In New York City, downtown near Wall Street, sits the iconic sculpture "Charging Bull.” The sculptor, Arturo Di Modica, has said that his sculpture symbolizes “freedom in the world, peace, strength, power and love." And maybe that's how people saw it, at least until the new statue "Fearless Girl" was placed in a face off with the much larger animal. Now, people may see a girl that symbolizes the power of women's leadership and the bull as a symbol of the menace of Wall Street predators.
Di Modica is demanding that the city remove "Fearless Girl" because he says it subverts his intent and even infringes on his copyright.
I was thinking about this situation as it relates to nonprofit storytelling. Our stories live in context, not in a vacuum. Whether we mean the story one way or another, our audience will place it into the context of current events, their prejudices and the shifting meaning of cultural symbols. We need to understand this context in order to tell stories that have impact. And to do that, we need to know a lot about our audience, their values and the ways in which they see the world. We can then tell stories which build upon their lived experiences, which confirm their values and show them how their life can have more meaning through our organization’s causes.
See3 is your guide to this kind of work. Our job is to facilitate this discovery and to help you design storytelling that activates and inspires audiences. Ask me more about how we can help your organization tell the right kinds of stories to the right kinds of audiences.