Know Yourself

The stories we tell reflect who we are, what we believe and the futures we envision. We can’t tell a story without knowing ourselves.

Identity

Be honest about who you are. Be bold in what you aspire to become.

A movement is like an ecosystem. Every activist fills a niche, contributing to the strength and resilience of the whole. Each of us has our talents. Each of us has access to different communities and resources. Each of us has something to give and a story to tell.

Whether you’re a regional office coordinating campaigns that cross national borders or a neighborhood organization taking on a local polluter, the first step toward making change is knowing who you are.

These two exercises below will help you think about your identity, and what stories your identity uniquely positions you to tell. They will also provide you with opportunities to consider how this identity might be finessed and broadened so that you can tell new stories that connect with new audiences.

Exercises


Values

The beliefs we hold dear and our motivations are those that propel us forward.

Think of an issue that you care about. Now think about why you care about it. Does it speak to your sense of justice? Your love of community? Your spark to create and innovate? Your passion for human rights? That why—the reason that you are about the things you care about—says something about your values.

There is immense power in these values, and in knowing how to communicate them. Values transcend individual issues, and can transform an “I” into a shared “we.” Learning to articulate your values can broaden your reach. Few people know the ins and outs of climate policy, water rights, deforestation or the solutions you’re advocating. But many, many people care about fairness, equality and a cleaner, safer world for their children.

This exercise will help you to discover the deeper values underlying your specific issues, and to find ways to weave those values into the stories you tell your communities.

Exercise


Share a Compelling Vision

It’s often tempting for activists to define ourselves by what we’re against rather than what we’re for. There’s so much that needs fixing, after all! Just as important, though, is being clear about the world we want, what we’re working towards. If we want to convince our communities to walk with us, we must be able to describe what it is we’re walking towards and inspire them to act with us.

Paint tomorrow in vivid colors.

This exercise will help you put your vision to words, and to draw connections between the issues that you’re working on and the future you want to build.

Exercise