The Power of Stories and Narrative to Foster System Change

Stories can make us connect in unsuspected ways. A piece by the Stanford Social Innovation Review makes the case for the power of stories to make, prop up, and bring down systems.

"We need to develop new processes of collective storytelling across sectors to navigate turbulent times and foster systems change," states the article that explores the role of story in changing a system.

A story can be a tool for building community through empathy, acknowledges the piece. "Systems change frequently involves collaboration across difference, bringing together actors with very different positions to re-envision the goals of a system and to change it," adds author Ella Saltmarshe discussing the connection between stories and how people can think systemically about public solutions.

The article discusses three qualities of story and narrative that all sectors can use to change systems.

In one of them, the story as web, Saltmarshe writes we can use story to reauthor the web of narratives we live in and use it to,

  • Change the personal narratives we have about our lives.
  • Change the cultural narratives that frame the issues we advocate for.
  • Change the mythic narratives that influence our worldview.

Read the full piece here.

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