Organizing tip of the week: Tell a compelling story

Organizing tip of the week: Tell a compelling story

“It is our sincere hope that Re:ImaginingChange will be a conversation starter with people from all walks of life who are willing to think big, dream hard, and struggle like hell for a better world.” From Re:imagining change. An introduction to story-based strategy

Everyone loves a good story. The story of being a Student for Sensible Drug Policy is one people should hear more, and there are thousands of different versions.  Who are the heroines and heroes in your chapter? Are there any villians or challenges on your campus? Has there ever been a great victory that you thought could be it’s own TV show? These are all great experiences that can be turned into compelling stories that draw new folks in, and inspire veterans toward action.

Story telling is something that is near and dear to me as an organizer, and something I wish was discussed more in activist circles of all stripes. I came across an incredible resource awhile back that will get you re-thinking, or re-imagining, the power of  story telling. Learning how to tell the collective story of your chapter, and our national movement, can be an incredibly powerful tool to unite your chapter members, while at the same time addressing how you can better connect with those who might be interested but just dont see how they fit in. You can download the guide from the organization Smart Meme for free here.

“Movements have won public support with powerful stories like Rosa Parks’ refusal to change seats, the AIDS quilt carpeting the National Mall in Washington, or the polar bear stranded in a sea of melted ice.”

We have all heard the other “usual stories” prohibitionists use to control the debate. False science and rhetoric run amok in the halls of power, and reason has little chance to enter the equation. By understanding how the dominant conversation is constructed, you can use your voice to challenge assumptions in such a way as to redirect the flow of the entire conversation. Bringing the debate to our turf will go a long way to winning over not only public support, but also inspire those who do agree with us toward action.

This manual is jam packed with ways to frame the debate on your campus, and ensure the right SSDP message wins out over the prohibitionist’s that will try to paint you in a negative light. Knowing how to craft a story will help you change the entire discussion, and shift the debate to what’s most important to you.

Here are some choice quotes to get you thinking:

“In politics, whoever frames the debate tends to win the debate”.~ George Lakoff

“In order to succeed in a social change effort it is essential to understand which type of story you are trying to tell. The story of the battle is about mobilization; the battle of the story is about persuasion.”

“A well-tested sound byte or powerful image alone will not win campaigns or invoke systemic change, but the right meme CAN help our organizing become exponentially more effective.”.

“Shifting the climate, moving the center of gravity, and changing the story are all metaphors to describe a cultural shiftt hat creates the space for political changes to emerge”

You can download the guide for free here

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