How will the children and families in Detroit tell the story of 2020?
Historically, storytelling is the oldest form of communication, the oldest form of preserving knowledge, and the oldest way to transform diverse life experiences into useful teachings.
Many of the stories that come to define us are found within “choice points” or critical moments when facing a challenge, deciding, experiencing an outcome, and learning something. The beauty behind each of our stories is more profound than the make-up of race, gender, zip code, or other demographics, but rather, the personal journeys and unique walks of life with which each of us can teach, inspire, and offer hope.
Each of our personal stories become a part of our collective story or identity. Various points of view are assets to be respected and can help surface deeply rooted inequities and problems in our systems that need to be addressed. This question of how our families will tell their story of 2020 surfaces often as we consider the number of impossible challenges and choices our communities faced this year; But perhaps the bigger question is…
Who is telling their stories or, better yet, who’s listening?
As a connector of early childhood efforts in Detroit to mobilize a citywide commitment to support our youngest children and families, Hope Starts Here believes in the collective. We educate and inform who we are and what we do through collective advocacy and coordination. Our commitment to telling the story of our impact is sewn into the foundation of our improvement practices. We understand that we cannot change what we do not measure and that data without stories do not compel us to see the humanity inherent in the families we serve.
“Nobody ever marched on Washington because of a pie chart.”
-Andy Goodman, consultant, The Goodman Center
Because data alone does not provide enough context to understand the forces contributing to or restricting progress entirely, good measurement work starts with listening. Our experiences are the bridge between the measures we track and the results we set. We must prioritize listening to our Detroiters’ experiences, values, hopes, feelings, pains, and passions because their stories, their choice points, reveal the soul behind Detroit’s future.
As we continue our journey toward measurable impact for our children and families, we have to remember the art of storytelling. Shifting Detroit’s collective narrative will mean amplifying all of our new beginnings, testimonies, and victories, no matter how small. So take time this month to listen and share; our stories are enhanced simply by the telling of it.
– Jeremiah, on behalf of Team Hope