13,684 Narrative Change, The Drum Beat 765, October 17- 2018

The Drum BeatNarrative Change – The Drum Beat 765
October 17, 2018
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In this issue:


People are storytellers. Stories connect people. Hearing, discussing, and learning from stories can drive change. Nationally and globally, stories have been central elements in a wide range of social change processes – gender, gay rights, people with disabilities, indigenous peoples, the environment, health inequities, and so much more. In our local communities, we can all tell stories about how people recounting their stories – and the way in which those stories are conveyed (framed) – have prompted and provided sustenance for important local change to take place. Together, collections of stories form broader narratives that underpin culture and help us make sense of the world and our place in it. There is an increasing strategic interest in the role of narratives – and what has come to be called ‘narrative change’ among a number of philanthropies and non-profits focused on human rights and social justice. This issue of the Drum Beat highlights some of their strategic th! inking and provides insights into some of the narrative-based action they are supporting.
From The Communication Initiative Network – where communication and media are central to social and economic development.
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  • 1. Narrative Change and the Open Society Public Health Program
    by Brett Davidson
    The phrase ‘narrative change’ has in recent years peppered the conversations at, and shaped the work of, the Open Society Public Health Program (PHP). This paper defines the concepts ‘narrative’ and ‘narrative change’ and explains why they are important. Open Society Foundations (OSF)’s Brett Davidson: examines narrative change and its link to attitudes and values; looks at the role of narrative in policy change processes and at the level of culture; outlines some of the narrative change methods being used within the PHP; and discusses several questions related to risks and ethics. [Jul 2018]
  • 2. Toward New Gravity: Charting a Course for the Narrative Initiative
    by Nima Shirazi, Jee Kim, and Liz Hynes
    Envisioned as something critical to effecting change in systems, policies, and practices, narrative change is an approach grounded in the realm of language, meaning-making, and symbols. In October 2016, the Ford Foundation and Atlantic Philanthropies announced the creation of the Narrative Initiative, a capacity-building and network space for leaders and organisations dedicated to creating a world where equity and justice are common sense. In early February 2017, the newly launched team embarked on a listening tour of over 100 people from a range of disciplines and communities who are working on issues of social justice and narrative change. Interview participants identified challenges, lessons, best practices, and needs, including the recurring desire for sharper definitions of terms related to story and narrative. This report shares some of the conversations. [May 2017]
  • 3. Storytelling and Evidence-Based Policy: Lessons from the Grey Literature
    by Brett Davidson
    This article on the role of storytelling in political advocacy highlights practical advice about storytelling that emerges from the grey literature and presents 4 case studies, including that of Health Action International (HAI) Africa’s efforts to stop stockouts through a Pill Check Week. This case is an example of the creation of an initiative making use of text messaging and online mapping tools that also made effective use of visual storytelling to establish the credibility of evidence that policymakers had previously been able to dismiss as inadequate. Davidson concludes by suggesting that, for a scientist or social researcher interested in exploring storytelling as a communication tool, many of the resources and toolkits mentioned in this paper offer a good place to start. [Sep 2017]
  • See also:
    * The role of narrative change in influencing policy

  • 4. Blueprint for Belonging (B4B)
    Initiated in 2015 by the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society at the University of California (UC) Berkeley, this collaborative network of partners is working to achieve transformative change in California, United States (US), through the development of a strategic narrative that underpins collective work across movements, issues, and policies. In December 2017, B4B fielded a statewide public opinion poll to better understand the interaction of Californians’ intergroup and identity perceptions with their attitudes towards several policy goals, social values, and responses to messages based on a strategic narrative. The next major phase of the B4B is focusing on analysing and building the movement’s infrastructure to shift meta-narrative, and developing and piloting the tools to do so.
  • 5. Fighting Anti-Roma Hate, One Story at a Time
    by Mariana Berbec-Rostas
    From this blog: “…Roma who live in Lviv [Ukraine] say that prejudice and hate are daily features of their lives….Roma advocates, human rights groups, and open-minded city officials are working together to provide the public with ‘alternative narratives’ intended to show a more accurate depiction of who the Roma people in Ukraine really are….’We are trying to lift the curtain between Ukrainians and Roma,’ explained Victor Chovka, an activist from an NGO [non-governmental organisation] called Pativ. Two events have been held to date – one in a university library, the other at a local café. Alya Yurchenko, a Roma youth activist who works with the NGO Ternipe, told her story at one gathering….Lviv is well suited for an intervention like this. It’s small enough that people feel a sense of community. Local government is not antagonistic towards Roma people. The city sends, for example, social workers to visit poor Roma communities. The purpose of the narrative change ! activities is to build on this sense of community…” [May 2018]
  • 6. Race-Class Narrative National Dial Survey Report
    This survey report emerged from a multi-phase project to build an effective new narrative on race, class, and democracy in the US. Conducted by Ian Haney López, Anat Shenker-Osorio, and the public policy organisation Demos, this project has been exploring the question of how to engage simultaneously around race and class in ways that strengthen social solidarity, reduce division and scapegoating, and create a viable foundation for progressive policy victories. The collaborators have crafted, empirically validated, and field-tested a range of narratives and compared these to existing frames. One of the primary goals of this research was to develop ways for countering messaging appeals grounded in divide-and-conquer tactics. Qualitative research underscored the challenge of doing so, but, there are several takeaways from this research that might help. [May 2018]
  • 7. How a New Board Game Exposes Authoritarianism’s Folly
    by Sharan Srinivas
    From this blog: “…[A]dvocates who promote narrative change, are interested in rallying the public to their cause more through appeals to the heart than the head….Fine Acts, a globally oriented nonprofit organization based in Sofia, Bulgaria…brought together 24 artists, techies, graphic designers, and others for Fine Acts Labs – a two-day competition to generate new, concrete ideas to move the human rights agenda forward….The winning team,…from Poland, proposed the development of a board game where the object of the game was to ‘put yourself in the shoes of a dictator and suppress, take over, and shut down’ as many civil society organizations as possible….Part of the promise of Fine Acts and other groups like them is that finding a new way to raise public awareness of oppression can be very difficult in closing societies, which usually lack a robust free press….Fine Acts seeks to impact the individual, causing him or her to rethink (or think about for the f! irst time) his or her perceptions and political decision making….Going forward, narrative change projects like Fine Acts Labs face a fundamental challenge: finding ways to translate their engaging projects into meaningful policy change and measurable shifts in the political culture…” [Jul 2018]
  • See also:
    Pop Culture Collaborative

  • 8. Early Means Early: Mapping the Gaps between Expert, Stakeholder, and Public Understandings of Early Childhood Development in South Africa
    by Eric Lindland
    As part of an effort to overcome damage done to children and families by the policies and programmes of Apartheid, the South African government has deemed early childhood development (ECD) a “public good” that benefits society, and it has put in place systems to support it. In that context, in 2014, the FrameWorks Institute, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the University of Witwatersrand, and Stellenbosch University engaged in a research partnership to develop strategic communications that are designed to build demand for a stronger national infrastructure in support of programmes and services that promote ECD. This work produced a strategic report that compares views of ECD between experts in the field, members of the public, and stakeholders in policy and programme implementation in South Africa. It explores the gaps and overlaps in thinking between these groups, explains the implications for strategic communications about ECD in South Africa, and ma! kes recommendations to overcome communications challenges. [Sep 2016]
  • 9. Representations of Early Childhood and Urban Violence in Brazilian Media
    by Diogo Lyra with Moira O’Neil and Michael Baran
    This report examines the explicit and implicit messages embedded in the media’s presentation of issues related to both ECD and urban violence in Brazilian newspapers. The media analysis presented here was conducted by the FrameWorks Institute for the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, with funding from the Fundação Maria Cecilia Souto Vidigal and the Bernard van Leer Foundation. The analysis involves examining the media frames – the patterned use of cues that structure specific definitions, causal interpretations, and solutions to social problems – that are part of Brazilian public discourse on ECD and violence issues. The idea is that identifying patterns in media coverage is a tool for understanding why gaps exist between public and expert accounts, as well as how the introduction of new narratives about ECD and violence can bridge these gaps. [May 2014]
  • 10. Born Julia and Julius
    This OSF video tells the story of an activist in Uganda who describes what it was like to grow up as an intersex person in that country, including the complexity and secrecy that was involved in hiding the child’s identity. This activist has been working to end the stigma and harassment the intersex community faces, which has involved sharing the experience in front of a live audience on national TV. Julius now works to educate and comfort people about intersex issues across 50 districts in Uganda in order to fight stigma and to ensure all intersex people have the chance to live safe and happy lives. [Feb 2017]

  • 11. Framing Equality Toolkit
    by Valeria Santostefano, Elena Blackmore, and Bec Sanderson
    From ILGA-Europe – the European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) – and the Public Interest Research Centre (PIRC), this is a short guide to strategic communications, based on research and building on the experience of activists and communicators from around the globe. That we can deny rights to people based on their country of origin, sexuality, or gender identity is only possible due to a set of beliefs, or stories, about one group being more deserving than another. By understanding framing – how these stories interact with our thinking – campaigners and activists can craft their communications to create sustainable social change. This toolkit is about helping the activist or communicator do that. [2017]
  • 12. Media Guide: Covering the Intersex Community
    The youth advocacy organisation interACT believes that improving communication is a crucial part of improving care for children born with intersex traits. Designed for members of the media looking to cover an intersex topic or issue, this media guide is reflects the conviction that “Increasing visibility and understanding about issues facing the intersex community, particularly the experience of intersex youth, is essential to support intersex advocacy and bring about desired change.” [Jan 2017]
  • 13. Framing Nature Toolkit: A Guide to How Words Can Help Wildlife
    by Ralph Underhill
    According to this guide from the PIRC, the language – and images – we use matters. “Our words and actions are key tools in conservation but we are not currently using them to their full potential. This is where framing comes in…” To that end, this practical toolkit includes exercises and examples to enable the reader to put framing into practice. [Mar 2018]

ENQUIRY: Your priorities, opportunities and challenges!
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Click here to lend your voice.
This issue of The Drum Beat was written by Kier Olsen DeVries.
The Drum Beat is the email and web network of The Communication Initiative Partnership.

Full list of the CI Partners:
ANDIBBC Media ActionBernard van Leer FoundationBreakthroughCiturna TVFundación ImaginarioFundación Nuevo Periodismo Iberoamericano (FNPI)Heartlines,Johns Hopkins Center for Communication ProgramsMaternal and Child Survival Program (MCSP)MISAOpen Society FoundationsOxfam NovibPAHOThe Panos InstitutePuntos de EncuentroSAfAIDSSesame WorkshopSoul CitySTEPS InternationalUNAIDSUNICEFUniversidad de los AndesWorld Health Organization (WHO)W.K. Kellogg Foundation

The Drum Beat seeks to cover the full range of communication for development activities. Inclusion of an item does not imply endorsement or support by The Partners.

Chair of the Partners Group: Garth Japhet, Founder, Soul City garth@heartlines.org.za

Executive Director: Warren Feek wfeek@comminit.com

The Editor of The Drum Beat is Kier Olsen DeVries.
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