Storytelling, Imagination & Activism: An interview with CSS Co-Director Shana McDavis-Conway

Check out this wide-ranging interview of our Co-Director Shana McDavis-Conway, by Rob Hopkins, on our work at Center for Story-based Strategy and what it looks like to organize towards — and tell stories of — transformative vision and liberation.

Why do you think that story and the cultivation of strong narratives are so vital to bringing about change?

“So many reasons! Part of it is that that our communities already have a lot of skills in terms of lobbying skills. We have such a long history of organising, community organising in the US, so it’s not that other things aren’t important, but we really found that the missing piece was around storytelling. When you try to examine why there were suddenly dramatic cultural shifts, because national work was really effective, story was often that missing piece that we weren’t really talking about. We were talking about tactical work that communities were doing.

When you examine our current political system and how certain ideas, continuing ideas about poverty, and ideas about who has power, who’s marginalised, particularly around race and class in the US, I think those ideas, they’re really held up not just by the people in power, but by these underlying stories and narratives that say this is the only way that is possible. These people are smarter or more talented. That’s really why they should be running things.

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.

Read the full interview here, or listen to the audio below!