Our Methods

StoryWork is a set of story and social change tools selected, customised and developed by Sparking Change. The tools are facilitated, participatory activities that help amplify frontline community expertise on social justice issues. Together, they offer new ways for activists, change makers, social justice instigators, movers and shakers and advocates to develop cohesive story-based strategies that bring the world of our imaginations closer to reality. These tools include:

Deep Democracy (The Lewis Method)

Deep Democracy is a facilitated process that enables all voices, states of awareness, and frameworks of reality to be brought forth. Deep Democracy also works on the basis that all the information carried within these voices, levels of awareness, and frameworks is  needed to understand the complete process of a system. Deep Democracy is an attitude that focuses on the awareness of voices that are both central and marginal.

Biomythography (coined by Audre Lourde)

We use Biomythography to situate our personal stories and (bio) and weave them together with the stories we use to understand the world – (our myths) along with our history, to understand and re-create our stories into a form that better reflect our political context and context. It is a style of story composition that represents all the ways in which we perceive the world.

Pasifika Talanoa & Fanongo

… is a story data gathering tool of personal experiences. Participants share their personal and community stories and then collaboratively participate in ‘sense-making’. Successful Talanoa requires Fanongo or deep listening and feeling / sensing, by the story-catcher / researcher.

Participatory Narrative Inquiry

… is an approach in which groups of people participate in gathering and working with raw stories of personal experiences in order to make sense of complex situations for better decision making.

Story Mapping

… uncovers, recovers, tells and retells the stories of community. The purpose of story mapping is to connect individual stories to the larger story of the community’s assets and challenges in order to develop a road map for future action and advocacy. Story mapping can include collecting stories while ‘walking and talking’ or creating maps to use as later prompts for storytelling. The latter can be undertaken as a collaborative process, with community maps unearthing collective stories or surfacing themes/trend within community patterns and priorities.

Principals of Accountability

The four basic principals of accountability (accountability is not our goal; collaboration is our goal, accountability is the pathway we walk):

  • Transparency means being clear about one’s politics, organisational structure, goals, desires and weaknesses. The point here is to be as open as possible about your perspectives and motivations.
  • Participation is about actively and equitably engaging with folks about the decisions that affect them.
  • Reflection and deliberation means that we actively open up conversation to re-evaluate where we’re headed. It happens after participation, but once it’s begun, it is a continuous thread that is woven throughout the experience
  • Response is the ability to make amendments and adjustments to issues by reflection and deliberation
Narrative Power Analysis

Narrative Power Analysis is a systematic methodology for examining the stories that abet the powers that be in order to better challenge them. A narrative analysis of power is a recognition that humans use stories to understand the world and our place in it. Stories are embedded with power, the power to explain and justify the status quo as well as the power to make change imaginable and urgent.

Story Harvesting

Collective Story Harvesting is a storytelling process to unveil multiple aspects, facets, and insights hidden deeply in the experiences of individuals, communities, teams or organisations. The process is about to sharpen the listening and to concentrate to certain pre-agreed details and topics in the story when it is told.

When to use Collective Story Harvesting
  • To identify multiple insights and many aspects.
  • To take learning to a deeper level.
  • Applied learning.
  • Full system team building/strategy session.
  • Many stories/collective learning.
  • Collective meta-learning.
  • Creating a new field of work or practice.
  • Taking stock at regular intervals during a project’s life.

Using combinations of these tools Sparking Change:

  • Builds the skills and confidence of individuals and groups
  • Enhances community decision making and problem solving processes
  • Creates a common vision for the future
  • Brings research and evaluation into community strengthening programs and processes
  • Implements practical strategies for creating change
  • Promotes inclusion and social justice.


For more on StoryWork tools, principals, theories and tactics check out our New Word Order blog

Wendybird is made up of lots of different people, all with different thoughts, feelings, experiences and identities, so this workshop was a unique opportunity for our participants to explore their individual experiences, and reframe these as stories that they can share, and through this sharing, connect and engage with others who unknowingly shared similar thoughts, feelings and experiences.

This space supported those who often blend into the background, to be center, and to have their stories heard and acknowledged by others as valid, meaningful and important. Despite the vulnerable nature of sharing personal stories, Lana created a safe and supportive space for everyone to step into this unknown place, and for their vulnerability to be met with respect, compassion, open hearts and listening ears.

Our workshop had participants who were not only lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans, but also those who were Aboriginal, homeless, had physical disabilities, had intellectual disabilities, refugee who spoke English as a second language, and years across the lifespan – yet we all found connection with each other through our stories.

This workshop reminded us all that despite our differences, everyone has a heartfelt and deep story, and through learning skills and techniques for shaping, everyone is capable of changing the world with their story – and I am excited to see what changes will start to happen around us!

Sally Morris

Founder, Wendybird

Essential learning for anyone engaged in social change


Tom Tanhchareun

Victoria Health

“Lana delivered this workshop in an interactive and interesting manner. I felt engaged and trusted her as an expert and leader in this area.”


Dee Darwiche

Benevolence Australia