Deepening The Interface
Do we always serve communities with integrity? Sometimes we engage mechanically or routinely, rather the engaging deeply and really understanding how communities (in all their diversity) want to be supported, what priorities they have, what solutions they have, and how we can work together. Sparking Change works at the interface of organisations and the communities they aim to serve, offering StoryWork tools to deepen our mutual understanding and respect.
We work with organisations to strengthen their relationship with the communities they work with. We support organisations in using story work processes to actualise positive change at a local or community level, alongside or led by, the people who live there.
We work with communities to strengthen collaboration between groups, organisations, government and citizens, highlighting the importance of their lived experiences and community led collective action. Community engagement is not simply about sharing information, or listening to opinions via a survey or focus group, it is about working in partnership with communities to engage them in joint decision making alongside the organisations that serve them. Inevitably this leads to empowerment which is not something that can be given to a community but something that can emerge when conditions are conducive to its emergence. Sparking Change uses it’s story work toolbox to support communities and the organisations that support them to work together toward multiple outcomes including:
- Expanding, diverse, inclusive community participation
- Expanding leadership base
- Strengthening individual skills
- Encouraging a shared understanding and vision
- Strategic community agenda
- Facilitating consistent, tangible progress toward goals
- Creating effective community organisations and institutions
- Promoting resource utilisation by the community
I attended Lana Woolf’s Storytelling for Community Advocacy workshop, learning about strategic storytelling, participatory leadership and how to tell our personal stories in a way that can be heard and create change. Lana’s facilitation skills are excellent; she ensured everyone felt accepted and safe. The workshop required thinking and writing about our own lives, so this was particularly important. The structure she provided meant I was able to do a substantial amount of work in developing my storytelling skills.
I am a better advocate since doing this workshop, and after the workshop was able to join up with another advocate to lobby a social services organisation. We succeeded in convincing them to support a much needed community group for people affected by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. I have also been able to develop my relationship with established advocacy organisations.
A particularly useful part of the workshop was about how the storyteller can protect themselves emotionally, for example we worked through ways to support ourselves when people ask inappropriate questions in relation to our stories. It was a very practical workshop but also contained a lot of wisdom about both the experience of advocating for change and what works to influence the audience so that they will be moved to take action.Nell Butler
“empowerment is not something that can be given to a community but something that can emerge”