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What’s So Important About Storytelling?

By Alexis Schroeder

Every now and then someone asks me where I think NPi is in terms of its long-term development. The short answer is: We don’t have money yet, but we do have a strong business plan and some pretty fantastic partners. We’ve been producing work for a while. Our website does the job, but it could be better. We’re getting there.

The longer answer is that I’m not sure how it’s all going to come together, where the initial start up funding will come from, but for some reason I have no doubt it’s going to happen. Meaning, soon enough NPi will be up and running with some financial resources behind it. My co-founder and I will be able to work for NPi at least near to full-time and also pay our contributors for the good work they do. And in the meantime we’ll continue to collect stories, produce media, and host community dialogues. We’ll do our best to find investors, financial advisors, and other team members to help us on the business development side. We’ll continue to grow the organization the same way we always have—by being honest about what we seek to do and why we think it’s of value, listening to the advice of people who have founded businesses/organizations of their own, and asking questions.

One question I’ve been asking myself lately (the answer to which I think we need to communicate better) is, “Why invest in NPi?” Of course this is directly related to NPi’s development and in the short-term, just our ability to continue doing the work.

To answer this question, I have to go back to one of NPi’s earliest conversations. In the context of a larger discussion about poverty and the social service sector, one of us asked the simple and not-so-simple question, “What does a person need to thrive?” And then we sat there and brainstormed a list (including, but not limited to the following):

  • living wage job
  • healthcare (both mental and physical)
  • quality education
  • safe and stable home environment
  • access to nutritious food and water
  • sense of community
  • mentors
  • play and joy

Take one of these things out of the equation—especially one of the big ones like a living wage job, healthcare, or education—and all of a sudden it becomes pretty hard for a person to just get by day-to-day, let alone “thrive.” In essence, what we seek to do at NPi is tell the stories and share the knowledge of people and organizations that understand this principle and demonstrate this in the work that they do. Some people call it “holism.” Others say, “It’s all connected.” At core though, it’s the same idea.

So why invest in a media organization that tells stories? Because millions of people in America and across the globe are missing more than a few of these key pieces of the puzzle necessary for living a prosperous life. When faced with severe poverty, this realization can feel pretty crippling. But the good news is that human beings are remarkably resilient, and every day people are improving upon existing systems and creating new systems to address these issues.

At NPi, we believe storytelling and knowledge sharing, both online and on the ground, is a major part of the solution. Storytelling enables learning and dialogue and helps to build and strengthen networks, thereby speeding up the process by which people, organizations, and systems improve the world we live in.

Everyone deserves a fair shot at living a healthful, prosperous life. In cities and towns all across the country, in major international cities and rural villages, people are doing incredible work to make sure everyone gets one. These are stories that must be told.

Image courtesy of psyberartist, Flickr Creative Commons

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