Crafting a Narrative: A Story about Stories

Whew! This has been a busy week to be sure, as we are now in the thick of the summer Junior Docent program and the ball is rolling. I believe it is rolling in the right direction, but we will find out shortly!

Before I get started into this post, first things first. We have a group picture! Yay!

Me and my JDs!

Me and my JDs!

We hear a great deal in the nonprofit world about the importance of being able to tell our story. It is a line I have heard over and over again this past year of my studies, and I always tended to brush it off thinking “well, sure, I guess…”. I didn’t quite get it, but after this week I am truly understanding the depth needed in an organization’s story and the importance of being able to tell your story effectively. One of a nonprofit’s most important (if not the most important) assets is its story. It’s what makes an organization unique, and this story is what is used to gain buy-in from the community (Literally. We use them all the time when seeking funding). It seems today that everything about stories, especially effective telling of stories is an extremely valuable, but often overlooked skill. Stories are all around us and we encounter stories daily. Take Facebook for example. Your Facebook is your personal narrative. Everything you add becomes part of the story that you tell and present to the world. Storytelling is nothing new to us, but there is an art behind it that takes practice to ensure that this is done well.

Everything, and I truly mean EVERYTHING that I have done this week, whether the storytelling was intentional or unintentional, has been coming back to the concept of the story and how we tell it. On our Family Day this past Sunday, I was interviewed by Channel 6 news about the importance of our Family Days, and I had to explain the short story behind the significance of us offering this free admission day to the Columbus Community (next one is August 2nd in case you’re curious). Tuesday with my Junior Docents was spent creating stories about some of the pieces that we have on display at the Collection. I gave them free reign to come up with their own story about what was happening in a piece or create a story about how or why it might have been created. They loved this exercise! From there, I started preparing them to give their first “mini-tour” of one painting. This is a process that requires looking at the artwork, gathering their own questions, and anticipating questions that tour groups might ask. From there, the JDs use the resources of our artist files and books in our library to gather the information that they will need and then put together a story about the piece to tell their tour group. We literally have stories hanging on our walls here at the Collection. Wednesday, they had a chance to present their stories on their mini-tour of their pieces to their COWIC supervisors. The COWIC team was very helpful and talked with the kids about the importance of presenting information about yourself and being able to talk about yourself and (tell stories) to a group of people, which happens often when interviewing for a job. Additionally, the JDs watched a series of videos that told the story of Ron Pizzuti and the Pizzuti Collection. With this information, they are beginning to create their own versions of the Pizzuti Collection story that they will be able to use when giving their tours.

Additionally, on my personal work load has been crafting a narrative for a grant, working alongside my colleagues to create a written document to present to a foundation to seek funding to support our educational programming. This story has been extremely challenging due to a word limit in the application, so conciseness is key (which I’m sure you can tell is not one of my strongest skills).

And last but not least, my own story that I just recorded for you and have been recording for you here is my narrative of my experience this summer. I will likely use these stories in the future, whether it be for more grant writing with this organization, using the story and my experience on a future job interview, and even when I just call my mom every week and catch her up on what is going on. Stories are all around us, and it is up to us to determine which stories are told. It also takes a good storyteller to make sure that a message is relayed effectively. I cannot stress the importance of storytelling enough.

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