Learning a new language means rediscovering how your mouth and your voice work together. Earlier that year, I felt cut off from both. I had always considered myself an activist and a writer. But I noticed a shift. I had stopped writing, and focused solely on activism work. I was leading campaigns against corporations and corrupt politicians – and some of them were even working – but I was burning out.
“When you’re trying to do organising work, if you don’t address those underlying narratives and work to both shift them – shift away towards more liberation – but also to create alternative narratives that are really about liberation, then it’s going to be really difficult to do that work. That’s really why we got started.“
The dominant narratives are asking the wrong questions. Our analysis and our solutions will depend on the questions we ask ourselves. Why are there more than 10,000 people leaving their homes, their families? Why are they going to the US? It is a complex situation and there are no easy answers, no easy solutions.
With this list, our goal is to build the capacity of change agents, ourselves included, for understanding what memes travel far and wide with the most impact. If we know our work is to #changethestory, how do we deploy increasingly-effective memes that shape politics and culture towards the justice we all so desperately need?
“Voting”, as meme then, is a capsule that holds a ton of underlying assumptions. The story of voting contains ideas about what valid and full participation look like and what exactly constitutes democracy.
The reality of the Borderlands set in on our first walk around town. Cristóbal (CSS Trainer based in Nogales) and Marla from KBI took us to the memorial site of Jose Antonio, a Mexican teen who was murdered by the Border Patrol from the U.S. side of the fence, while he played with his friends on a Mexican street corner.
Deep in my knowing is a core truth: that love is not something to mistrust, that we must fight for each other instead of competing against each other. To my fellow imagineers, story-nerds, and powerful community, please join me in welcoming Shana back to CSS!
I was asked to put together a short 3-minute animated video to introduce story-based strategy. Originally it was going to be one of those graphic note-taking type videos. Through the process of making the video the concept and design of the project changed dramatically and the final result was a stop motion animation short film. This project is a bit meta, we are using story-based strategy to explain what is story-based strategy and then within the animation itself, the storyline is that of a community using story-based strategy to win.
How is the network of CSS learning? I also wonder how might it learn (harder) better, faster (stronger). And all of that is within the broader context of CSS’ mission: to build power through imagination and create shared narratives that support the movement of movements to ensure a Just Transition.
I am working with CSS on developing a training practice for the newly re-implemented regional trainings. CSS is bringing back the 1-day regional trainings to bring together organizers and communicators to learn the basics of story-based strategy.
"I would describe story-based strategy as a crash course on fully understanding the power narratives have on our society. I believe it can be one of the most useful tools in any organization's Communications and Digital department arsenals."
“I found myself tracking what was being foreshadowed by the art, asking what the underlying assumptions were surrounding Black Panther as a superhero and looking to really pin down what the central conflict was in the art piece. These tools helped me assess the narrative potency of the work I was creating. “
I’m a Black, queer communications strategist, facilitator, systems thinker, and teacher/coach. I hate it but the term “Renaissance [person]” seems to fit well. Who I am and what you know me to do totally depends on when we met 😅.
Story-based strategy is a way of understanding that the work to fight injustice & advance movements for change also includes changing the narratives that we hear and tell in a way that allows us to be clear about where harm is coming from, who has the solutions and leadership, and re-imagine what might be possible for our lives, communities, and world.
Our annual Top Social Justice Memes considers memes used or created by our social movements to challenge the status quo, and the mass memes shaping politics and pop culture. Memes spread meaning through story via symbols and practices. More than mere internet graphics, memes are transmitted through writing, speech, gestures, images, rituals, and other phenomena. 2017 was an amazing year for stories and memes! This year we found ourselves noticing a pervasive turn from the basic NO of protest, to a values-driven YES to the world we are fighting for.
Make a difference by supporting the movement-building work of Center for Story-based Strategy. #GivingTuesday is your chance to support change-makers from across the country by supporting our inspirational and capacity-building trainings.
It's an annual Center for Story-based Strategy tradition to put forth a list of the Top Social Justice Memes for the year! Nominate your favorite memes of the year, today!This list considers memes used or created by our social movements to challenge the status quo, and the mass memes shaping politics and pop culture. For us, memes spread meaning through story, via symbols and practices and are transmitted through writing, speech, gestures, images, rituals, and phenomena.
From climate change fueled disasters, to attacks on immigrants and neo-fascists in the streets, Trump’s agenda of hate, destruction and greed threatens us all. Fortunately historic numbers of people from all walks of life have joined the resistance. AND, fortunately one of the widely used manuals for teaching organizers about narrative, messaging and strategy has just been released in an updated, expanded 2nd Edition.
On J20 and J21 (Inauguration Day & the Women’s March on Washington) the Center for Story-Based Strategy team joined organizers and members from 4 alliances - Climate Justice Alliance, Right to the City, Indigenous Environmental Network and Grassroots Global Justice - in DC to come together as the It Takes Roots to Grow the Resistance delegation - connecting struggles for land, water, housing, and gender justice to firmly stand up to Trump and his corporate cabinet as the defenders of our communities.
This was quite a year for memes and stories. Our initial list of memes was noticably longer than previous years. Thanks to our trusty criteria, we managed to narrow it down to 10 Top Memes for 2016. It is also important to note that for the last three years Black Lives Matter has been on our Top Memes list. This year we found ourselves noticing that while BLM did not make it directly on the list, its influence and message can be seen throughout it.
Over the course of 5 transformative days (and on the heals of the Orlando Massacre) 50 people gathered to share, learn, connect, and expand the possibilities of what story-based strategy is and how it can truly Change The Story. We opened the training with "Imagine the Angels of Bread" by Martin Espada, and we closed by making our own version of this powerful poem. We share this now to serve as both a source of inspiration & as a reminder of what we know to be possible.
Has anyone else noticed recent commercials using a particular word that rhymes with, say, "chatter"? This may have passed you by if you only watch TV by streaming or get your news strictly online. But it would seem that Corporate America is using calls to social justice as calls to consumerism.
It can feel like the world is falling apart at the seams. Rising sea levels threaten entire communities, and the 1% get richer while the rest of us struggle more and more just to get by. Donald Trump has all but sewn up a Presidential nomination, riding a wave of racism and anti-immigrant hatred. It seems like nothing can stop the world from collapsing around us. But there is another world rising up in the place of the old one. It’s this new world that the Center for Story-Based Strategy (CSS) helps others to imagine every day.