#152) Story Circles Celebrates 50 Circles!

Four years, 50 circles with lots more running and scheduled.  It’s getting to be time for some metrics for our Story Circles Narrative Training.   Here’s our log of the circles.

FIFTY AND COUNTING.  Completed circles are in black, circles currently running are red, upcoming circles are blue.

 

COMING SOON, TO A CITY NEAR YOU!

In the past month we’ve had three Demo Days — USDA, USFWS, ESA — each one just as interesting and fun as the last.  Demo Days end up being like a mini-symposium on the power, importance and ubiquity of narrative structure.  

The Demo Days give rise to the actual work — the Story Circles where 5 participants meet for the 10 one hour sessions.  The circles should take 2.5 months to complete if they go weekly, but for a session to meet all five participants must be present.  Which means lots of postponements.  Some circles have taken up to 10 months to finish.

Originally this concerned us — what if participants lost interest and quit.  But to our surprise and delight, that simply doesn’t happen.  To date every circle has gone the distance — none have been abandoned.  Something seems to happen once people get involved.  They feel, not just an obligation to the group, but also a desire to complete the ten sessions.  Some circles have even continued to meet after completing the sessions, serving as a sort of narrative workshopping group. 

There’s lots more Demo Days scheduled for the new year, including NIH in February and USDA in March.  All this, and we’ve yet to take out one advertisement.  Nor has the media written anything about the training, which seemed like a concern at first, but now who cares, it’s working.   

#146) Desperate Times Call for Desperate Narrative Structure, on the Front Page of the NY Times

We showed a couple years ago that the front page of the NY Times averages a little under 2 “But Paragraphs” (paragraphs that start with the word BUT) on any given day.  But … today’s paper has 3 stories above the fold, all 3 are about the Kavanaugh hearing, and all 3 have a But Paragraph.  Might seem trivial.  It’s not.  There’s a correlation.

Three stories on the Kavanaugh hearing.  Three paragraphs starting with the word BUT.  The average is 2.   A coincidence?   I think not.

 

CRANKING UP THE NARRATIVE TENSION

“But” is a strong word.  When I did a Story Circles workshop with 15 diplomats from the U.S. State Department they told me they are taught to not even use the word.  It’s not a good word for delicate, diplomatic negotiations.  BUT … when the nation is gripped with drama, you can bet the newspaper of record is not about to go lightly with the reporting.  

That’s what you see in today’s NY Times.  Three But Paragraphs above the fold, none below.  All of them are stories about the drama of the day — the Kavanaugh hearing.  It’s clearly a time for drama, and BUT is the word for the job.