United Story

Story-based interventions to help communities problem-solve social issues.

Project Info

U/S partners with communities to champion their stories as the way to address social topics that matter to them.

United Story (U/S) is an evidence-based social initiative that mobilizes communities toward social action through story-based workshops, events, and projects.

Check out the full project.
Client: United Story
Date: 2015-12-31
Services: Branding, Programming, Tool Development, Project Management

Brief

How might we help communities harness the power of their stories to innovate and actualize authentic ideas that address issues in their communities? 

Through collecting narratives surrounding a social concern, inspiring art from these narratives, and gathering the community together to hear, see, and interact with these stories, United Story fosters community-owned action in the form of solutions generated in on-the-spot community innovation labs. Rather than creating yet another new “project,” United Story facilitates the organization of stories and the catalyzing of story-based solutions.

Key outputs of United Story included:

  • Monthly U/S story slams and community gatherings
  • Door-to-door story conversations with residents of Ferguson, MO
  • Story exchange projects amongst students
  • Interactive media projects and public interventions
  • United Story Summit (2015)

Challenge

The civic challenges that many American cities face share a deeply rooted history of residential, cultural, and social division. Class, race, and educational differences foster environments where violence, inequality, and discrimination persist. 

Key offerings that the St. Louis Metro Market would provide included:

  • Mobile food-to-table solution for food deserts
  • Food demonstrations for healthy meal planning
  • Affordable produce and prepared meals
  • Acceptance of SNAP benefits
  • Corporate subsidization to keep costs low

United Story Summit

The United Story Summit bridges narratives and perspectives across communities to create innovative approaches to social and civic topics that concern them.

After a year-long series of engagements with digital stories and narrative projects regarding race and social justice issues within the United States, the 2015 U/S Summit culminated to provide interactive space for participants to experience the stories, fuse ideas, and produce collaborative solutions to the social prompt:

“How we might more effectively evoke a greater understanding of and response to the race and social justice challenges that have emerged over the past year?”

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On the first day of the two-day Summit, audiences inspired each other by contributing to a community-based interactive storytelling exhibit, featuring video art, poetic performances, live story-slamming, and visual projects by artists who have responded to social justice issues in the region and across the nation.

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The second day of the U/S Summit gathered attendees for extended engagement in an ideation lab inspired by the Summit’s theme and the topics, challenges, and opportunities exhibited in the previous night. Participants joined together with speakers and experts to co-develop community-created action projects ideas and bring them to life! Through community vote, two ideas received micro-grants and incubative support from the Summit’s partners.