Boehm Media Fellowship at Opportunity Collaboration

I'm excited to have been named a Boehm Media Fellow at Opportunity Collaboration. More information about it is at this link.

StoryForward Podcast #49: Innovations in Storytelling and Community-Building

To anyone interested in innovations in storytelling / digital art / audience engagement / media, this is a really great listen (click on the heading below): 


I was privileged to be at the Forward Slash Story retreat -- at the invitation of Lance Weiler and Christy Dena-- which quite honestly is one of the best professional retreats I've ever attended. What made it even better was one, the fact that Steve Peters had the foresight to capture our weekend's discussions (among an amazing set of storytellers who are listed at the site) for public discussion. And two, there was an actual shared tangible outcome from the retreat. Listen through to the end to hear about our shared commitment to launch a festival to connect wider audiences to these new, exciting, emergent forms. Enjoy...

The "Who Is Dayani Cristal?" Website is Live

The new Who Is Dayani Cristal? website is now launched!

It's a pleasure to have worked with our social impact team --  Marc Silver, Sebastian Barrera, Tim Harbour -- our NGO partners, and the community on this.

The website aims to be a resource for our NGO partners and communities that resonates with them and is actionable in their own work, individually and collectively. Through layered storytelling from migrants, people in sending communities, and professionals working to change the system, we hope to engage audiences in a deeper understanding of the systemic issues migrants face and of the “pull/push” factors that make migration the only viable economic choice for many. The site provides a way to donate to our partner organizations, and the means for deeper engagement, advocacy, and education on the issues.

Explore it, take action, and please share it: .

The Narrative Design Canvas

A few years ago, I took a master class in Toronto with Alex Osterwalder, the visionary author of Business Model Generation and creator of the the Business Model Canvas, to learn how to apply his canvas to organizational and project design. After the class, I spoke with Alex and with his permission, reimagined the canvas into one with fields particular to the use of social impact media for a campaign, project, or organizational program.

The result was the project model canvas for narrative design for social impact below. The canvas is a strategic planning tool that allows you to lay out on one page the internal considerations for the design of your narrative-based project for social impact.

True to Alex's spirit, my version of his canvas has been freely available to anyone who requested it, but under the demands of my task list, I had never gotten around to releasing it for direct download. Rectifying that oversight now, here it is below and also available at SlideShare.

You're free to Share and Remix the Canvas. This canvas and Alex's original are licensed as creative commons, so enjoy them for free and for whatever you like. For this canvas, just reference and after each use. For Alex's, reference only. And share your work for free for others under a similar license.

Please let me know how it works for you.

Regarding Humanity Salon: "Storytelling... Who's Doing It Well?"

Regarding Humanity Salon, streamed live on September 12, 2013:

Lina Srivastava moderates a discussion with Ingrid Kopp, Mallika Dutt, and Michael Premo on storytelling in human rights and development work.

40 Years Later: Storytelling, Memory, and Justice

This piece was originally posted in the Huffington Post World.

September 11, 2013 marks the 40th anniversary of the U.S.-backed coup in Chile that transformed Latin America’s oldest democracy into its most brutal dictatorship.  Among the thousands of atrocities committed by the military forces led by the usurper Augusto Pinochet was the abduction and murder of Charles Horman, a young American journalist living in Chile who learned about the U.S. role in the coup.

In 1982, the story of Charles Horman’s disappearance and the exhaustive efforts by his wife Joyce and his father Ed to find him, was immortalized in the Oscar-winning film, Missing. There is a moment in the film in which the US Ambassador to Chile says to Ed Horman, “Let's level with each other, sir. If you hadn't been personally involved in this unfortunate incident, you'd be sitting at home complacent and more or less oblivious to all of this.”

Knowing their stories, seeing the deep love for Charlie that drives them and binds them together as allies in seeking justice makes us, the film’s audience, personally involved. It is their journey that gives the film its moral force, placing it among a collective body of art that jolts us out of complacency in the face of atrocity.

Storytelling is crucial to the fight for justice in every realm, in no way more so than in knocking those of us outside a conflict out of our oblivion and lack of empathy. Dehumanization of the “other”—as is well documented—is a factor in setting the stage for atrocities to occur. It is harder to kill or displace others it they are seen as human.

Stories are the connective tissue that binds us all together as humans and allows us to know the “other:” to be able to see each other as we see ourselves. Through storytelling, we discover who we are, and declare ourselves as beings with individual desires, thoughts, feelings, and circumstances. It allows us to be awake to new ways of creating our lives, and collectively our societies. Stories let us conquer our fears, reconcile our pasts, and reframe the conversation. And they allow us to name the thing that happened: the tragedy, the atrocity, or the hurt.

As a tool of social justice, storytelling is of course not without its risks. There are dangers of protecting identity, mapped out and dealt with by organizations such as WITNESS or Videre. There are the risks of propaganda and manipulation. And in today’s world of interconnectedness and rapid-fire spread of content, there is the danger of inaccuracy, lack of verification, or artistic license that misleads as much as it may inspire.

But to tell or listen to a story creates a bond of recognition between teller and listener: “I too have seen this. I too have suffered. I know you had a name, a way of dressing, a favorite food, a naughty secret, or a man or woman you loved and held. As do I. “ When we can empathize, we can act more justly to shape the policies that affect individual lives. Facts, statistics, and generalizations are not enough, and often obscure the real human cost of our policies and decisions.

And so storytelling becomes an essential element in mobilizing public opinion and collective action both during and after a crime against humanity, and in the discourse on accountability in the aftermath of atrocity. These instruments of culture are an invitation to fight repression and preserve a link to the past and a hope for the future. One can see these tools at use in the South African truth and reconciliation commissions. At the monuments at Gesozi, Plaza Mayor, or Dachau, and so many like them that ask us to say “never again.” In documentaries like The Act of Killing, The Devil Came on Horseback, or Nanking. And in the work of organizations like the Shoah Foundation, Three Generations, or the Aegis Trust.

These storytellers write a love letter to humanity with every stroke of the pen, keyboard, or paintbrush. With today’s technological interconnectedness, we are able to create an environment of support for truthful storytelling and cultural interventions in society and memory, crucial to an informed populace that can fight repression and activate for justice. In the face of history repeating over and over again, in Srebrenica, Rwanda, Egypt, and at this very moment in Syria, we must.

For inspiration, we return to the story of Joyce and Charles. Joyce has fought since the day of the coup 40 years ago, founding the Charles Horman Truth Foundation in honor of Charlie and all the victims.  Through the project, she tells the story of her family, her journey, and everything she has lost and gained in the time—a story that reflects the experience of families whose lives are altered irrevocably due to violent events beyond their control, and one that is all too common in the 20th and 21st centuries.

On September 9th, the CHTF will commemorate the 40th anniversary of the coup by mounting a tribute to universal jurisdiction, to the work of human rights defenders such as Baltasar Garzón, Juan Guzman, and Peter Weiss, among others. It will also be a monument to the triumph of memory, and the role of the story, in moving toward justice, reconciliation, and healing for the past four decades, as well as a tribute to the international network of non-governmental actors, institutional actors, activists, artists, and survivors, who have all been bound together by a common cause, and a common narrative thread. It is a testament to their humanity, and to their love of it.