The power of words and the importance of stories
As a community legal centre we play an important role in increasing access to legal help and progressing social justice.
A core principle of our work is that the people and communities are the experts in their own lives. And we must amplify their voices by replacing deficit language with strength-based stories.
Community Legal Centres NSW has produced an excellent and practical guide for community legal centres, Talking Justice.
Talking Justice provides guidance on using language that is respectful and humanising towards the people we support, reflects our values, boosts understanding of community legal centres and your organisation, and builds public support for policy and law reform.
The guide draws from the progressive and values-based messaging of Anat Shenker-Osorio.
If your words don’t spread, by definition, they don’t work. To break a signal through the incessant political noise requires constant repetition. That’s why our messages must persuade the middle while also energising the base.
The team at Southside Justice recently explored impact stories with Vanessa Murray, a writer and journalist. Vanessa helped us create an impact story template (see image below). For Southside Justice, embedding our values is an important part of community lawyering. Working together with the people we support, we can create a positive impact and change.
Vanessa has since refined the workshop she developed for us into two distinct presentation or workshop offerings, one about Impact Storytelling (see this LinkedIn post for more) and the other about Literacy & Accessibility (see this Linked In post for more info).