Posts Tagged Story
Many people feel that losing their home is all their fault – they feel they have done something wrong and they deserve to be punished. Many others feel the same way – they think it’s only a certain kind of person who will lose their home.
The result is that many are frozen by shame and fear. They are immobilized.
Changing this story is a key part of our work.
Here is a YouTube Video from Rocky Mountain PBS featuring Sarah Noel from Colorado Foreclosure Hotline – that addresses this issue of “Story” and immobilization.
Yes some of us have been unwise. But we have been part of a massive campaign to persuade us to extend ourselves. Also many are just an illness away from foreclosure. Many are losing their jobs through no fault of their own.
It helps no one to stigmatize those that lose their home. Every home lost, is a wound in the fabric of the larger community. Every lost family bleeds out the blood of a city and a state.
There is legislation on the books both old, supporting our troops on active service, and new helping people get better terms on their mortgage.
But the bureaucracy at the service providers and at the banks seems to be making it very hard for people who could access this help to get it. The help is there but they on their own can’t connect with the lenders.
So what to do?
Well telling these stories on your local public TV or radio station is going to make this issue important and has a chance of making it easier to get the help that is now law.
Here is Vegas PBS’s story of a couple in Nevada that are typical of those that have had this help denied through the bureaucratic barriers.
If we want change – tell the story. Here is an excellent article by Peter Bregman (Writing for the Harvard Business Review) That reminds us of the power of story to change the world – especially to change entrenched behavior. Snip:
- Do dramatic story-worthy things that represent the culture we want to create. Then let other people tell stories about it.
- Find other people who do story-worthy things that represent the culture we want to create. Then tell stories about them.
For example, if you want to create a faster moving, less perfectionist culture, instead of berating someone for sending an email without proper capitalization, send out a memo with typos in it.
Or if you want managers and employees to communicate more effectively, stop checking your computer in the middle of a conversation every time the new message sound beeps. Instead, put your computer to sleep when they walk in your office.
Or if you’re trying to create a more employee-focused culture, instead of making the bride work on her wedding day, give her the week off.
We live by stories. We tell them, repeat them, listen to them carefully, and act in accordance with them.
We can change our stories and be changed by them.
Events in Iran are centre stage right now. The use of social media is enabling the people to connect with each other and to stand up together in very dangerous circumstances. They know that their only hope is to make it clear to the rulers and to the world that they will not be cowed. With traditional media largely blocked, we are also seeing the other side of this revolution. Millions of non Iranians are actively working to keep the Iranian voice in the public domain. They are not sitting back, helpless, but are also engaged.
The Iranian story has put for me the essence of what “Engagement” will be for our future. Here in America, Public Radio and TV are also working to give voice and direct help and support to the millions of Americans who are directly affected by the Mortgage and Now Financial Crisis.
Big claim to make! So what is it that we are doing that is different and why do I think this may be a turning point not only in how media works but also in how America works?
Have a look at this video and then see if you see what I see.
Here we see a citizen who is taking back his power with others in his community. His story is also a call to action. When you watch it, your reaction is not simply, “That’s nice,” but “This could happen to me. I could do what they are doing.” This is a very liberating and empowering perspective that is the opposite of how most news stories are presented.
You can see that this will be part of a continuing meta story of people taking back their power. The web also enables WDET to have an infinite amount of space to cover this story. For on the dial, time is short and fleeting. The story can only last a few minutes–two maybe at the most–and then is lost forever. With social media, WDET has unlimited space and the story never dies. Google can always find it and others can build on it. This kind of story becomes a “seed” that can grow not only into a tree but a forest.
- The narrator is not a journalist–who is separate and who stands above the situation–the journalist has subsumed herself and has become a facilitator to enable a citizen to get his voice out to the larger public
- The narrator, protagonist, is a member of the public who is directly affected by his situation
- He is showing us what is going on with his community. What is happening there is changing our view of the problem–many of us think that this problem is confined to other people besides the middle class. His authority is his authenticity. We don’t need editors and fact checkers to “know” that he is showing us his truth.
- He can pull this off because he is using his authentic human voice–all humans have an acute ability to detect insincerity. The traditional journalism voice is not “Human” it is institutional and disengaged. It is hard to know if a journalist is telling the truth because he stands outside the story.
- With an authentic voice, he can connect to the human heart, not just to the brain. It is in the human heart that Engagement resides. Engagement is not found in the brain or the intellect
- The power of this connection is amplified by the sponsor of this story, WDET, a public station that has both its own Trust and also a big megaphone–once again the journalist/editor now is acting as a facilitator
- Finally what makes this story compellingly engaging is that it leads to action that is in the control and capability of any of us. We too can take action to help people in our community in the same way that this community is acting.
Seventy-six stations in 32 of the worst hit, foreclosure, markets in the US are working together to give you your voice and to give you the power to take action.
In my next post I will talk more about the action aspect. For unless there is help, we can do little. There is help and your radio and your TV station are also working to make it easier to find and stronger in itself.