This post originally appeared on EcoWatch. Photos by David Hanson.
Any well-trained organizer can rattle off the importance of storytelling as a means to building relationships in service to a campaign or a cause. First, there is the story of self. Who are you and why do you care about the issues in question? What is it about your experience, identity or place in the world that motivates you to do something about it?
Second, there is the story of us—who are you and I together, and what are our shared values and hopes that lead us to do something to change the world we live in? What motivates us to act collectively? Finally, there is the story of now. What is happening in the world at this moment in time to compel us to act together out of our sense of common values, hopes and dreams? Crafting an authentic and compelling narrative is at the core of successful collective action.
Yet, storytelling is so much more than an organizing tactic or a marketing tool. As old as time itself, storytelling has been a primary way to make sense out of the world around us—retelling what has come before in order to understand what is happening now in order to shape what comes next. It’s an act of resistance—calling us to remember the tragedies, injustices and pain of the past as well as the triumphs and lessons from previous struggles. It’s an act of healing as we connect with others who we may never have the opportunity to sit down with face-to-face but whose experiences and worldviews resonate with our own. It’s in those moments of resonance and connection that a shared or public narrative emerges from a collection of singular stories.
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