The Power of Stories

Stories are universally important to how we communicate. We use them to teach lessons, to keep culture and traditions alive, and to share experiences.


Every community has a shared story but what happens when this story doesn’t have a happy ending? How can we help our communities re-write their narrative?


“We’re increasingly seeing struggling towns harness the power of narrative to imagine – and create – new realities. These stories are strategically crafted and provide a way to embed common values and visions”

– Angela Van Es, Strategy Lead


Take, for example, Manjimup where economic revival has been, in part, driven by the narrative of value placed on Truffles. Or Kurri Kurri where a festival celebrating the Mullet haircut was conceived as a tongue-in-cheek way to create a good news story which would bring people to town. Looking to the U.S, the City of Detroit has taken the bold move of hiring a Chief Storyteller.


Mulletfest contestants await judging at the pub. Picture: AFP/Peter ParksSource:AFP


Weaving Stories to Build Possibilities


Creating Communities has a 25-year history of working with communities to weave new stories.


“It’s a subversive process. Communities become conscious of the sometimes-unintentional negative narratives that drive them, to become intentional in shifting to aspirational and inclusive narratives which spark new possibilities and promote wellness.”

– Donna Shepherd, Managing Director.


This approach has resulted in hundreds of community and economy building initiatives such as the Brighton Youth Training Shed, the Ngulla Nursery Social Enterprise, the Broome Makers initiative, and the Make Hedland Home movement.



The Narrative Economy


The narrative economy is a concept explored by University of Western Australia Doctorate Adele Millard who suggests that “narratives are intangible assets because their values cannot be quantified”.


Adele highlights that “the narrative economy is the trade of stories that ascribe value, meanings and points-of- difference to assets.”


In a community development context, this reflects an asset-based approach which encourages communities to celebrate and build on strengths instead of focus on deficits.


The Creating Communities Approach


Our Creating Communities Conceptualise Model© shows the importance of gaining a deep understanding of community strengths through data and engagement, working with community to conceptualise the possibility, and harnessing local insight into what is required to make this possibility a reality.


This process helps to define a narrative which is continuously embedded through relationships and actions for authentic change.