From the Field: Stories of Social Change in Action
On our blog this summer, we’re sharing stories of those working to create social change here in Oregon—and beyond. Each month, we’ll highlight insightful research and essays, share innovative work, and provide tools to help you participate as a changemaker yourself. If you have news or events that deserve to be championed here, let us know.
Social Change Can’t Happen Without Powerful Storytelling
Writing in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, former Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards strategizes on how to change what she perceives to be a profound lack of empathy in politics. In order to break through entrenched political gridlock, Planned Parenthood has often relied on the willingness of women whose lives have directly benefited from its sexual education and healthcare programs to tell their stories.
One key takeaway? Organizations seeking to create change can always do more to lift up the voices of impacted people: “We need to empower and train people how to tell their own stories.” Read the full article here.
Keeping People Engaged in Your Cause With Help From Behavioral Science
How can you inspire people to act in support of a cause, when only four percent of a nonprofit’s followers actually see its social media posts? That’s one question that Edith Asibey and Joy Portella tackle in their article for the Stanford Social Innovation Review. They consider a behavioral model that suggests people only act when prompted, and only when they have the motivation and ability to do so.
Social changemakers “must understand that it’s all about their supporters—their journeys, their rhythms, their motivations.”
The authors recommend prompting supporters when they are highly motivated. For instance, when someone first expresses interest in your cause, it is critical to get in touch within a day or two. Social changemakers “must understand that it’s all about their supporters—their journeys, their rhythms, their motivations.” Read all five of these recommendations here.
The Most Important Work We’ll Never Finish
Sarah McAfee explores what it really means to work towards equity in an essay for The Communication Network’s journal, Change Agent. Her organization—the Center for Health Progress—has made a commitment to adopting racial equity as a core tenet of its practice. In this process, McAfee has discovered all the ways in which she herself has been complicit in perpetuating inequities. One example: in her role as Director of Communications, she had used euphemisms such “race-based bias” instead of “racism.”
Now she understands the pursuit of racial equity not only “has had an important impact on us as individuals and as an organization, but it’s also made our communications work better in dramatic ways.” Read the full essay and the rest of Change Agent’s entire issue on racism.
The Roots of Health
Restorative justice is a philosophy and practice that uses dialogue to reduce community harm and teach students social-emotional skills. In the long term, it is far healthier than doling out strict punishments that are disproportionately applied to children of color.
Yet ten years ago, many of Portland’s students did not have access to this important resource—something the community-centered nonprofit Resolutions Northwest aimed to change.
“we now see that creating partnerships between schools and community organizations is key to creating health.”
To do so, they teamed up with partners, including the Northwest Health Foundation. Their collaboration has opened the eyes of many at the foundation: “we now see that creating partnerships between schools and community organizations is key to creating health.” Read the full story here.
Can Community Investment Trusts Help Slow Down Gentrification?
Renters in East Portland pay the price of gentrification: housing costs are quickly rising, and more than 14,000 households already devote more than 30 percent of their income to rent. This burden prevents many from feeling a sense of ownership in their own community.
Now, as Brendan Siebel writes for Pacific Standard, Mercy Corps Northwest is making a difference using a new real-estate model that could benefit other low-income communities across the country. Its East Portland Community Investment Trust allows a diverse array of community members to directly invest small amounts of money into a piece of local real estate—and to profit from its rising value. Read the full article here.
Uncovering the Lineage of Black Artists in Portland
Intisar Abioto is known as the creative mind behind The Black Portlanders. But lately, she’s also been doing a lot of digging—and she describes her latest research project in Oregon Humanities. For her, it has involved “ensconcing myself in the works of Black, Portland-area artists living and past, imbibing as much art and writing and as many perspectives as I could.”
“For Black artists, we know that art can have a role in caretaking for our communities in the United States and in other environments that have worked to obliterate us.”
Abioto has interviewed a number of these artists, and now feels a deeper connection to a lineage of art makers and activists working for the benefit of those in their community: “For Black artists, we know that art can have a role in caretaking for our communities in the United States and in other environments that have worked to obliterate us.” Read her entire essay here.
Help Build the B Ecosystem
The growing B Corp movement is a global movement of people using business as a force for good, and the B Corp Leadership Development Pacific Northwest Conference is just around the corner—it’s taking place here in Portland on June 13th. The goal of conference organizers is to “examine and generate ideas towards creating holistic partnerships that connect us as local, socially responsible businesses supporting our communities to build a more sustainable and just world.”
Here at Prichard, we’re proud to be a Certified B Corporation and support this vision. There are discounted tickets to the conference available for students and underrepresented communities, and after the conference there is a free block party where anyone can find out more about the B Corp movement.
Get the Tools You Need to Help Make a Difference in Your Community
“This program equips aspiring changemakers with key knowledge in a number of different disciplines.”
The Ford Family Foundation’s Select Books program allows any Oregon resident (as well as residents of California’s Siskiyou County) to obtain free copies of a variety of important books. This program equips aspiring changemakers with key knowledge in a number of different disciplines including history, community engagement, education, children’s development, and more. Find the book that will inspire you here.