Weeknotes 2 — The stories we tell

Week commencing 8th February.

Quote from the I Am. We Are. team as part of the story telling session

This week has had a strong theme centred on story telling. A reflection I have is that story telling requires a wide range of skills and people to develop rich and deep narratives. Stories are shaped by imagination, experience, perspectives, listening, humour, grief, observation, feeling and so much more.

One thing I’m realising is that stories take time…to tell…to listen to…to reach us. In times where it feels we have no time I hope we do not lose the stories we need to tell and want to tell.

What I’ve been working on:

  • Joined I Am. We Are. for their first evening story telling session which brought together people from various non-profits across the sector areas within Beyond. I was reminded how story telling creates a different type of connection which transcends the online space.
  • Took part, along with other DOT PROJECT members, in some Knowledge Cafe mentoring from David Gurteen. This was an opportunity to reflect on the light structures that are needed to create knowledge cafes whilst recognising the bravery it takes as a facilitator to hold open spaces allowing topics and perspectives to emerge.
  • Talked to Rachel at Citizens Advice about developing a Theory of Change. I spent much of my early career supporting communities to develop theories of change. On the one hand I like them as a way to provide compass and create an idea of collective directions (particularly when they truly represent community (not just organisational) goals. On the other hand I dislike them when they do not live and breathe and exist on paper as a tool to share with funders to achieve funding goals. Really enjoyed meeting Rachels team and interested to see where their journey goes.

What’s gone well:

  • Seems like we are hitting a groove with Beyond activities which I feel proud of given the team is new and we’ve never had the opportunity to meet in person. Learning a lot about how to create online spaces in which people feel comfortable and included.
  • Started a conversation this week with Naomi Korn Associates with whom we hope to work more regularly as partners — it feels like we naturally have shared values and beliefs which makes early stage partnership conversations feel different (in a good way!)

What’s been challenging:

  • Proposal writing for opportunities where the briefs are very prescriptive but we feel could be approached differently and provide more value. Also for opportunities where there is no defined brief and we are writing a short proposal for speculative activities. Funding in the civil society space is very tricky to navigate!
  • Really finding it hard to live comfortably with not doing things to a standard which I would usually. I realise that I am doing my best, and it’s a conversation with myself around what ‘best’ looks like in times of a pandemic.

What I’m thinking about:

  • How to make time for story telling — within DOT PROJECT but also in different spaces including community initiatives I’m starting to get involved with in Madrid.
  • Curious to see what emerges from upcoming roundtables which Helen is facilitating next week in the sexual abuse and domestic violence and mental health sectors. These will incorporate aspects of the knowledge cafe approaches and be a timely reflection on how sector challenges are changing (in comparison to what emerged in October/November).