Earlier today when I was taking my morning walk, I noted how much busier the trails are on Mondays. I am sure it is the result of those weekend resolutions and commitments to living a healthier lifestyle. It always feels better to start anew at the beginning of the week – it’s a clean slate. However, the trails thin out bit-by-bit as the week progresses and by Fridays the trails are fairly open, Monday’s determination and commitment seemingly dissipating with the brief passage of time.
This morning’s flurry of wellness on the walking trail got me thinking about how our stories of Community have a similar cadence. When there is a newsworthy event, it feels as though everyone is flocking to get the “stories” around the incident. During weeks or months of awareness, there are posts and articles with stories related to the issue being highlighted or celebrated. But as the newness of the event fades and awareness campaigns end, often so does the sharing of related stories. And when these events or campaigns impact the societal construct of what is referred to as “marginalized communities”, only those stories that pull the hardest on heart strings get widespread distribution. We must remember that when the cameras move onto the next event and when the campaigns end, the stories do not disappear. More importantly, there is a story in each of us that does not have to result from trauma or social media blitzes.
Narratives, more so than facts, provide a historical snapshot of how data impacts Community – it reminds us that there are people behind the numbers and we all have a story to tell. All of our stories are important to our quilt of Community. If the stories shared are only those who have been denied equitable access to effective means of communication, well then the story of Community is incomplete. In data, qualitative methods (stories) are utilized for their potential to investigate and explain complex and diverse social phenomena, therefore a qualitative report that focuses only on one element can be misleading. We need stories from all viewpoints, not only for a more accurate account, but also to help better focus on commonality in order to better achieve effective change and to mobilize Community. Data is not the catalyst for change, instead data provides the foundation for effective policy that builds capacity for change; change and Community improvement arise from the reaction to the stories, the stories bring the numbers to life.
Our stories are as vast as the sky and it is important that we all are brave enough to share our own. That is why I am so proud to give a shameless plug for Metriarch’s® qualitative narrative report, Our Stories Reflect the Sky. The Our Stories narrative report captures the experiences of individuals around the state ranging from Domestic Violence to Food Sovereignty. The narrators who were brave enough to make themselves vulnerable to strangers by sharing difficult and personal stories spoke truth to power in a manner that data simply cannot. Our Stories unveils unedited narratives detailing encounters with public health – giving women a beautiful megaphone with which to share their stories. Metriarch® celebrated the soft launch of the Our Stories qualitative report in Oklahoma City at the end of April and will launch the digital version by month’s end.
Our Stories is a great example of how tragedy does not have to be the only catalyst for storytelling – there are stories around us everyday. The narratives in the Our Stories report were collected over a year’s time; Metriarch® is committed to continue sharing the stories that give voice to data.
We must remain vigilant in capturing the experiences of all and not editing or rewriting the narratives of those who historically have been denied equal access to effective means of communication. Let’s be more willing to share our stories daily and not wait for the tragic event, the week of awareness or yet another Monday morning.