Monday, September 28, 2009

Inside Stories

By John Esterle

It seems more and more of us in the public benefit sector are thinking and talking about the power of stories to connect and inform, to spark dialogue and action, to shift perspectives and policy. And with this talk comes familiar questions: How do we tell our story? How do we get it out there? What will break through and stick in our media saturated environment?

A new blog and podcast, Inside Stories, offers an intriguing and wide-ranging vehicle for exploring these and a host of storytelling related questions. In his introductory post and podcast, writer and researcher, Paul VanDeCarr, says:

When I say "storytelling" I'm talking about everything from fairy tales, to psychotherapy, to sermons, to gossip, to journalism, genealogy, courtroom cases, the theatre, film, literature and lots more. You'll hear stories and conversations about how and why people tell stories. I'm especially interested in how people use storytelling to build community, advance peace and social justice, and engage in civic affairs. In both the blog and podcast, I'll be aiming for insight, imagination, and fun.

The site's been up since the end of August, and though I haven't checked out every entry, I'd say Paul's eclectic mix of posts and brief podcasts appear to be more than hitting that mark.

So far, I'm especially interested in the thread of how stories appeal to emotion rather than reason to shape opinion. Not a new thread to be sure, but certainly a topical one when you consider our current public discourse and media landscape.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Re-Launching the TWI Blog

By John Esterle

When we first launched our blog* in the fall of 2006 I dipped my toes in the water with a few reflections, but seeing consistently zero comments gave me pause. Writing is usually a struggle for me, so when doubts -- who was reading, whether anything I was saying was of interest, blah blah -- predictably raised their heads, I pulled back. Indeed, it's been over two years since I posted anything.

TWI Fellow, Edd Conboy, however, didn't lose hope that the blog might be a source of connection, conversation, and community and has faithfully contributed occasional posts. I'm grateful for his perseverance. And zero comments is still the norm for what he posts....

Edd recently wrote to me "that current research indicates that fewer than two percent of a blog's readership ever comment. Regardless of the size and popularity of a given blog, this percentage seems to be a constant. The reason most often cited is a pattern of self-consciousness related to having their writing viewed by others."

Well, let's just say that I can relate to the that part about being self-conscious! It's also time for me to get over myself and starting posting again because I believe the blog can be a helpful way for TWI to amplify ideas, highlight the people and work we are connected with, and expand our ability to listen to others. It's also time for me to start contributing elsewhere as I can hardly expect others to comment on our blog if I don't do the same.

Allison Fine recently noted that the basic principles of social media are to be yourself, engage in a two-way conversation, listen, and learn. Those sound like great guidelines to follow as we seek to make our blog consistently fresh and lively.

I'm pleased to say that I'll have help in this endeavor as others, including Edd of course, will also contribute. And those of you reading can help by letting us know what you think. With enough of us jumping in, we just might create a new kind of TWI conversation.

* is now an archived page