Changing How We Share Our Stories as a Community

Peter Pula describes the intended ecosytem of the Peterborough Dialogues. Illustration: Yvonne Hollandy.

Changing How We Share Our Stories as a Community

4 places that are experimenting with new practices around community-building and community-engaged journalism

It's exciting to see fresh practices and intentions around what it means to share stories as a community rising up in several places.

Below, we list four emerging initiatives, all representing a step into this ambiguous space that might best be called community-building and community-engaged journalism.

Though each has its nuances, all hint at the beginnings of a movement away from what author Tom Standage calls the historical blip of centralized, one-way media.

This is about a return to what Sarah Arthurs, New Scoop YYC co-founder, writes about as a "multi directional, generative way of talking to ourselves and tussling together with questions of meaning, knowledge, power and change."
 

New Scoop in Calgary

Still in the formative stages, New Scoop YYC makes three offerings, as described by Sarah:

 
  Sarah Arthurs at the site of some ancient pictographs in the Grotto Canyon, Alberta. "I had a sense of kinship with these unknown story tellers," writes the New Scoop YYC co-founder.
  • We are telling stories of what we want more of. We are actively seeking stories that reveal a Calgary that is thriving, sustainable and inclusive — driven by the courage and creativity of citizens and communities.
  • We are telling stories with a shifted chronology. Our stories focus on the present and the future. We are creating a large space for Calgarians to name and share their preferred futures.
  • New Scoop YYC has a different ownership and business model. We are a not-for-profit (NFP) multi-stakeholder co-op.
  1. Not-for-profit — no need to meet the financial agendas of absent shareholders
  2. Multi-stakeholder — individual and organizational members from Calgary, as well as the individuals who are doing the work (the worker members)
  3. Co-op — owned by members and governed democratically

Visit the New Scoop YYC media site here: www.newscoopyyc.coop


Community News Commons in Winnipeg

Launched in 2012, the Community News Commons is a citizen journalism initiative that trains, engages and empowers citizens to share the stories that are shaping their neighbourhoods.

 
  A photo of a winter maze on the Red River in Winnipeg. Featured in the Community News Commons, this photo by citizen journalist Greg Petzold tells its own story of what it means to be in community in Winnipeg.

In addition to offering a way and space for citizens to create stories around what matters most to them, the Community News Commons project gives them a chance to improve their digital media skills while gaining valuable experience in the field of communications.

Citizens receive training and mentorship free of charge thanks to ongoing support from The Winnipeg Foundation and sponsorships from a partnership of organizations, including the Winnipeg Free Press and Red River College.

“At this fork in the road, the challenge is to choose a path that best provides an opportunity for members of our community to share meaningful thoughts and ideas that will create positive impact on citizens and on the environments in which they live,” says Noah Erenberg, Community News Commons convener.

“As well, the goal is to work towards building a community that flourishes – for everyone."

Visit the Winnipeg Community News Commons website here: www.cncwpg.org
 

Community Voices in Cincinnati

Also still in the formative stages, Community Voices based in Cincinnati is intended to be a collaborative initiative that empowers citizens, neighborhoods and grassroots community efforts.

The vision of Community Voices: "A new narrative of community governance and political power in which ordinary residents, businesses, and neighborhoods: Speak in a strong, clear voice that is heard by decision-makers during transparent public-policy deliberation; support and learn from each other’s efforts to build satisfying communities."

While the volunteer-led initiative is beginning with a focus on publishing an ezine, called The Third Voice, the intention is to branch its activities into closely related activities and practices, including advocacy, research and training — all in keeping with the vision outlined above.

Visit the Community Voices website here: communityvoicescincy.wordpress.com


Peterborough Dialogues in Peterborough

 
  An illustration of what people who engaged with the Peterborough Dialogues said mattered most to them. Click the image to view a larger version. Illustrator: Jocasta Boone.

Peterborough Dialogues, founded by Axiom News, is a community dialogue and New Narrative Arts studio and could be considered another one of these pioneering initiatives.

Our calling questions are: “How Can We Create a Local Living Oasis in a Global Storm of Shifting Stands?” and “What if We Could Awaken Our Deepest Gifts and Possibilities to Cultivate a Resilient and Thriving Peterborough?”

Projects hosted by the Peterborough Dialogues are co-created with participants. The initiative is co- and crowdfunded by participating citizens and partners through a growing ecosystem of projects and partnerships that integrate new kinds of dialogue and media-making.

Click here to learn more about the Peterborough Dialogues: www.peterboroughdialogues.ca and www.peterboroughdialogues.media

Writer Bio

Michelle Strutzenberger's picture
Michelle Strutzenberger

Michelle Strutzenberger was with Axiom News as a Generative Journalist for more than 15 years (2001-2016). She recently joined the Resonance Centre for Social Evolution, an organization that works with communities to enable their citizens to connect deeply around their true values and dreams, and to foster an environment for participatory engagement. The Resonance Centre has identified two fundamental patterns for cultivating this kind of connection and engagement: Generative convening and the narrative arts (which includes Generative Journalism). Michelle is thrilled to add to and learn from this vital and exciting work.

Contact Michelle: michelle(at)resonancecentre.com.

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