columbus, OH. 

We believe postpartum is a forever journey! This support is just as sacred as birth, as it is the foundation to the beginning of your family life. Whether it’s your first baby or third (or more!), postpartum support can nurture your transition and empower your family as a unit while welcoming the new member.
BSiC is committed to this sacred time and is excited to now offer postpartum doula and lactation/baby feeding support. As your postpartum doulas, we serve and support the birthing person and their family in the home and/or virtually after delivery during the fourth trimester. Our in-home support enables the family to meet their needs to nourish, revive, nurture, surrender and heal.

Our list of support services can be found on our website under “offerings.”

How do you define success?
We do not take for granted that holding space for our storytellers is a gift and sacred work. For us, success is that BSiC provides and holds community care at the forefront. Storytellers have often not shared their full stories with anyone; we allow space for them to pause and experience the emotions of their births as they speak them aloud. Narrators who have birth trauma are encouraged to seek additional support with a mental health provider after sharing them as they continue to heal. We want this space to always feel authentic and that it too belongs to the community. Those that share and connect to the stories know their voices and experiences are valued. 

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Image Credits

Marcella Cua Homan

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