Through our work at Mapping Our Voices for Equality, we've seen firsthand how stories can influence policy decisions when it comes to the social determinants of health. Nationally, the use of story has been effective in swaying decision-makers on everything from immigration policy, view the success of the DREAM Act, to marriage equality.
One thing that's cool about the stories we see produced in our workshops is that they can be used in multiple ways, with multiple audiences. A few years ago, Jen Finkle-Weaver made this awesome piece about her family.
At the time, Jen wasn't up for putting it online. She felt it was a personal piece. We can certainly relate. But was the debate about marriage equality became hot in Washington State, and with Referendum 74 on the ballot, Jen changed her mind. Now she's up for taking the same story, but using it in a more public context to sway voters and electeds on the issue of marriage equality.
I remember the first time a woman in one of our workshops made a story, took the CD home, deleted all other files, and never showed it to a single soul outside of the workshop. The story was painfully personal--it was an opportunity to heal. For others, part of the healing is the process of making that story public and witnessing it turn into something new.
Thanks Jen for sharing this piece with us, and allowing us a glimpse into what makes a family a family.
How can stories help get out the vote? To get your wheels spinning, we want to share a few stories created before the 2004 elections as part of the Better Questions, Better Decisions Voter Education Initiative, now the Right Question Voter Engagement Strategy.
One story we've found effective time after time as a way to get folks talking about the value of voting is Laura's story, Our Babies' Health. Laura asks some tough questions about who has access to medical care and insurance, and who makes the decisions that impact our families.
In light of the current debate over immigraiton policy, Conchita's story, Waiting and Waiting and Waiting is a compelling one. In her story, Conchita describes her family's battle to obtain residency. She urges all immigrants, regardless of their citizenship status, to become civicly involved. This story is an excellent one to show to foster discussion other forms of civic engagement available to people who can not vote.
Oftentimes voter education focuses on the basics like registering to vote. Both these stories, and others like theirs, can be valuable tools for community organizers to help people realize the value of voting. Without knowing why it's important, it won't matter where the polls are located.
To learn more about The Right Question Civic and Voter Engagement Strategy, register online or read an article about the project in Telling Stories to Change the World.
Join us for three days of intensive digital storytelling in our old stomping grounds! Jen will be leading an open workshop at El Rio Learning Center from Oct 26-28. The computer lab is PC-based; we will be digging up the stories that most need telling, gathering images to fit and learning to edit (and troubleshoot) on MS MovieMaker. Here's the flyer- Drop us an email for more info or to sign up. firstname.lastname@example.org
This June, we'll be holding our first open online workshop over a series of Tuesday mornings. It's going to be a great opportunity for folks who haven't been able to commit to a three day workshop or aren't close to Creative Narrations field staff. Through webinars, one on one meetings, and lots of individual work, we'll be checking out how digital stories can be used for civic action, community organizing, and online advocacy. At the end of this workshop, each participant will have completed his his/her own two-minute personal narrative weaving together voice, images, music, and video.
Want more information or to register? Check out our webinars page!