Digital Storytelling Campfires
To advance justice and equity, together with our partners, we are working to transform policies, practices, and systems. Narrative and storytelling are central strategies for shifting the public attitudes that underpin these levers of change.
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Narrative and storytelling are a central strategy for shifting the public attitudes that underpin levers of change.
When people are treated seriously, in time, people will expect to be treated seriously. This helps contribute to a movement of expectation from story holders over time.
When you're a small org, doing this work on your own can be overwhelming. Campfires have re-assured me there are others in the same space.
Back in 2021, we began a storytelling exploration with the Centre for Public Impact and Hands Up Mallee, to better understand what might be needed to support narratives for transformational change and build greater storytelling capacity in social change initiatives. We reached out to storytelling experts and community-led organisations engaged in storytelling to explore what is needed to enrich the field. What we learned is captured in the report Storytelling for Systems Change Insights from the Field.
As a result of the suggestions in the report we’ve developed a series of digital storytelling campfires – workshops aimed at building a network of Australian place-based community-led evaluators, communicators and storytellers that share, learn, and connect around system change storytelling and are supported to address the opportunities and challenges of communicating collective, long-term stories of change.
Campfires and the campers
Our campers first came together to develop a charter and values to guide them on their exploration. They then designed the two following campfires based around ethics and storytelling and the ways that stories can be used in evaluation. They also wanted to learn from each other’s experiences, recognising the expertise among them and in their communities.
Participants attended from across Australia including VIC, NSW, SA, TAS, and the NT.
The second campfire focused on ethical storytelling, and they invited Our Race to share their Transformational Ethical Storytelling (TEST) framework with the group.
The third campfire focused on evaluation and system change and the role of stories. They worked with inspirational evaluator Kate McKegg to grapple with the tensions and dilemmas that are perennial to those working in the evaluation and system change space.
Narrative Change has emerged as a field over the past few years based on the insight that in order to achieve lasting, systemic change, it is not enough just to change a few policies. We need to shift the underlying system of stories that help people make sense of the world. Brett Davidson – SSIR 6 June 2022.
We learned that there is value in strengthening a community.
|From Kallie – “When you’re a small org, doing this work on your own can be overwhelming. So this session has re-assured me there are others in the same space.”|
We learned that there is value in learning together.
|From Shandel – “Content weeks have been very engaging and right on point as we grapple with what this work is and how to move it forward.”|
We learned there is value in building ethics and trust.
|From Michelle: “When people are treated seriously, (depth of relationship and consent practices and process) in time, people will expect to be treated seriously. This helps contribute to a movement of expectation from story holders over time.”|
We learned that there is value in sharing our resources.
|From Tori: “I think there’s such a great opportunity to share resources (like TEST informed consent forms) with each other as we develop them to be adapted and contextualised to specific initiatives.”|
Narrative change and how to do it well is an emerging field, especially for philanthropy, so learning and sharing insights that contribute to greater collective knowledge is essential if we are to grow the field in Australia. Community-led, place-based initiatives are focused on systems reform change but have limited capacity and funding to tackle narrative change in backbone teams. The Storytelling Campfires are an opportunity to build that capacity as well as a platform from which to advocate for greater resourcing. We will be continuing our campfire series in 2023 and will look at how we can expand and share beyond the current campers so that more people can benefit from what we are learning together.
Now is the time for the social sector to invest more than ever in the production and distribution of a wide range of stories and experiences that will help millions of us envision better, more just systems, and make them feel real. Brett Davidson – SSIR 6 June 2022