It’ was a rainy Saturday morning at Power Shift 2011, and about half of the Florida A&M/Florida State delegation is learning how to inspire others with the “Story of Self,” a concept of galvanizing others through our storytelling. So much about community organizing and environmental justice involves compelling others into action. That’s what we learned to do.
I could quote the manual on crafting story, but that would be boring. Instead, I’ll say simply it’s about getting people to listen and to care about your reason for action. You have to share your story, hopefully build interest and sympathy and convince someone to join your cause – All in about two minutes. Sounds hard right? It’s easier than you might think.
First, you identify your purpose, outline your hardships and your choices and then explain the moral to the story of how you overcame. And then we broke out – facilitators split us into smaller groups and we worked together on story-of-self strategy and group dynamics. We learned how to prove through our motivations that our cause is worth the fight.
Three breakout sessions later, we had learned how to tell our stories, build rapport in one-on-one meetings and made a team. Oh, and of course, we all had to create a team chant! (My team, “The Green on the Screen Machine,” was one of the seven to actually perform our cheer live for the Power Shift attendants.) It was an incredibly fun way to spend a morning. But more than fun, it was invigorating. Even among your passions, sometimes it’s hard to want to continue.
Other students from our FAMU/FSU delegate attended a session on empowering “Front Line Impacted Communities,” mostly minority and indigenous groups who get forced off their lands and into life-threatening environmental situations. Read about it.
We came to Power Shift 2011 on a mission: to bring back to FAMU a stronger Green Coalition. I believe we succeeded.