Transformational Narrative:
Public Narrative
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STORY OF SELF - STORY OF NOW - STORY OF US

Each person has her own Public Narrative; your story of self is unique, and your stories of us and now are similar to others in your group, though you may express them in your own way. Your Public Narrative may change over time. You may learn how to express your story of self more clearly as you tell it repeatedly; the shifting makeup of your community may suggest a change in the story of us; or maybe the group takes on a new, urgent challenge that requires a different story of now. Ganz writes that you don’t produce a final “script” of your Public Narrative but rather learn a process “by which you can generate that narrative over and over and over again when, where, and how you need to.”
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Each person has her own Public Narrative; your story of self is unique, and your stories of us and now are similar to others in your group, though you may express them in your own way. Your Public Narrative may change over time. You may learn how to express your story of self more clearly as you tell it repeatedly; the shifting makeup of your community may suggest a change in the story of us; or maybe the group takes on a new, urgent challenge that requires a different story of now. Ganz writes that you don’t produce a final “script” of your Public Narrative but rather learn a process “by which you can generate that narrative over and over and over again when, where, and how you need to.”
Public narrative is central to movement building, organizing and advocacy. It’s an articulation of the challenge, of the sources of hope, and of a pathway to action required to realize that hope; a response to those three questions posed by first century Jerusalem scholar, Rabbi Hillel: If I am not of myself, who will be for me? If I am for myself alone, what am I? If not now, when? A story of self, a story of us, and a story of now.
The core of a story is a plot, a moment of choice in which a protagonist is confronted by a challenge for which he or she is not prepared, but which he or she must nevertheless face, the outcome of which we take away as the “moral.” Why do we pay attention? Because it is in plot moments that we most fully experience the gift of agency as human beings – moments of real anxiety, to be sure, but also of exhilaration — when our choices matter most, but we are least prepared to make them. And because we identify empathetically with the protagonist, we not only “understand” the dilemma with our heads, but we experience the dilemma in our hearts. This is why our families, faith traditions, cultural traditions, organizations, movements and communities all teach through story.
The purpose of the Story of Self is to understand why you care about a certain issue. Through your Story of Self, you will be able to share the core values that move you and the calling that guides your purpose.
Story of Self: What calls you to this work? The story of self recounts a personal journey. It should capture what Ganz calls “choice points”: the essential experiences that led you to this point in time. This story is not a summary of a resume; rather, it’s a vivid series of anecdotes that paint a picture of what you believe and how you came to believe it.

Story of Us: What values define your community? While the first story tells the story of your identity, this story locates you in a collective identity. “Community” could mean many things, but for educators it is most often our schools or learning organizations. What are the choice points that define the community where you work? How do those experiences shape what your community believes and the impact it wants to make?

Story of Now: What is happening beyond our community that calls us to action? This third element gives a public narrative a sense of urgency. If the purpose of school is to prepare students for the world beyond it, then the story of now should reveal the challenges and opportunities your students will face, and, then, how you and your community are suited to help students meet them.
Public narrative is a leadership art. Leaders draw on narrative to inspire action across cultures, faiths, professions, classes, and eras.

A story of self communicates who I am – my values, my experience, why I do what I do.

A story of us communicates who we are – our shared values, our shared experience, and why we do what we do.

A story of now transforms the present into a moment of challenge, hope, and choice.
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