Narrative and Community Power in California

In the movement landscape of California, all of our social justice efforts have a compelling story and case to make, whether we work on climate justice, gender equality, racial justice, reducing economic inequality, disability rights, immigration reform, or any other area requiring our attention to issues of marginalization. Often, however, we are missing opportunities to advance a coherent narrative around the big ideas that underlie all of these causes. As each is mastering a corner of the public discourse, it is making it harder to achieve any single major victory. While we may need to specialize our efforts and expertise, we must also find the common ground-and levers—that will lift all of our efforts. A more coherent “meta-narrative” could give us an avenue to create stronger ties across distinct but interconnected campaigns, communities, and movements. The grounding for this type of effort is particularly fertile in California, where there is a critical mass of progressive officials, powerful community-based organizations, and advocates, a mature California identity rooted in its diversity, and a prosperous and growing economy. 

Recognizing this need, the Haas Institute, California Calls, PICO-California, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, and a network of partners have embarked on a process to develop and put into practice a California meta-narrative. The outcomes will be a narrative that deeply reflects our communities and powerfully moves us toward a transformed California, as well as tools and lessons learned for developing communications, leadership development, and field materials based on the narrative. Creating the backdrop against which we chart pathways and make strategic decisions is a huge undertaking but is one we hold up as a worthy shared purpose.