Healthy NRV Youth Ambassadors and Conversation NRV Conveners – March 27th

On Thursday, March 27th, join community leaders young and old to learn about how storytelling and convening have shaped movements in our community to tackle tough issues.  These movements have connected different and separate parts of the community around problems we must face if we are to become stronger more resilient communities.  Healthy NRV Youth Ambassadors will join Conversation NRV Conveners to share in presenting “Creating Space for Communities of Change.” Their talk will be at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 27th at the Lyric Theatre in Blacksburg. Admission is free.

In today’s complex world, community members deal with massive amounts of data and information coming from a multitude of media sources.  The torrent of data, the numbers and statistics about healthcare, the economy, social and political issues, as important to everyone’s well-being as they are, simply become so much noise, distant, abstract and avoided.  How to make sense of the information so that communities can respond and take corrective action?

Healthy NRV students at Virginia Tech where they learned the art and technology of digital storytelling. The Institute for Policy and Governance secured grant support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to organize the intensive workshops for New River Valley high school students. The workshops enabled each student to produce a personal, digital story. Several of the students will speak at Community Voices and share their digital stories.

The Healthy NRV Ambassadors and the Conversation NRV Conveners have found a way, a step in the direction of informed action.  That step is about individual community members telling their stories about an issue of community importance in personal terms.  Instead of simply citing data about drug use, for example, a Youth Ambassador tells her personal story of a friend she loses to meth addiction. Her story told in her own voice moves us.  Connecting data to a story is the key to social movement within our community. By creating an opportunity for personal sharing and storytelling, we can make it possible for people to truly claim their voice around issues that matter to them.  Programs and initiatives that promote storytelling help us understand and share who we are as community.

An example of this is The Healthy NRV program that supported the development of stories about community health issues told by by young people in our community.  The teens were empowered to build and share their own story and to create a digital video to share within their community and to promote their ideas for change. They became community health ambassadors with not only the ability to grasp the complexities of what impacts health in their community, but also the compassion and hopefulness to ask important questions and offer promising insights for action.

Conversation NRV team plans the March 22 event that brings together a broad cross section of the community, conservatives and liberals. The gathering will develop ways of opening mutually respectful conversation between community members who hold very different points of view. Team members will share their experiences with the Community Voices audience.

Another example is Conversation NRV that is hosting a conversation and story sharing event on March 22nd for community members representing very different social and political perspectives.  Conversation NRV seeks to promote and facilitate listening and understanding among people of differing views and values around the complexities of issues like poverty.  Where do personal and governmental responsibility begin and end?  The agenda is mutual understanding, not an attempt to change minds.

Both groups find that stories are the shortest distance between two people. Stories are ubiquitous forms of communication and when the teller and listener are truly engaged, they are an important, effective unit of social change.  This rings true in the New River Valley and in the world – for people of all walks of life, political perspective and age.

Community Voices speakers are engaged in fostering work that strengthens community.  Their leadership includes the capacity to speak cogently and concisely about their experiences, to tell stories, sometimes using multi- media tools to perform in ways that are revealing of their work; and, to present ideas for change, ideas that matter.  The Healthy NRV Ambassadors will share some of their digital stories with the audience.

For additional information concerning this event or Community Voices, please contact Andy Morikawa with the Virginia Tech Institute for Policy and Governance at 540-231-6775.

Sponsor of the Community Voices Series is the Virginia Tech Institute for Policy and Governance.


For additional information concerning this event or Community Voices in general, please contact Andy Morikawa with the Virginia Tech Institute for Policy & Governance at 540.231.6775

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