Two groups of men share their stories freely: men in recovery and men who are divorced with kids. I happen to be a double winner. Here I am, telling my story.
I’m Tom Matlack, cofounder of The Good Men Project. I started the project with James Houghton because I know I’m not the only one who’s ready to talk, and listen.
Many guys I know say they are in some sort of “transition”—shorthand, it seems, for having hit a brick wall of one form or another. Whether they are coming home from Iraq, going through a divorce, or working on Wall Street, these men share a common sense that the rules for us as men have been turned upside down. Regardless if we are struggling with being a single parent, with being laid off from our jobs, or with being unable to marry because we are gay, or if we are one of the too many men in this country who are locked up in prison, we are more alike than we might think. We all have stories to tell, and we all want to be good men.
The problem is, we rarely tell our stories—whether out of fear, or conditioning, or because it’s hard to fit them into normal, polite conversation. In my case, I didn’t know how to talk, listen, share, how to find the good. In my experience, what gets most men talking is what opened me up: hearing others’ stories, listening to guys digging deep and telling their truths, honestly, openly. No bullshit, no covering up, just the real deal. Just speaking from the heart.
The Good Men Project is men telling their stories in their language. It’s men sharing and search-ing for their good. And it’s an unfolding and limitless conversation about what good means, what the good man can be.
The Good Men Project is a four-pronged effort to build and sustain a national discussion about being a good father, son, husband, partner, and worker in America today.
First, it’s a book: The Good Men Project: Real Stories from the Front Lines of Modern Manhood is a collection of thirty-one essays written from the gut by a broad range of men—not just well- known writers, but also a former Sing Sing inmate, a father of five watching his wife die from cancer, a guy just back from Iraq, and a host of ordinary men willing to share their everyday struggles to define themselves as men in the twenty-first century.
Second, it’s a powerful film of the same title directed and produced by Matt Gannon, maker of the critically acclaimed feature documentary In the Crease and coproducer of the Oscar-nominated Girl with a Pearl Earring. The film presents the stories of ten men from varied backgrounds who share the emotionally charged and often humbling moments in their lives that made them who they are.
Third, The Good Men Project is a cause: All proceeds from sales of the book and DVD support The Good Men Foundation, a not-for-profit 501(3)(c) corporation that helps fund organizations that provide educational, social, financial, and legal support to men and boys at risk.
Fourth, The Good Men Project is building this all-inclusive conversation through online and public events, social networking, and other open-discussion forums, to give men from every corner of this country the opportunity to jump in and write their own chapter in the unfolding story of what manhood means today.
My hope is that The Good Men Project helps the guy who feels alone and trapped by the old views of manhood to no longer feel trapped, and certainly no longer feel alone. He may not identify with the situation in every story, but by reading the book, seeing the film, or participating in our events, he will see himself mirrored in the men in those stories and so find his own voice in the conversation.
— Tom Matlack, Cofounder, The Good Men Project and The Good Men Foundation
For more information, go to //www.goodmenproject.org/.