I believe that we start by listening. Only after listening fully can we begin to imagine the communications and community work that needs doing.
Getting folks to do things
Early in my career I worked to get college students to write in certain ways. Then I persuaded college students to persuade other people to act. Then I wrote to persuade people to act, myself. Along the way, I also did this work through graphic design, through journalism, through interviewing and listening.
We’re all stories in the end, but it takes resources and authority to tell our stories.
I realized that the reasons that college freshmen are afraid to speak up are the reasons that scare all of us. We don’t think we have the authority to contribute to important discussions, whether they be local, state, or national policy, or even areas of interest where we haven’t yet written the book on a subject. I like to ask people what they know and believe about authority and expertise and how that affects their willingness to tell stories. Along with this, I find that practicing narrative storytelling is useful for just about everyone, and I facilitate workshops where folks can do just that.
After doing this so many times, I find it easy to tell the stories of my own campaigns. There are core ideas to convey, but also human connections to be made with the person doing the reporting.