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Communicators gather for frank talk

Orange and blue were the new black Thursday night when Piper Kerman, the author of the book that inspired the Netflix series, spoke in Gainesville.

Kerman talked about the lack of justice in the criminal justice system for frank, a three-day gathering that aims to solve some of the biggest problems facing society.

UF students and top social change communicators from around the country spent the last two days at the Hippodrome State Theatre working toward that goal.

“We wanted to bring those social change communicators together to help them share the best of what they know and strengthen our field,” said UF professor Ann Christiano, who helped organize the event.

Kerman’s book follows that philosophy, as she reflects on her time in prison to explore the “extreme injustice and inequality” for prisoners and make those issues more accessible to readers.

“The best public interest communications efforts are fundamentally narrative,” Kerman said. “Human beings are hardwired to be interested in stories first.”

UF’s College of Journalism and Communication is hosting frank at the Hippodrome to honor the life and legacy of its namesake, UF alumnus Frank Karel.

Karel spent his life pioneering the field of public interest communications, inspiring a loyal group of followers through his groundbreaking use of communication to drive positive social change.

Christiano worked with Karel before he died in 2009.

“What Frank Karel was as a person, we aspire to be as a field,” she said.

In 2007, a fund endowed a professorship to ensure that someone could continue Frank’s work.

Christiano was chosen as the inaugural Frank Karel Chair in Public Interest Communications, making her the world’s first and only endowed chair in that field.

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She said frank is one of the ways she is using her position to shape the field and share Karel’s story.

[A version of this story ran on page 8 on 2/28/2014 under the headline "Communicators gather for frank talk"]

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