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Building a Storytelling Culture and What’s Next

We’ve been at the centre of the story sharing and the interviews we do are each a gift. Maybe it’s time to share that gift.

Culture will eat strategy for lunch – and stories shape culture. This article, Building a Storytelling Culture, by Julie Dixon points out that most of us agree our organizations and communities should develop a storytelling culture but that knowing what to do about it is a bit dicier.

One of the key points is engaging people in the story finding and telling process. For the last 15 years of working with clients, Axiom News has been reaching out to the grassroots members of our client organizations to discover what is alive in their work at the moment and sharing those stories in written and video forms.

Julie makes a perfect point about engaging people in the story gathering journey. We’ve been experimenting with this too. Some things have worked but usually only for a time. We are now experimenting with small-group dialogues to bring people together in close conversation about questions that matter to them.

By interviewing one person at a time and sharing their story we have seen some remarkable things occur in client systems. Our thought and wonder is: What would happen if we took the same approach but involved more people in small-group conversations about the stories alive in their lives, invite them to hear from each other directly, and then work with them to explore what story comes next?

We’ve been at the centre of the story sharing and the interviews we do are each a gift. It seems that maybe it’s time to share that gift. By hosting intentional conversations and inviting more people into the experience our thought is that the intention of the stories in the first place will be felt more deeply.

  • More to Come

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

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Peter
Pula

Peter is the Founder of Axiom News. He has also founded and led a community newspaper and a corporate communications agency. He has served as a member and chairperson on the boards and committees of children's services, schools, municipal grants, arts, and local exchange organizations.

Peter led the discovery, founding, and practice of Generative Journalism as a healing and community art.

He has been invited to host workshops in Canada, Europe, and the United States on the practice of Generative Journalism, an open communications approach for emergent and constructive change in organizations, networks, and communities.

To bring dialogic and narrative arts together Peter and Axiom News initiated the Peterborough Dialogues in 2015. Over 150 deep dialogues, circles of trust, working circles, and summits have been held in Peterborough, Ontario to cultivate citizen-led community co-creation with beautiful results. The Peterborough Dialogues continues to be a rich practice field delivering up daily insights into the power of community convening.

Peter continues to integrate convening, journalism, and narrative arts practices to hold space for community to heal and for citizens to take the lead in creating the community of their dreams.

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There are two recurring complaints addressed in this letter:

  • Generative journalism just publishes “nice” and “positive” stories and doesn’t face reality
  • The phrase, “emerging narrative of gifts” is a string of buzzwords that are ultimately meaningless.

The stories we tell shape our culture. Journalism as a civic art, to be of real assistance to democracy, has a few things to overcome.

I have come to see capitalism as the ideology or worship of capital, of money. Absentee investment is the root of so much in the way of dissociation. Money for money’s sake, and not for what it can do. Instead, we should look at intimate and engaged investment, that puts the power of money to good use.

One of the challenges we face in realizing a reimagined democracy is the force of narrative. The dominant narrative, the one purveyed by mainstream media, corporate communications, and political campaigns, is for the most part an institutional narrative. It isn’t really for or by the grassroots at all.

During election time, we can easily get lost in the notion that voting and politicians are at the centre of democracy. And yet, democracy is so much more.

Today, democracy’s detractors point to the US experiment to denigrate the idea. In Canada, our politics have to a degree followed suit.

“The future of journalism is to play a fundamental and important role in an ecology of community development works and capacities and professions,” says Peter Pula, founder of Axiom News and pioneer of Generative Journalism.

Peter is now co-leading a local initiative to bring citizen-led dialogue and community development in direct partnership with the media.

Awakening to healing and becoming whole In community

In 2015, the year Axiom News gave birth to the Peterborough Dialogues, over 100 gatherings were hosted. I was asked by an astounded colleague in Europe, why would anyone do that? Well, to know and to serve. That’s why.