Storytelling + Relationships + Resources = Lasting Change

How does lasting, positive change happen in communities?

There are many theories of change. We've observed that when people who "know better" show up with the "right" answers, changes don't often stick. Lasting change needs to begin from the residents of the neighborhood, who come together to create something that is theirs.

The problem is that many people who could use help don't have time to figure out how to help themselves. They are too busy making ends meet, which is really difficult. Or they are separated from each other, unmotivated, and maybe even angry.


Their vocabulary of possibilities might be greatly increased if they could quickly absorb a series of stories of what's working in other places. Then they could figure out which stories they like, share them with their friends, picks project, and then adapt the best of what works for others to their own current situation.


Trying new things by yourself is daunting. Few people really try. Key to trying new things is having a trusted relationship with somebody who takes you by the hand to try the new thing. The best such person is someone who is very similar to you and has a lot of your trust. We don't easily take advice from people who are really different from us.


Someone you trust has introduced you to a bunch of stories. You and your friends and neighbors have picked one that really resonates for you, that seems like it would help your current situation. Now what?

You need resources, things like templates, case studies, spreadsheets, project plans and funding. You could probably really use the ear of people who have gone through this process before, so you can ask them specific questions, and draw on their expertise.

Here's the thing: most change systems show up first with the resources and experts, and convince everybody just to do what the experts think is best. That's the process that doesn't stick very well.

If you've gone through this process the other way around, the way we're recommending here, you are now ready and eager for some resources to complete your project. That's where the person or people helping you need to connect you to experts, funding, and expertise that will help you adapt and complete the project.

Here's the whole process, spelled out as an equation:

Storytelling + Taking a Person by the Hand + Resources on Tap, not on Top = Lasting Change

Based on these ideas, we've started the Storytelling of What Works in one-minute videos.