Telling New Stories

I was in Ohio last week, meeting some of the people who have been working with The Harwood Institute on community engagement in communities across the state. These individuals have served as Centers of Strength for an effort to transform a dozen large urban high schools into over 60 autonomous small schools. As Centers of Strength, they have engaged parents, teachers, administrators, business leaders and other members of their communities in conversations about the kind of schools they want, and ultimately the kind of community they want to live in. These conversations are rooted in sense of possibility and help people with real differences find a common path. By engaging in a conversation of possibility, these Centers of Strength have chosen a path that helps to repair the breach in public life. It has not been easy, and there have been many struggles to overcome, but in the end, each of these people can now tell a new type of story. These stories are much different than the stories that flood the media and the presidential campaign. They are stories that represent how we can imagine and act for the public good. These are the stories that need to be told.

We need more of these stories, stories of collective action that transcend superficial division.

Each one of us should start telling stories from our own experience that show this sense of possibility. Such stories could include bringing people from different neighborhoods together to restore a park, fostering cooperation between organizations that had been in competition, or simply finding common ground during a conversation with someone who disagrees with you. Every story we tell is a step toward creating a new story for our nation, and no step is too small. I hope you will share some of your stories with us in the comments section of this post. Just click on the comments link below.