Growing the Work 7/13/23

I’m thinking A LOT about how deep listening and brave spaces are rare and how much better we would feel if we could bring our whole selves to our work and our lives. We can get really good at self-editing and before you know it – it becomes ingrained. We get good at what we practice.


You might have just built yourself a mask for self protection. This is useful but there’s is a cost.


When you find yourself telling the truth in a City Council meeting, your community behind you. That’s the brave realness I’m talking about. That’s what supporters of the New London People’s Budget did.

How can we each create space for each other to be ourselves? How can telling the truth and deep listening be part of this? Being shoulder to shoulder in the work is a start. If we all do it together new norms get built.


This thinking is fueling dreams of building my storytelling work.


For example, I would love to partner with granting organizations to tell the stories of their grantees. Specifically around work that is forwarding equity. How much better would it be to share a story rather than file a report? 🙂

Storytelling is not new. Storytelling is underutilized as a way to foster connection, partnership, and community.

What can making a story do that a report generally does not do?

1. A well facilitated recording session makes grantees feel heard. When I record, I sit with individuals and teams for about 90 minutes to 2 hours. I listen and ask questions to better understand. Our talks meander. Sometimes people give voice to struggles or successes that the whole team did not know about. Sometimes beautiful ideas are created. The stakes of why the work must be done always emerge.

2. It is a partnership strategy. Instead of requiring work to submit information in written form – it is a creative outlet that results in a product that grantees can use with community members, their boards, and possible new funders. For example, a piece that I made about food justice that featured the group, FRESH New London, is being shared with the Connecticut Food Policy Council prior to a site visit.

3. It makes a grant portfolio come alive. Each grantees story provides important details on why an entire portfolio matters and would would be lost if it wasn’t there.

4. It can support relationships with local media. For example, the stories that I have made have been featured on WPKN 89.5 FM. It is an independent radio station and the show, Mic Check, that I have been contributing to elevates local and national work done by activists and others pursuing equity.

5. It’s fun! I would not still be doing this work as a volunteer if it made storytellers feel bad.


Are you a funder or a grantee? What do you think about this idea?