August 8, 2019 at 11:28 am #45184ztpoterackParticipant
Hello! I recently watched a webinar and some of the ideas from it have been bouncing around in my head. The webinar is here, but I’d appreciate anyone’s thoughts on this subject, whether or not you’ve watched it. (I think this discussion loosely fits in this forum, but I can move it if need be).
The webinar is about disruptive storytelling, which is essentially a marketing term/technique about telling a story to make a change (get people to trust your company, buy your product, etc.). This article summarizes the idea from the marketing perspective, but we could apply it to our missions as educators.
In EE, we might tell a story that follows a “problem –> solution” format (“Orangutans are endangered due to habitat loss, and we can help them by purchasing RSPO certified palm oil.”) But because most people are so inundated with problems every day, they could tune out before hearing the solution. Or, they might see themselves positioned as the villain in the story (“I never knew about palm oil and I buy all these products, I’m a bad person and I’m hurting the orangutans”) which can drive them away also. However, there are other ways we can frame the story. The CEO of Get Storied recommends an “opportunity –> obstacle” format, though I’m still processing what this would look like for conservation concerns.
Basically, I just want to know what kind of stories your organization tells, and/or what stories you tell as an educator. How do you frame your stories? Who do you seem to reach with your stories, and who might you be missing or even alienating? What stories would you like to tell?
I’m wondering if it’s useful to think about the “stories” embedded in a particular program or activity, or if this applies more to bigger picture goals and community engagement.
Feel free to answer whichever questions you would like, or share any other ideas you have about this!
August 12, 2019 at 8:35 am #45201sskebbaParticipant
What an interesting concept. I use stories very frequently in all facets of my role, including formal lessons and informal guest interactions. This article really put how often I utilize them into perspective!
The biggest problem I face when engaging adult guests in stories is guilt or fear, probably as a result of framing “problem –> solution.” Often times the audience who doesn’t automatically take responsibility for negative environmental effects will begin to fear the large-scale issues with no easy solution. It may be useful to make the issue at hand as tangible and fixable as possible, or put a positive spin on it. “Orangutans are facing challenges as a result of palm oil cultivation, but the Sustainable Palm Oil app has helped X number of people make sustainable choices! Just like them, you can help orangutans everyday!”
For middle-age-group audiences, I find stories are most effective when they are the hero and by offering simple ways they can feel empowered. “May animals get sick by eating garbage that gets left in their habitats. Have you guys ever picked up a piece of trash that was just laying around? (Yes… woohoo! yay! you are amazing!!!). You can help save a native animal if you are aware of your surroundings and remove things that aren’t supposed to be there!”
With a younger audience (up to maybe 6 or 7), I rarely introduce stories with conflict. Introducing them to the concept (orangutans, clean ecosystems, etc) and building excitement with a positive message will allow them to gain a love and respect for the concept. This will encourage them to conserve it as they grown and learn more. I would be interested in hearing if anyone has an effective way to engage young audiences with this type of storytelling.
I am curious how others adjust their stories based on age-group!
August 23, 2019 at 11:19 am #45356ztpoterackParticipant
Thanks for the response! I hadn’t thought yet about how we should adjust stories for different audiences. I’d been assuming that a similar framework would work for many/most audiences, but the content might need to be adjusted. But you have a good point. This webinar talked about getting away from the hero/villain tropes, but I think that type of story is still very powerful for younger age groups.
With younger groups, my goal has usually been promoting empathy for nature, and stories are incredible tools for that. All stories have some sort of conflict, but the conflict can be something like finding food or a new home in a changing environment. Or it can be a story about ecosystem services. For instance, “People put garbage in the trash, and there are people who have jobs to take that trash away so our homes aren’t dirty and we don’t get sick. In the wild, there are animals like vultures whose ‘job’ it is to clean up ‘trash’ like leftover food from other animals. Without them, the whole world would be really dirty and we could get really sick!”
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