Compelling Communities to Action through Climate Storytelling

“Stories are easier to remember – because in many ways, stories are how we remember …when facts become so widely available and instantly accessible, each one becomes less valuable.  What begins to matter more is the ability to place these facts in context and to deliver them with emotional impact.”
– Daniel Pink, A Whole New Mind

ENRTFlogo“Please, tell us a story!” is a daily inquiry that I get from my children, and one that I am happy to deliver on.  A good story is more than an effective communication method.  Stories have the potential to impact us on a deeply personal level, provoke behavior change, simplify complex concepts, and even transcend language and cultural barriers. So, how can storytelling be used as an effective tool to mitigate climate change and build resiliency in communities?  At the Will Steger Foundation, we are excited to explore this question, along with others, as we develop Climate Minnesota: Local Stories, Community Solutions, a two-year project funded through the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund. 

The story of climate change has been told at a national level, but research shows that effective climate change education and behavior change happens when the issue is made local and relevant, thereby resonating with an audience.  Climate Minnesota: Local Stories, Community Solutions will use storytelling to create compelling examples of how climate change has and will impact Minnesota communities.  According to Climatologist, Mark Seeley, “teaching stories has been shown to be an effective approach…Stories touch on people’s emotional intelligence, value systems and community relationships. …Additionally, [this project will help] to build Minnesotan’s confidence and competence in communicating about climate change to their friends, family and community.”

While individual climate stories can be a powerful vehicle to drive change, storytelling alone is not enough.  Moving people to commit to tangible climate change solutions, is a critical step that can shift people from being bystanders to being engaged in creating community resiliency.  Consequently, a key component of Climate Minnesota: Local Stories, Community Solutions will be to inspire peer support groups in local behavior change commitments, provide technical support and reinforcement through community partners.  As we craft our approach to building capacity at the local level through climate narratives from all generations, we are envisioning strong and connected Minnesota communities that are collectively working to build our climate legacy.

Stay tuned for more information and updates on the progress of Climate Minnesota: Local Stories, Community Solutions.

Climate Minnesota: Local Stories, Community Solutions will include the development of 12 statewide public forums, 2-4 educator workshops, and peer support groups designed to engage in behavior change through place-based solutions.  Programming surrounding individual climate stories will be developed through a partnership with Twin Cities Public Television (TPT).  A project evaluator will conduct a thorough evaluation of pre and post behavior change actions as well as follow up.

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