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Medium 9781523094189

4 Story

Whitman, Gordon Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Getting started on change isn’t hard. If you’re frustrated about what you see happening in the world or your community or workplace, go out and talk to another person. Share your story. Hear that person’s. Talk about what both of you care about. Explain the source of your anger. Build a relationship. Storytelling may seem like a distraction from the real work of politics, but it grounds all social change because stories are how humans make sense of the world. We use them to communicate our values, what we care enough about to act on and even risk our lives to achieve. Four important results happen in organizing when we start with story.

First, we experience a small taste of the world that we’re struggling to bring into existence. When I listen to your story with focus, I communicate that I see you. You matter. You belong. When I tell my own story to another person, or to a thousand people, I assert my humanity. Indeed, this may be the action that is most in my control that gives me dignity.

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Medium 9780253356772

4 A Nameless Genre

Harri Englund Indiana University Press ePub

“A man who works in an Asian’s store in Limbe in Blantyre is said to have made his children drink beer when he did not have money to feed the children.”1 This headline introduced a story about destitution that epitomizes many of the themes and rhetorical devices in Nkhani Zam’maboma. The man was said to live in a particular neighborhood in Ndirande, a township in Limbe’s twin city Blantyre, and his troubles came to a head when the Asian boss failed to pay his salary. Tired of poverty, his wife abandoned him, leaving behind children crying from hunger. Unable to find food in the house, the man went to look for leavings of masese, opaque homemade beer, in the cartons drinkers had thrown away. He returned to give the beer to the children as if it was porridge, with the result that the children became drunk.

Just as the stories involving witchcraft carried allusions to various other issues, so too did this story evoke a range of themes, amenable to further expansion by listeners all too familiar with the hardship and injustice it depicted. It illustrated the thin line separating ordinary poverty from destitution. When listening to it with villagers in Dedza District and migrants in Chinsapo Township, I began to realize how a single story could evoke a range of grievances and reflections among its public. Some listeners in the township would describe their own experiences of employers skipping the payment of salary. Others gave further examples of the arbitrary and exploitative labor conditions in the enterprises owned by the merchant class of South Asian extraction.2 They described workers being locked up to prevent them from taking a break, the rejection of their requests to attend funerals, unexplained deductions taken from salaries. The domestic trouble mentioned in the broadcast story sounded familiar to listeners in both rural and urban settings, the ideal of the man-as-provider and the woman-as-housewife crushed under the weight of poverty. Although the act of giving beer to hungry children was the detail that made this story out of the ordinary, the entire scene it conveyed was at variance with the carefully cultivated image of a nation enjoying the fruits of development in the MBC’s official news bulletins.

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Medium 9781626566682

CHAPTER 3 Teaching the Reality Model

Smith, Hyrum W. Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Just like your body and lifestyle can be healthy or unhealthy, the same is true with your beliefs. Your beliefs can be your medicine or your poison.


I would like to share with you an eye-opening experience that will help you understand how powerful the Reality Model can be. One day I was sitting in my office, which in those days was rare; the phone rang, and it was the US attorney for the district of Utah—which happens to be the entire state of Utah.

“Hyrum,” he said, “I am sick and tired of locking kids up in this state for drug and alcohol abuse. I’ve decided to go to every high school in the state. We are going to put on a big assembly. The Utah Jazz basketball team is willing to send a player with us, and we’re going to talk these kids out of drugs and alcohol. Would you go with us and do a thirty-to forty-minute talk to teach these kids how to get control of their lives?”

I got pretty excited about that. “Let’s go for it,” I said.

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Medium 9781574414509

Chapter 22: “Throw Up Your Hands”

Paul Lee Johnson University of North Texas Press PDF


“Throw Up Your Hands”

That same Monday evening Milt Hicks broke out of jail, and with him were Charles “Yank” Thompson and Jim Sharpe. Billy Soule, the jailor, left the jail under the supervision of the keeper, Charles Mason. A “trusty” came to empty slops from the cell where they were housed, but when Mason opened the cell door, he was jumped by Sharpe and held there while Hicks and

Thompson ran out. According to Mason: “As the boy went in Sharpe caught me by the coat and said: ‘We have been in here for some time, come in and try it yourself awhile.’ When I was struggling to get away from him Hicks and

‘Yank’ stepped outside the door.” Mason and Sharpe struggled some more during which time Sharpe nearly succeeded in closing the cell door. Before he could, Mason threw the large padlock at Sharpe’s face, cutting him on the cheek. The enraged Sharpe tried clamping the door on Mason’s extended arm

“and would have done so, probably breaking my arm, which was between the iron door and the jam, but for the assistance of Jerry Barton, who helped me all he could.” 1

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Medium 9781576751701

1 Question Wasteful Practices

Gordon, Pamela J. Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

The groundswell associated with the environment is changing industry. Employees who completed school 10 and fewer years ago ask their managers, “Why are we doing such and such a thing?” They’re bringing in waste-reduction ideas.

—Ian McKeown, senior engineer
of Health, Safety, and Environment, Polaroid

THIS chapter focuses on the first of the four Lean and Green steps: Question wasteful practices, and design Lean and Green steps to benefit profit and planet. Get people in your organization to think creatively to arrive at Lean and Green solutions; for the most dramatic benefits, encourage them especially to think about steps before waste is created. Many of the Lean and Green companies’ best ideas for cost savings and environmental good come from employees without “environment” or “manager” anywhere in their titles. Let your creativity soar. Your idea could save money, trees, or likely both.

One of the reasons I wrote this book is to make more people aware of the tremendous impact organizations can have on the planet and its inhabitants’ health—both positively and negatively. Think about this: You and I can reduce waste at home and recycle our newspapers, cans, bottles, and paper. In fact, doing so happens to be my favorite household chore because I know that these items will not contribute to local landfills, which in my community are filling up the beautiful San Francisco Bay. Yet you and I can reduce the use of landfills and incinerators in several communities—perhaps around the world—when we create waste-reduction strategies for our organizations. This truly is a faster and more effective way to curb and reverse the trend on our planet to waste more and more resources.

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