Imagination Builds Power
When we’re moving fast, getting things done and doing what we know makes sense. The pace and reality of movement work often creates high-risk, low-support environments that don’t make room for imagination, experimentation, and innovation. The heightened chaos of mainstream news cycles and accelerated attacks on our communities only makes this problem worse.
To win, we must exercise political imagination and stretch the terms of what is deemed “politically realistic” in the present moment. Imagination builds power because it opens the space for crafting stories that make just futures possible.
Center for Story-based Strategy creates spaces, events and community that cultivate experimentation with play and imagination. This cultivation develops democratic skills and practice that builds frontline leadership and vision, because people can only go somewhere that they have already been in their minds.
Liberation requires vision.
And vision, without imagination, leads us down the path already set for us.
We need a
We believe in regeneration for the world we live in and for our movements, where...
- ...we can thrive and grow as whole people/
- ...our organizations and people are healthy and thriving.
- ...people, communities, planet are healthy and balanced.
Unfortunately, our current economy is rooted in extraction. Our shared natural, human, and cultural resources have been decimated, and we’re in trouble. We are in transition to some kind of different economy, but will it be a just one and will everyone get to benefit?
Building communities and movements that can live out and create a just and regenerative economy is our path forward, where people most-affected by decisions about their world are making them.
We must challenge the logic of extraction that have become so ingrained in our [movement] culture, with regenerative tools, organizations, and relationships we create NOW that reflect the future we are working towards.
An economic transition is inevitable. Justice is not.
Good Messaging isn't Enough
AKA Beyond the master narrative
We believe that our actions, as individuals or as organizations, are as much a part of our storytelling as the words we say. As with our minds and bodies, the two must move together as one.
Whether it’s due to limited capacity or a habitual reliance on external expertise, our movements often turn to public relations consultants, deciding strategy and action in one place and words and messaging in another. We’ve seen all kinds of organizations separating organizing and communications in isolated silos. Relying on this approach places an unreasonable burden on magic words to fill gaps in strategy – or worse, mistaking tactics for strategy. “Good messaging” does not exist in a vacuum apart from the actions we take in the world.
We work with partners to build shared analysis and narratives that support and inspire strategic organizing and communication. By developing strategy rooted in narrative analysis, we build the capacity, instincts, and conditions that lead to effective messaging. Our work helps groups abandon the belief that outside experts hold the answers.
When we combine organizing and communications, we can let go of the need for experts to conjure magic words for a given situation, and instead learn to produce more nimble, effective, and diverse messages and narratives.
There are no magic words.
Our Movement is an Ecosystem
We have seen that it takes an ecosystem of groups and efforts, not just one organization, to change the story and win just outcomes for our communities. We use an ecological systems approach in all of our work.
The current extractive system — with its competition and scarcity mindset — restrains our power and growth. We and our work are cut up into pieces and encouraged/incentivized to find and fight over the one “right way” forward.
Shared narratives — not one “right” way — can be the web that holds us together and helps us grow. We wield story as a tool for uniting, inspiring, and empowering.
We convene and facilitate spaces, where participants across educational and organizational experience can tap their own wisdom and lived experience to shape powerful and leaderful movement narratives.
Within the resilience of an ecosystem lies the strength to build a more just world.
We believe in everyone’s innate and collective capacity to understand our own selves and our communities’ needs and stories. Collective liberation is only possible rooted in our deepest wisdom and truth.
It is often easier to go with the status quo, where voices of power and privilege get heard above those without. When we don’t understand the power dynamics at play, our strategy can get distorted by distance from the issue or our own self-interest. We can perpetuate inequity even as we are working towards equity and justice.
Our movements are stronger when issue expertise arises from direct experience of the injustice at hand. Legitimate leadership and insight is found under the police baton, before the bulldozer, holding the eviction notice, and in the welfare line. A healthy movement culture must honor, cultivate and follow that expertise. And we must consciously seek out the skills to make this happen, in the face of a larger culture that does its best to silence that expertise.
We build tools and hold spaces that facilitate grassroots leadership from directly-impacted and marginalized communities. By focusing on facilitation and capacity development, we can contribute resources and co-create story-based strategy with those most-impacted by an issue.
Nothing about us without us.
The extractive economy stifles political imagination and represses visions for change, obstructing our efforts to build a just future.
Our focus of change is on power-building groups that prioritize frontline communities at the intersection of pollution, poverty, and racism.
Read our complete Theory of Change:
In all of our efforts to collaborate for change, we value relationships, and approach our work with respect for all people and all life on Earth.
We strive in both our perspectives and practices, to challenge racism, sexism, homophobia, and oppression in all its forms.
We commit to embracing the following principles: