Why is telling stories important to community organising?

Why is telling stories important to community organising?

An individual has both a private and public aspect to who they are. The stories we seek are not your private ones, nor are we in your public stories that are detached from your values, passions and history - from who you are. 

Today, the reality is that people are very isolated from each other and our organisations are also isolated.  The isolation presents a problem when people face pressures and challenges.  They are left alone to interpret the pressures. 


In our context stories are an important part of our work as they can reveal that our private pressures are actually systemic. Your personal story, shared through a table talk, may help other people recognise that their problems can be improved in a way that helps everyone.

The hospital parking issue we have won in North Brisbane is a great example of private stories of pain - the burden of high parking cost for chronically ill people - was shared by so many and also impacted congestion for locals that it became the issue the community chose to organise around.

The stories we are looking for happen are at the intersection between public and private—the place where the things that matter to you the most are, that have a public dimension.

When we don’t make the connection between public and private, we are bound to interpret our problems as signs of personal failure.

It is in the intersection between our private lives and our public lives that Queensland’s issues become our personal concerns. For instance:

  • Where a ‘housing crisis’ becomes my personal pressure if I am struggling to pay my rent or mortgage,
  • Where a ‘transport crisis’ becomes my personal pressure if my 2 hour commute every day means I don’t get to see my kids before they go to sleep.

But we often do not see our issues like this.