Picture this: It's a crisp morning, and you’re making your way to work, pondering surging gas prices, calculating ways to support your family financially, and hoping that rumors of a recession are just that — rumors. The week’s headlines bombard you from all angles – George Santos' Cameo prices skyrocket, SCOTUS decides to go after the abortion pill, a group of workers go back to work after winning a better contract, and Yoshinobu Yamamoto gets courted by MLB dynasties.
Meanwhile, in cyberspace, you have a YouTuber boldly denouncing the Pantone Color of the Year, an Instagram influencer preaching the Marie Kondo treatment for holiday decor, anons on Reddit already talking about budget-friendly holiday gifts for next year, and a TikToker guides your local group of friends or fellow organizers in vision-boarding for the new year. If it feels like we’re living in multiple realities simultaneously, we are. Our fragmented media landscape means we often are not having the same conversations with the same information on top of many voices vying to make sense of similar and different stories.
No wonder the vibe is chaotic.
The narratives shaping our lives have continued to evolve in unexpected ways. Cultural tides ebb and flow and the unpredictable currents of global events have created a dynamic tapestry that demands our attention and strategic foresight. We are thrilled to announce Vertigo Variations, Reframe’s 2024 Narrative Predictions.
Our yearly narrative predictions serve as a beacon in an age characterized by uncertainty and information overload. ReFrame’s narrative predictions are strategic tools to empower you with insights into narrative themes, risks, and opportunities. We hope it becomes an essential tool as you navigate the complex narrative terrain of the future.
Our prediction reports have been on the money for the last two years. We predicted the rise of the multipolar world and watched the BRICS alliance push back against Western dominance on the global stage. We forecasted the erosion of trust in government, institutions, and elected officials and kept a pulse on the seemingly unending stories highlighting corruption and fraud. Narrative predictions provide a roadmap for understanding the evolving landscape of democracy, our economy, and society at large. We are eager to share our findings with you and engage in a dialogue that shapes the narrative landscape in service of justice, equity and liberation.
Check out Vertigo Variations ReFrame's 2024 Narrative Predictions hereand join us in February for our 2024 Narrative Predictions Launch Event, where you will meet and hear from our strategists about how we came to these predictions and more.
If you can’t make it or want to let us know what you think may unfold in 2024 please drop us a line at email@example.com. You can also give us direct feedback!
Your continued support and engagement are crucial as we collectively navigate the unpredictable waters of 2024.
We started 2023 by releasing our second-annual narrative predictions report, Catalyzing Ripples, a forecast of the terrain of meaning-making in 2023. Over 13,000 people across the world interacted with our 2023 narrative predictions adding to the over half-million interactions across all of our narrative research products. As the year progressed, we heard story after story of leaders across our movements, from philanthropic partners to narrative strategists within statewide power-building formations to leaders inside of issue coalitions who used the insights from the narrative predictions to inform their strategies and tactics over the course of the year.
As people continued to make sense of our 2023 Narrative Predictions, our team was hard at work developing our second public narrative research offering of 2023: Trans Athletes: A Narrative Analysis, Our team collaborated with Kayley Whalen, who we met at the Narrative Power Summit in 2022 and Lex Horwitz, to present our preliminary research at Creating Change in San Francisco. The report, released at the end of March on Trans Day of Visibility, is about how critical narratives about fairness and safety are shaping the landscape and who is driving the conversation and is a resource for those working to develop narrative strategies to win whether you’re an athlete, coach, policymaker or an organizer.
In the spring of 2023, we wrapped up our first-ever Senior Narrative Cohort! At the request of many strategists who were yearning for another leadership development opportunity after going through the ReFrame Mentorship or the Academy, the Senior Narrative Cohort convened 11 leaders for support towards long-term infrastructure building and to develop the next layer of narrative power leadership. We provided narrative project grants to each organization to support and create impactful work. Sebastian Saavedra, the Communications Coordinator at Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR) used this grant to film a documentary about Latinx communities in rural Georgia and their fight to end 287(g) and increase civic engagement. JaNaé Bates, the incoming Co-Executive Director at ISAIAH and Faith in Minnesota, used this grant to resource a political education program for incarcerated folks in the Midwest.
After the Senior Narrative Cohort wrapped, we were getting ready to launch Narrative Power Now with our partners at We Make the Future. Narrative Power Now, a collaborative fellowship, ran for over 5 months training 16 new state-based narrative strategists (17, if you include a participant in our Fall Academy!). Our programming supported leaders in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Philadelphia, Texas, and Wisconsin to connect their day-to-day work to long-haul strategies of building narrative power in defense of a vibrant multiracial democracy and an economy that works for all.
The first half of 2023 wasn’t just full of powerful training and narrative research offerings - it was a time of exciting transition at ReFrame. In early 2023, hermelinda cortés accepted the role as our Executive Director of ReFrame as Joseph Phelan, our founding Executive Director, powerfully transitioned out of the organization. We celebrated this organizational milestone during two events in New York City. At the LGBT Community Center in New York City, ReFrame staff and alumni joined with partners across the field to engage in a visionary discussion about the future of the field of narrative power-building. Later that evening, we gathered at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture to celebrate Joseph and hermelinda’s leadership as well as the powerful history and future of ReFrame.
This summer we experienced the great loss of our beloved comrade Stephanie Gasca who passed away in July. Ask anyone and they’ll tell you Stephanie Gasca was a real one – a take no shits, fierce mother and tía, organizer, and powerhouse. Stephanie did not care about performance politics; she cared about loving her people and getting her people free. She graduated from our second Mentorship class in 2016 and stayed connected with Team ReFrame after the mentorship as an active member of our alumni network, joining the ReFrame staff team in 2020; and we gathered virtually to honor her memory in August.
With another challenging election cycle on the horizon, ReFrame took a bold step by offering not one, but two parallel Academies, both in person and virtually. The 400 participants from 40 states and eight countries, including a participant joining from their phone in a car in Zimbabwe, brought insightful questions, innovative ideas, rich experiences, and experimental musings to Academy programming, infusing it with texture, energy, and innovation. The ReFrame Academy has been offered to social justice movements in various forms for the past five years, during which our world and movements have evolved, as has the conversation around narrative. While the format of the Academy has evolved, the core mission remains unchanged — equipping communicators and organizers with the skills, connections, and expertise to strengthen and establish narrative power.
That wasn’t our last training offering for 2023, as we launched Narrative Nexus: Power and Philanthropy in December! Narrative Nexus is a six-part workshop series (five virtual, one in person) designed and facilitated by Joseph Phelan, Jung Hee Choi and hermelinda cortés for 34 leaders in philanthropy about narrative power and infrastructure building co-sponsored by The California Endowment and Chan Zuckerberg Initiative with support from the Melville Charitable Trust.
Amidst all of this, ReFrame went on road to build and deepen relationships across the narrative power-building ecosystem. Outside of the US, ReFrame staff went to Panama to co-present the initial findings of Proyecto ¡Oye! [Executive Summary in ENG | ESP - full report coming next year!] with our partners AfroResistance, and to Colombia for the Confluence gathering hosted by the Global Narrative Hive. In the US, we traveled to California for Creating Change hosted by the National LGBTQ Task Force and to CHANGE Philanthropy’s Unity Summit, Montana for the Small Town Summit hosted by United Today, Stronger Tomorrow, Missouri for the Roots & Remedies with the Praxis Project, Maryland for the Black Feminist Future gathering, Virginia for the closing convening of our Senior Narrative Cohort, Kentucky for our summer Staff Advance, and Georgia for our in-person Academy.
2024 is going to be another big year for ReFrame and for our movements, and we can’t wait for you to join us!
This summer, ReFrame asked ourselves these exact questions in regards to the ReFrame Academy, a five-day immersive narrative power boot camp. Despite the recent passing of our operations and event management expert, Stephanie Gasca, we resisted the temptation to stick with the familiar and instead embraced what the moment demanded. With another challenging election cycle on the horizon, ReFrame took a bold step by offering not one, but two parallel Academies, both in person and virtually. It was a significant gamble. Would people be willing to travel given the uncertainty of COVID and competing priorities? Would those fatigued by Zoom and online training sign up for a week-long boot camp? Could we successfully pilot a new training approach that combines live and pre-recorded sessions? Could we manage this with our limited capacity?
The TL;DR is a resounding YES. The demand for the ReFrame Academy was evident. The 400 participants from 40 states and eight countries, including a participant joining from their phone in a car in Zimbabwe, brought insightful questions, innovative ideas, rich experiences, and experimental musings to Academy programming, infusing it with texture, energy, and innovation. Our commitment to amplifying marginalized voices and honoring ReFrame’s legacy of justice communications built by LGBTQIA+ and Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) was reflected in those that signed up and attended with 58% of participants identified as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), and 48% self-identified as LGBTQIA+.
"It was super helpful, one of the more well-done [trainings] I have attended this past year. The modules were really helpful, the time commitment was doable, and the trainers and facilitators were superb. The attachments and worksheets will help my comms team [plan] for the future." - Citlaly Mora from Just Futures Law , 2023 ReFrame Academy Alum
The profound sense of isolation stemming from the ongoing pandemic, coupled with the internal silos many communicators and organizers across issues operate within, struck a chord. The overwhelming gratitude expressed by seasoned and emerging organizers and communicators at being able to connect with like-minded, values-aligned individuals speaks volumes. It is clear that individuals across social movements and non-profits yearn for integrated and impactful communications and organizing strategies, recognizing that narrative work is fundamental to organizing and power-building.
"As a new hire at the org I work for, the power mapping tool was very helpful, as it helped me learn the 'lay of the land' in our work. I was able to identify 'major players' in the work and where they exist in the landscape…. One major takeaway was understanding the difference between a story and narrative, as well as the difference between a strategy and tactic, and why all the aforementioned are important." - Isiejah Allen from Freedom Network USA, 2023 ReFrame Academy Alum
The ReFrame Academy has been offered to social justice movements in various forms for the past five years, during which our world and movements have evolved, as has the conversation around narrative. While there are now numerous trainings on "narrative" and an increasing number of organizations dedicated to narrative work, the response to the Academy offerings confirmed that our unique approach continues to fill a significant gap, with a training team, narrative specialists and organizational expertise in not only narrative but campaigning and local, regional, national and international organizing. We are able to ground and connect conceptual frameworks with bread and butter skill building and organizing case studies.
Our exceptional network plays a vital role in our work, including anchoring our training containers like The Academy. The ReFrame narrative network is composed of thousands of communicators, organizers, digital experts, press specialists, direct action advocates, authors, documentarians, and artists. For the recent Academy, ten ReFrame alumni served as narrative specialists, offering personalized support to small groups of participants throughout the week. This relational, political, and practical guidance enabled participants to apply the tools, frameworks, and lessons learned in the workshops to their specific contexts. This dynamic aspect of the Academy mitigates common training pitfalls, where information is simply disseminated without providing opportunities for real-time exploration and application.
At ReFrame, we emphasize building narrative infrastructure as critical to building narrative power. We know we cannot build power alone as one entity, organization, campaign or institution. Narrative infrastructure includes the individuals, organization, networks and institutions making meaning at scale. We need to continue to grow our narrative infrastructure in order to build and wield narrative power. Spaces like the Academy allow us to introduce this framework and continue to expand and fortify our shared narrative infrastructure across geography, issue, method, and identity.
"The Academy was everything and more. This group and the people I've met this week were very informative, supportive, and incredible. At times, the information was heavy to manage, but there were moments I could pull away and connect with someone ... experiencing the same heartbreak, curiosity, or even [sharing] a space of laughter. This space supports understanding narrative power and how to redirect communication during any social climate issue."
While the format of the Academy has evolved, the core mission remains unchanged — equipping communicators and organizers with the skills, connections, and expertise to strengthen and establish narrative power.
As we step into 2024, our mission remains clear: to equip the next generation of narrative power builders with the skills and connections needed, and to expand and activate our movement networks so that we can wield our power in the service of justice, liberation, and dignity for our communities. Want to stay connected to future ReFrame trainings and offerings? Be sure to sign up for updates here.
"I know myself, and I think a lot of us, have come a long way. I remember staring at some of the worksheets being, like, 'What's a value? What's a narrative?' And now it's like boom, boom, boom, we knocked it out. Let's go!" Nadeska Concha from Florida for All
On a Tuesday afternoon in early October, like we did for many Tuesdays in 2023, the strategists who made up the Narrative Power Now cohort gathered on Zoom for the last time, completing 10 months of programming for We Make the Future’s state narrative cohort. The program - starting with We Make the Future anchoring the Global Messaging Programme (GMP), followed by ReFrame’s extended Academy program - demonstrates the power of connecting and investing in leaders working to build narrative power to win. After the four-day ReFrame Academy in Chicago this past May, Nadeska felt more prepared to advocate for narrative strategy. Five months later, she is prepared to build a powerful narrative strategy in Florida and advocate for the infrastructure - training, education, and resources - to make it happen.
But Nadeska's not the only one in Narrative Power Now who has grown as a narrative strategist and as a leader over the course of the program. Our programming has enabled leaders in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Philadelphia, Texas, and Wisconsin to connect their day-to-day work to long-haul strategies of building narrative power in defense of a vibrant multiracial democracy and an economy that works for all.
Trevor Cochlin from ISAIAH and Faith in Minnesota led trainings using ReFrame tools for the Minnesota Narrative Justice League with Minister JaNaé Bates, an alum of ReFrame’s Mentorship and Senior Narrative Cohort. Josette Ferguson from Progress NC was asked to lead trainings on narrative for their organization and those they collaborate with. Ellie Lapp from Together Colorado brought the practice of narrative identification using ReFrame tools to new organizers during a day-long Organizing 101 training and reported back:
"The thing that landed the most was that we need to be intentional about how we talk about our organizing work and the stories we tell to make sure they fit into our worldview and not the opposition's. It also helped our newer volunteer leaders see that we have a long-term narrative agenda in addition to our shorter-term campaigns."
Because of the training and support of Narrative Power Now, Trevor, Ellie, and a number of other participants brought what they’ve learned back home to grow the ranks of people building the power of making meaning at scale. Narrative Power Now’s impact can also be felt in the way participants like Kyla Rollins of Sequal Consulting and Angela Lin of Ohio Voice who are using the tools they’ve learned to craft powerful narrative strategies to win.
"I came into the program thinking I would leave with a few new skills I could implement in my day-to-day work. I'm leaving the program as a different, stronger organizer, communicator, and strategist." - Kyla Rollins, Sequal Consulting.
“I've used the tools from NPN in the campaigns I am supporting, in identifying emerging narratives and the narratives we want to advance, and that has been helpful in creating messaging and strategy.” Angela Lin, Ohio Voice
As we gear up for 2024, we must continue to invest in the infrastructure that makes it possible for our movements to build narrative power and make meaning at scale next year and beyond through programs like Narrative Power Now. The leaders in this cohort are strategists in the narrative battles of our time; and are predicting that they’ll be facing narrative battles about the future of work and the economy, access to healthcare like abortions that helps people thrive, climate change, and the ways that people’s identities will be used to unite or divide communities.
“The biggest takeaway [from Narrative Power Now] was that progressive comms folks are not out here struggling in a vacuum because there is a small army of communicators and storytellers using data-backed methods to phrase things in a way that helps prime the audience to be open to hearing it - and, more importantly, agreeing with it. This is a moment in American history that requires courage and clear eyes/heart; authentic narratives will help bridge the chaos, and, God willing, lead us to liberation.” - Sarah Stevenson, Fund MI Future
To win the narrative battles of our time requires us to continue to grow the next generation of narrative strategists: communicators, storytellers, organizers, and creatives that Sarah is talking about. The leaders we’ve worked with in Narrative Power Now can’t win alone - now these leaders are better equipped to spread their skills and relationships with colleagues from across the country who are also working to defend democracy in 2024.
There is no silver bullet to building and wielding narrative power, and anyone who says otherwise is selling you a vehicle that they know is a bit of a lemon. But we do know that we must continue to invest in the human-based infrastructure and ecosystem to build narrative power - and ReFrame is even more ready to help our movements build power in the year to come and beyond.
We're thrilled to extend an exciting invitation for a transformative experience like no other. Get ready to amplify your narrative power and be part of something truly extraordinary: ReFrame's Fall Academy 2023!
The Landmark Narrative-Power Building Training:
Rooted in the lineage of justice communications built by Black, Indigenous, people of color, women, and LGBTQIA+ organizers, the Academy, held from October 16th to 20th, 2023 is an essential resource for communicators, organizers and activists.
The Academy is a five-day experience rooted in narrative power building that focuses on both strategy development and communications tactics. Participants will bring back to their organizations, coalitions, and alliances an understanding of message development, media production, digital communications, and a network of peers and seasoned practitioners to call upon for support and collaboration.
Double the Excitement: In-Person and Virtual Experiences!
This year, we're doubling the excitement with not one but two Academy experiences!
You can choose between the in-person and virtual options, depending on what suits you best.
Here's a quick comparison:
No matter which option you choose, you're in for a powerful, skill-based training experience that will elevate your narrative power-building capacities to new heights!
The ReFrame Academy is more than just a training—it's a stepping stone in cultivating leaders for social justice, equipped to enact narrative change for racial, economic, gender, and climate justice and forming connections to a larger community engaging transformation of common sense across society. Together we can supercharge an unparalleled opportunity to develop the field’s ability to advance narrative change at scale
Ready to Sign up?
We can't wait to have you join us for this exceptional opportunity.
To learn more and sign up, simply click on the links below:
It began with whispers in the shadows of internet chat rooms and forums of alternative tech. Someone known simply as “Q” began dropping cryptic messages, claiming a deep state cabal of Satan worshiping pedophiles ran the government, institutions, and Hollywood. This was the start to a web of intrigue and blatant falsehoods, what we now know as QAnon.
Like wildfire, this series of conspiracy theories spread, captivating minds with its elaborate narratives of government distrust and a battle between good and evil. As the tendrils of QAnon crept deeper into society, it promises belonging and reinventing the meaning of truth.
For the past 18 months, we have researched the ways networks of QAnon contort the truth to create a new QAnon-based reality. Our groundbreaking new report, Down the Rabbit Hole: Demystifying QAnon Narratives and Networks sheds light on the intricate webs of the following networks: Anti-vaccine, Vaccine Skeptical, Wellness, Fitness and Politicians & Candidates. ReFrame, alongside Women’s March and Political Research Associates, embarked on this journey to unravel the connections between QAnon and Q adjacent networks, their values, narratives, and the disinformation that surrounds it all. Our report delves deep into a world where things aren’t what they seem, transcending racial, gender and class boundaries, where perception and reality collide.
In an era where misinformation and conspiracy theories thrive, it's imperative to understand the terrain so we can organize our communities to be better equipped to fight for a democratic future rooted in justice, equity, and liberation. By critically examining the values, messages, and narratives that emerge from these networks, we hope to encourage a nuanced understanding of their impact on our communities and shifting societal expectations of governance and democracy as a whole.