Pluribus Project Narrative Collaboratory Selects Eight Winning Projects

Diverse national range of projects to spread storylines of citizen power

Our nation’s founders envisioned a republic in which the people would be the ultimate source of power. However, a pervasive cultural narrative – across the right and the left – tells Americans it is pointless to participate in civic life because the game is rigged and their voices just don’t matter. It’s time to counter this dominant negative narrative and to displace it with a storyline of citizen empowerment, so that Americans can begin to see that change is possible and how to become a part of it.

The reality is that many Americans in communities across the country are finding ways to come together and create real change. They may be a minority, but they are not uncommon and they are still noticeably absent from the mainstream conversation.

That’s why we created the Narrative Collaboratory, a platform for generating and propagating new narratives of citizen voice and efficacy, coupled with the tools of power and action that others can use. Think of it as a venture platform to seed experiments in media, storytelling, organizing, and experience design.

We issued an open call for proposals for projects that creatively and effectively spread narratives of citizen power, and received more than 230 proposals in response. Today, after extensive consultation and analysis, we are thrilled to announce our winners. We are supporting the following projects with grants to each in the amount of $25,000:

First Book, the American Federation of Teachers, and the Albert Shanker Institute for a Citizen Power Challenge to support educators in 15 communities across the United States to curate diverse book collections that can spark student-led projects for community change.

Free the People for a transpartisan video project to tell the story of how individuals self-organized, bypassed government, and created social change.

Futuro Media Group to produce videos in their “Humanizing America” series and a corresponding digital event in talk show format. “Humanizing America” is a digital short series, which deconstructs stereotypes by presenting the human stories behind the American electorate and beyond.

NationSwell for its “AllStar Program,” a campaign to support the greatest innovators who are tackling some of our nation’s most critical issues, and to spur civic engagement by providing clear and compelling calls-to-action.

PICO National Network for “Flint Rising,” an organizing project to provide residents the opportunity to find a collective narrative through individual stories that speak to the complexity of Flint’s water crisis and its impact on the people of Flint. They will use stories build community power in a sustainable way.

Springboard for the Arts in partnership with the Citizens League for “Calling Home”, a year-long initiative to inspire, support, and document conversations among Minnesotans about aging through the lens of home and community to ultimately inform policy priorities.

The Public Theater for a new American play to be announced soon, and a corresponding audience engagement program that inspires action.

Upworthy for a series of highly shareable multimedia stories that use a combination of text, video, and images to address both the need for civic engagement beyond voting, and the insufficient understanding of US history. Each video will be connected to an action that audience members can take.

Congratulations to our winners, and thank you to all of the incredible civic leaders who submitted proposals. Ultimately, we believe that with a sense of collective purpose, some trial and error, and the ingenuity of the many (that’s you), there is real opportunity right now to reinvent our civic reality, and to help create a more representative and responsive democracy.

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