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Some pockets of local government, journalism and urban planning/engineering are running parallel tracks of transformation, I’ve been fascinated to observe recently.

In a conversation last week, Martin Bell, CEO of the Western Canada consultancy Urban Systems, described an evolution in the role of engineers and urban planners that members of his company are exploring.

There is a new interest and intention around hosting dialogue with clients as a critical element in the design process — in contrast to the engineers simply acting as the experts prescribing solutions.

Martin noted there is still much to be learned on this front as few in the field of engineering and urban planning have received training to be facilitators.

Some parts of the journalism sector are going through the same evolution. Journalism That Matters co-founder Peggy Holman has been writing about the possibilities for journalists to be convenors of conversations for some time.

The belief is that hosting conversations is a more promising pathway to co-creating widespread change than the typical interview-and-create-a-news-artefact process.

Similar to engineers, there also seems to be a lot of room for journalists, myself included, to learn skills in facilitating both on-line and in-person conversations.

I’ve also been intrigued to hear about a growing interest from local governments to facilitate and engage authentic community conversations. Shrinking government funding and the apparently growing number of citizen-led initiatives appear to be key igniters of this interest.

As a journalist with Axiom News, what gets me especially excited is the possibilities I do still see for narration as a complementary element, if you will, in any of these scenarios.

Yes, the conversations are the lifeblood, the very essence of any kind of change, but narrators of that conversation could add a whole lot. For instance, narrators can heighten the understanding of a conversation’s importance by the very act of archiving it, provide additional meaning making through the news artefact, and also inspire and create a way for the conversations and action to continue between the gathering periods.

This is in fact some of the stuff we’re just exploring at Axiom News, so watch for more soon.

You can comment on this blog below, or e-mail michelle(at)axiomnews.ca.

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Michelle Strutzenberger

Michelle Strutzenberger brings more than 10 years of experience in writing, social media, curation and digital distribution. Subject areas of interest include creating abundant or deep communities, social-mission business, education that strengthens kids’ sense of hope and possibility and journalism that helps society create its preferred future. She is currently supporting the development of Axiom News podcasts. Contact Michelle at michelle(at)axiomnews.com.

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