“‘Culture eats policy for lunch’ is a quote that I think about a lot,” says Talia Gad, Communications Director at Partnership for Safety and Justice in Oregon. “If you don’t shift the culture, you can pass all the policies that you want but they won’t necessarily be implemented appropriately. A culture shift must happen whether we pass laws or not… It’s essential.”
As we grow the narrative power ecosystem we need to win we like to highlight the awesome strategists we get to work with. Gad is a participant in the Northwest Health Foundation Fellowship and we took a few minutes to check-in on how she is doing.
Gad enters her work from a public health background and currently spends her time at Partnership for Safety and Justice (PSJ) working to change the way the public safety system is viewed and operated. PSJ is about transforming society’s response to crime and violence in a way that centers accountability, equity and healing. It is the first policy-advocacy organization in the country to take a holistic approach of bringing together folks who are victims of crime, folks who have been convicted of crime and the families of both to address the challenges Oregonians face when dealing with the root of the issue, public safety and the lack and dysfunction in the criminal justice system.
What narratives do you believe are important to lift up in the work you do?
Gad: “One narrative would be that public safety looks different for different people. What our systems put forth as public safety is rooted in systemic racism and punishment, and it just doesn’t offer true public safety for real people, in particular for communities of color. Another is that we cannot solve homelessness, addiction and mental health crises with the carceral system. Those are a couple of the main narratives and narrative frames that we need to rebuild in order to make our public safety system more effective.”
I often think about if we could eliminate barriers in education, housing, healthcare, public health, transportation, and all of these other public services and deliver true healing services for people who seek treatment and other approaches to healing, what then could our public safety system look like? So there's a big prevention component here. There are certainly elements that we are working to get rid of but we really don’t frame our work in terms of what we are trying to deconstruct. We are framing our work in what we are trying to build.”
What are the goals of PSJ and what work are you doing to push towards those goals?
Gad: “PSJ has 3 strategic goals: Invest in local solutions to build up a public safety system that achieves true accountability and healing, shrink the current corrections system that disproportionately harms Black and brown families, and transform people’s expectations and ideas of what the public safety system is supposed to look like.
We are currently testing the way we talk about needed policy reforms and framing them as values that we share. When we view needed policy changes as values that we all want for our own families, and when these values are communicated by the right people, our hope is that we can create a more vivid picture of why we need to eliminate unnecessary barriers and give more people an opportunity to succeed.”
What brings you hope in the work you do and what keeps you inspired?
Gad: “I am really excited about this current wave of the civil rights movement. As a person who has not been systemically impacted by the system, I have to be led by people who have something to say about it. There’s humility in stepping back and making space for the right voices and right stories to be leading the movement and I am deeply influenced by those people. The movement also makes me feel hopeful because folks are taking the time to listen to impacted people, and you can’t unknow those stories. There is a wealth of knowledge and information that people are constantly being exposed to and you can’t unknow things that are now in the water.”
What do other community led organizations need to understand or do better when it comes to narrative and comms work?
Gad: “Stories inspire emotions, stories inspire feelings. If you can make people feel things, you can make them change things. This is the heart of why it's so important to make people feel what the status quo is doing to families and communities and the urgency to rethink what true public safety should look like for communities in Oregon.”
To learn more about the fellowship, check out this blog.
more blog posts from reframe
Sr. Cohort Strengthening the Narrative Power Infrastructure
Since 2015 when we launched the ReFrame Mentorship, we have been investing in leaders and organizations to build a durable, long-term narrative power infrastructure that along with organizing, can bend the arc of history towards justice. In line with this vision, we saw an opening that led us to the Senior Narrative Cohort.
Skilling Up to Build Narrative Power: Reflections on Narrative Power 101
Over 800 hundred organizers, creatives, and strategists joined ReFrame for Narrative Power 101 (in real-time and asynchronously!), to skill up and build narrative power to win.
Answering the Call - NPS '22 Reflections
Opening statements from ReFrame Executive Director, Joseph Phelan, and ReFrame Deputy Director, Hermelinda Cortés, along with photos from the 2022 Narrative Power Summit.
Register Now for Narrative Power 101 Training
Join ReFrame on October 25th for Narrative Power 101! This free virtual training reviews the fundamentals of narrative and disinformation while offering new approaches and practical steps for your everyday work.
Introducing the Narrative Power Summit!
This October 6-8, ReFrame and RadComms are bringing narrative power builders together for a hybrid summit in Long Beach, CA!
What is Safety Really? Organizing for a New Way
Jenny Lee and Damon Motz-Storey were in a six-month fellowship run by ReFrame in partnership with the Northwest Health Foundation. We took a few minutes to check-in on how they are doing.
Ukraine, Democracy and the Far Right
The TL;DR - How the meme of a Ukrainian granny with a gun hides a far right secret OR the fog of war is murky, beware of the far right OR, the fight for multi-racial democracy at home and abroad.
Collective Bargaining for Stronger Communities
As we grow the narrative power ecosystem we need to win we are taking moments to highlight the awesome strategists we get to work with. Luo was a participant in the ReFrame Summer Academy and we took a few minutes to check-in on how she is doing.
What the South Taught Me About Predicting Narratives
The God's honest work and lineage of organizing in the South taught me that understanding not just the political terrain but the narrative landscape is essential to building power. Our movements can contend for power at the level of ideas, beliefs, and values and set the narrative arena in which we organize.
The Promise of ReFrame
ReFrame’s Executive Director, Joseph Phelan, recounts his time as a communicator and organizer at Miami Workers Center as part of the inspiration for the vision and promise of ReFrame to build narrative power at scale. “I could see a future where we were touching these contacts with targeted messages and stories that overtime lead to a shift in worldview.”
Through The Looking Glass: 2022 Narrative Predictions
SAVE THE DATE: Through The Looking Glass - 2022 Narrative Predictions
Shifting the Culture of Crime and Punishment
As we grow the narrative power ecosystem we need to win we are taking moments to highlight the awesome strategists we get to work with. Talia Gad is a participant in the Northwest Health Foundation Fellowship and we took a few minutes to check-in on how she is doing.
ReFrame x NWHF Narrative Fellowship
ReFrame and Northwest Health teamed up to train leaders in community organizations in the Pacific Northwest to engage in narrative work to win.
THE RONA REPORT: THE ECONOMY, WORKERS & UNEMPLOYMENT
Exploring the narrative weather of Covid-19. The Rona Report is a project of ReFrame and Solea Signals. COVID time is confusing. It can feel like light speed and sloth slow all at once.
GOTV: Tools for Fighting Disinformation NOW & Beyond
Many who believe in justice are fighting hard for victories at the ballot box. However, our opponents are spreading disinformation that threaten the just future we are all working towards.
Threat Modeling & Swot Planning
At ReFrame, drawing from our experiences inside of other crisis moments, two of the tools we’ve been using to coordinate our team in the time of COVID-19 is individual and organizational threat modeling & SWOT planning.
A Movement Moment: Narrative in the Time of Corona
We are here with you. Our hearts and thoughts are with everyone who is struggling right now.
Creating an Ecosystem for Narrative Power
The political landscape is shifting by the week. What we need to stay above the current is what will allow us to build narrative power for the long-haul.
A Spectacular Start to the 2019 Reframe Program
The fifth class of the ReFrame Mentorship kicked off in May with a spectacular Opening Convening in Denver and Breckenridge, Colo.
5 Minutes With Power California’s Jung Hee Choi
Jung Hee Choi is a Senior Advisor and mentor for ReFrame and the Associate Director for Communications and Policy Strategies for Power California.
Introducing the 2019 Reframe Mentorship Cohort
At ReFrame, we envision national and international movements buoyed by hundreds of thousands of strategists who are collaborating to develop and advance deep narratives that bend the long arc of history toward justice.
Black Panther: The Movie About Blackness That Reflected Back Gold
First things first, if you have NOT yet seen Black Panther, stop reading right now and go watch it. Yes, RIGHT NOW. Then come back later and read this.
ReFrame Gives Me Hope (Video)
Some of the ReFrame mentors reflect on their mentees and the hope they have for the future.
It’s Humanizing (Video)
Shanelle Matthews, ReFrame mentor and Communications Director at Black Lives Matter Global Network, reflects on why learning and collaborative spaces like ReFrame are humanizing and powerful for oppressed communities.
Build The Story (Video)
Brandon Hill, who works with Cook Inlet Keeper, talks about why he applied for and participated in ReFrame.
We Have a Responsibility to Our Ancestors (Video)
Fresco Steez, who works with BYP100, talks about the importance of story and the responsibility of building power towards action to end oppression for all people.
Hope & Liberation (Video)
JaNaé Bates, who works with ISAIAH, talks about shifting narratives away from fear and towards hope and liberation.
ReFrame For Our Future (Video)
The ReFrame Mentorship is a six-month program that builds the next generation of strategic communicators in social justice, and supports organization to integrate communications as a core strategy.
Lessons From the Field: Fighting Trump’s Deportation Machine
Immigrant rights organizations like Juntos, a Latinx grassroots group in Philadelphia, have been mobilizing powerfully in the months since Donald Trump took office. For Miguel Andrade, the communications manager at Juntos and a 2017 ReFrame mentee, strategic communications has played a critical role in their organizing work.
Lessons From the Field: Climate Change Organizing in the Trump Era
For 27 years, Cook Inletkeeper has worked to protect Alaska’s waterways and the life and people that they sustain. According to Brandon Hill, the organization’s Communications Director and a 2017 ReFrame mentee, that work is always an uphill battle.
Lessons From the Field: Winning the Fight to Save the Internet
Fake news, corporate control of the internet, digital surveillance, law enforcement agencies using big data to target communities of color — all of these issues have taken on increasing importance in recent years. The Center for Media Justice (CMJ), founded in 2008, is at the forefront in ensuring that communities of color are at the center of the debate and policy solutions to these critical problems.
Lessons From The Field Strategic Communications For Statewide Organizations
For statewide organizations that work on a variety of issues, it can often be difficult for their communications staff to manage and plan strategies to effectively get the word out about all of their organization’s work.
Lessons For The Movement
When we launched ReFrame in 2015, we had one mission in mind: to develop the next generation of strategic communicators — leaders rooted in grassroots movements who understand how to shape and control the narrative and stories about the issues they work on and, equally importantly, have the strategic thinking and skills to do so.
Dream of Where to Go
Reflection and evaluation allows us to understand if we are on the path to realizing our dreams. Heading into our third year of building the next generation of social justice communicators, we took time to reflect on what we have done so far.
Why Add Communications to Organizing Strategy? (Video)
Aquilina Soriano Versoza, Pilipino Workers Center
Fighting Disinformation, Building Narrative Power
We are organizing and telling stories on an uneven playing field, where the underlying narratives have long been shaped by highly conservative forces. This is the playing field on which mis-and-disinformation is spreading. So how do we combat it?
Announcing the new Disinfo Defense Toolkit!
Curated by ReFrame and PEN America for the Disinfo Defense League. Powerful tools to push back while continuing to advance our work for justice
We Came To Win: Reflections on Narrative Power in the 2020 Election
How key strategists built narrative power in 2020 during a global pandemic, the rise of the largest demonstrations for racial justice in US history, the highest rate of voter turnout and a significant defeat of Trumpism at the polls.
Defanging Disinformation: 6 Action Steps Nonprofits Can Take
Disinformation has become more effective at generating chaos and seeding doubt in reality. As part of our work with the Disinformation Defense League, ReFrame and This is Signals have committed to sharing lessons learned with the field and action steps on how to slow the spread of disinformation.