ReFrame Year In Review 2023

Here at ReFrame we take a small pause every quarter, check our compass, and adjust our heading to stay the course. At the end of the year, we take a longer pause to evaluate where we’ve been and set direction for the next year. Below is a summary of the activities and impacts of ReFrame’s work in 2023. Of course, we do not do this work alone, we are moving with others to build narrative power and bend the arc of justice towards justice and liberation.‍

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. 

ReFrame Senior Narrative Cohort in Richmond, VA
ReFrame Senior Narrative Cohort in Richmond, VA

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.

Narrative Power Now Cohort in Chicago, IL
Narrative Power Now Cohort in Chicago, IL

In the summer of 2023, we released Down the Rabbit Hole: Demystifying QAnon Narratives and Networks.  Synthesizing over 18 months of research, our team, in collaboration with Women’s March and Political Research Associates, dug into the way QAnon networks contort the truth that aim to create a new QAnon reality and understanding of the world. Our report, the content of which was interacted with by 300,000 people, delves deep into a world where things aren’t what they seem. Importantly, the report explores the impacts of QAnon networks and narratives across race, gender, and class in a way that breaks the misperception these networks and narratives are spreading in only white and rural communities. Check out this interview between two of the leaders behind this report, Bia Jackson and Ivie Osaghae! 

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.

ReFrame staff at an event in New York in April 2023.
ReFrame staff at an event in New York in April 2023

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.

The participants, staff, and field specialists of the 2023 in-person ReFrame Academy.
The participants, staff, and field specialists of the 2023 in-person ReFrame Academy.

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.

ReFrame staff and alumni at the Small Town Summit in Missoula, MT
ReFrame staff and alumni at the Small Town Summit in Montana.

2024 is going to be another big year for ReFrame and for our movements, and we can’t wait for you to join us! 

more blog posts from reframe

Previous post goes here

There are no previous posts

<  back to blog archive

Next post goes here

This is the latest post

<  back to blog archive