That’s A Wrap! Congratulations to the 2023 Narrative Power Now Cohort!

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.

 "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. 

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