Continued Community Conversations
You’ve wrapped up your book launch and LIVE event, and you may be thinking: Now what?
Let’s be blunt, a better question you should ask yourself is: “Who cares?”
Some folks on your planning committee may have asked this in the beginning. Heck, you may have asked yourself this. But we’re hoping you didn’t.
Now that you’re planning for the end of The Facing Project, in what ways could it be the beginning? When we work with communities, we say that the book launch and LIVE event are just the beginning. The beginning of the next steps for your community to face the issue.
Thinking about the beginning, now re-ask yourself the questions, “So what/now what? Who cares?” We hope those on your team ask the question, too. After all, that’s what facing should be about. It should be tackling an issue head on through stories, and then thinking about the impact that’s had on your community.
Stories are a terrible thing to waste.
What are the next steps?
Continuing the Conversation
Agree to keep your team together. Even if it’s a sub-committee of the original team that created The Facing Project in your community, you are the thread that holds it together. You hold the power of keeping it going. You owe it to those who shared their stories.
But what is the role of this team?
The team could meet formally or informally—just like sharing stories between writers and subjects, some of the best brainstorming happens over coffee and food. But sometimes we need that formal space to get our creative juices into an organized manner.
From those conversations, you could agree to host an annual week or month around the issue area. Or you could host a series of events related to the issue peppered throughout the year.
And remember that you are armed with a powerful tool—your stories. You can continue to share your stories through your book and Facing website with new partners, new volunteers, newly elected officials, and those running for office. Mail a copy of your book to elected officials with a letter asking them to be a part of the conversations—pointing out that these are local stories from their community.
Some other successful models of continuing the conversation have included a partnership with local libraries for a community read. Your Facing Project book could be available at the libraries and other venues throughout the city—grocery stores, nonprofit agencies, etc.—for folks to read to come together at various organized community round tables and conversation circles.
Other Facing communities have adapted their LIVE events to do theatre on the road for months after their book launch. This has included stops at area K-12 schools, after-school centers, and community events such as fairs, festivals, and art-related happenings. Much like a community read, these adapted events can include round tables and conversations circles (especially in school/after-school setting).
These post-book launch events are a great way to get the stories, and your project, into the hands and minds of those who need it most.
Expanding Your Partnerships to Continue the Conversation
Who wasn’t at the table for the original conversations? Who are the folks you thought about after the fact? Reach out to them now.
Although you may have collected the stories and had your events, others will want to join you in your journey of facing an issue. Maybe you met them at the book launch and LIVE theatrical event or perhaps at one of the other events such as the conversations circles. Maybe they happened upon your sub-site and reached out to you. Maybe they received a copy of your book from a friend. They are interested. You’ve started the conversation with them about the issue, and now you can keep them on board as an advocate. They might engage their constituents in the conversations, and a new group of engaged citizens will come on board to continue sharing the stories of your neighbors and facing the issue.
Who might be some other partners you could bring on board to continue the conversation in your community?
List 10 ways you plan to keep the conversation going around your community’s issue area.
Whatever you do, keep the conversations going. Keep sharing the stories. Keep facing the issue.
Check out the “Examples of Impact” section of the Toolkit under “What’s Next” to see what’s happened in some Facing communities because of their efforts to continue the conversation beyond the book launch and LIVE event.