Monday, September 23, 2013

The Power of Personal Voice: Storytelling, Strategy Selection and Policy Influence

In today’s policy environment, using local data to bolster arguments is a key way that advocates can influence change. Neighborhood residents and providers alike have access to micro-level data that can be used to assess the impact and effectiveness of public policies and document unmet needs. In this case, “micro-level” data relates not only to facts and figures generated by local information systems but also to resident engagement efforts that can help to uncover “the story behind the data.”

In the Building Neighborhood Capacity Program (BNCP), grantees are working to establish quantitative indicators and gather baseline data that will help them track progress toward their intended results. In concert with these efforts, grantees are also prompted to generate and examine more qualitative information, focusing on questions such as:
  • What do residents know about the root causes of the issues they want to address? 
  • Are certain streets or parts of the neighborhood more challenged than others? 
  • Are there policies or regulations that either assist or challenge change agents in their efforts?
Tools that the BNCP neighborhoods are using to uncover the story behind the data include everything from neighborhood surveys to group visioning exercises. Once these stories have been harvested, they become part of the evidence base that will guide strategy selection.

Stories can serve manifold purposes, and in addition to informing direct action in communities, they can also lift up the voices of individuals and stakeholder groups. With digital tools, these stories can have an impact beyond the borders of an immediate community to influence decision-makers at the local, state and national levels.

For instance, Half in Ten and the Coalition on Human Needs recently launched Our American Story: A Storyteller Action Network, where participants are invited to submit stories about the impact of public services and investments on their access to economic opportunity. In Recipes for Rising Neighborhoods, the United Neighborhood Centers of America and the Alliance for Children and Families include additional tools for collecting stories at the neighborhood level.

The interaction between resident engagement, data analysis, communications and policy influence illustrates the interdependence of the different capacities that are essential to neighborhood revitalization. For more information about capacity building, including stories about the BNCP neighborhoods, we invite you to visit the Building Neighborhood Capacity Resource Center.

No comments:

Post a Comment