News & Resources
Source: Shutterstock, Ahmad Aburob, Hands raised in protest
04 Oct 2023
Building narrative power: introducing the Global Narrative Hive
Narratives can create systemic change, but this can only happen when movements themselves hold the knowledge and resources to effectively use narrative strategies and steer collective action.
In 2021 FICS came together with a small number of founding funders to seed an innovative process of co-design: resourcing a group of campaigners, communications workers, organisers and creatives from around the world to identify the infrastructure their movements need to develop narratives that could counter attacks on their civic space and help their visions and ideas to cut through to the mainstream.
A growing number of initiatives and communities around the world are using and developing narrative strategies to challenge harmful norms and advance alternative visions. Philanthropy is also increasingly engaged and investing in this nascent field – from the work of IRIS, the International Resource for Impact and Storytelling, advising on funder strategy, to Nebula, a new pooled fund supporting movements for gender justice and LGBTQI+ rights to expand their narrative power.
In 2019, the Global Philanthropy Project hosted a major convening bringing funders to explore the role of narratives in countering anti-gender ideologies. This was a powerful moment, when the funder community recognised the disconnects in the narratives ecosystem and philanthropy’s role in reinforcing or mitigating these. Investment often focuses on short-term projects; there are more resources for narratives work in the US, UK and Western Europe than elsewhere in the world; there is insufficient investment in infrastructure to connect movement actors with each other and with bodies of knowledge and practitioners engaged in different narrative disciplines.
Over the last two years, FICS has held space for the Connective – an international group of campaigners, communications workers, organisers and creatives – and a small team of organising consultants to engage more than 400 individuals across different countries and parts of civil society in a process to understand and develop solutions to these challenges. What followed was a creative, iterative, experimental process spanning the breadth of this emergent narratives ecosystem – from grassroots and individual activists, through to members of international NGOs and networks, to the narrative and communications workers who collaborate with movements. Creatives and organisers connected with movements for sexual and reproductive health rights, LGBTQIA+ rights, racial justice, climate justice and democratic renewal, among others, took part in conversations and design workshops and engaged in experimental projects to test the ideas that emerged.
The result of this process is the Global Narrative Hive, a new network launched in September 2023, to connect and grow the global ecosystem of activists and campaigners, communications workers, researchers, artists, journalists and others who are using narratives to advance their visions of a more just world.
Its mission is to hold and socialise an overview of this ecosystem – supporting connections between movements, technical fields, and types of actors, so that we can work more effectively as a whole. The Global Narrative Hive will facilitate knowledge-sharing, foster alliances, and help to integrate new actors into this ecosystem.
As FICS, we have learned a huge amount about how to hold space for emergent, movement-led processes and about participatory approaches to the distribution of resources, including knowledge, relationships, time, and funding. We look forward to sharing our learning from this process in funder spaces.
FICS is proud to support the Hive as part of our ongoing commitment to supporting rights-based movements to defend their civic space and share better visions of the future.
Learn more about the Global Narrative Hive at narrativehive.org
04 Oct 2023 - Report
Authors Ben Hayes and Poonam Joshi summarise the key findings of the FICS 2019 strategic review, which sought ...
04 Oct 2023 - Event
In late 2021, FICS Director Poonam Joshi co-convened the annual International Civic Forum meeting, which brings together people ...
04 Oct 2023 - Article
People organising in on and offline civic spaces have been integral to almost every progressive political and social ...