Center for Story-based Strategy (formerly SmartMeme)
Doyle Canning is cofounder of the Center for Story-based Strategy. She is a strategist, facilitator, and coach for social and ecological justice movements. She enjoys growing food and flowers and biking her two children around in a Dutch cargo bike. Doyle is a JD candidate at the University of Oregon School of Law and blogs at doylecanning.com
Patrick Reinsborough is a social movement strategist, change agent, and creative provocateur with thirty years of experience. Patrick’s work has incorporated a range of creative strategies including brand busting, culture jamming, markets campaigning, and nonviolent direct action. He has helped organize countless creative interventions including the historic shutdown of the Seattle WTO meeting in 1999, protests against the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, and visionary alliance-building uniting North American communities impacted by fossil fuels. Patrick is the cofounder of the Center for Story-based Strategy (formerly smartMeme). He lives with his family in Oakland, CA.
For more on smartMeme go to www.smartMeme.org.
Re:Imagining Change: How to Use Story-Based Strategy to Win Campaigns, Build Movements, and Change the World, Second Edition
Authors: Patrick Reinsborough & Doyle Canning • Foreword: Jonathan Matthew Smucker
Publisher: PM Press
Page count: 224 pages
Subjects: Political Activism/Media Studies
Re:Imagining Change provides resources, theory, hands-on tools, and illuminating case studies for the next generation of innovative change-makers. This unique book explores how culture, media, memes, and narrative intertwine with social change strategies, and offers practical methods to amplify progressive causes in the popular culture.
Re:Imagining Change is an inspirational inside look at the trailblazing methodology developed by the Center for Story-based Strategy over fifteen years of their movement building partnerships. This practitioner's guide is an impassioned call to innovate our strategies for confronting the escalating social and ecological crises of the twenty-first century. This new, expanded second edition includes updated examples from the frontlines of social movements and provides the reader with easy-to-use tools to change the stories they care about most.
“All around us the old stories are failing, crumbling in the face of lived experience and scientific reality. But what stories will replace them? That is the subject of this crucial book: helping readers to tell irresistible stories about deep change—why it is needed and what it will look like. The Story-based Strategy team has been doing this critical work for fifteen years, training an entire generation in transformative communication. This updated edition of Re:Imagining Change is a thrilling addition to the activist tool kit.”
—Naomi Klein, author of This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate
“This powerful and useful book is an invitation to harness the transformative power of stories by examining social change strategy through the lens of narrative. Re:Imagining Change is an essential resource to make efforts for fundamental social change more enticing, compelling, and effective. It’s a potent how-to book for anyone working to create a better world.”
—Ilyse Hogue, president, NARAL Pro-Choice America
“Brilliant and invaluable. George Lakoff introduced the progressive movement to the power of framing. Doyle Canning and Patrick Reinsborough take framing to a far more powerful level and provide practical tools essential to the success of every progressive organization that seeks to bring forth a world of peace and justice. It gets my highest recommendation.”
—David Korten, author of The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community
“We are surrounded and shaped by stories every day, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. But what Doyle Canning and Patrick Reinsborough point out is a beautiful and powerful truth––that we are all storytellers too. Armed with the right narrative tools, activists can not only open the world's eyes to injustice, but feed the desire for a better world. Re:Imagining Change is a powerful weapon for a more democratic, creative and hopeful future.”
—Raj Patel, author of The Value of Nothing: How to Reshape Market Society and Redefine Democracy
“As an introduction to story-based strategy, the book offers organizers and advocates a new and necessary way to understand and transform the impact of stories on our public life.”
—Malkia Cyril, executive director, Center for Media Justice
For a calendar of speaking events, please click here
- Doyle Canning on Redeye Vancouver Coop Radio
- Re:Imagining Change in Forbes
- Re:Imagining Change in Labor Studies Journal
- Re:Imagining Change in Social Movement Studies Journal
- Re:Imagining Change in In These Times
- Re:Imagining Change in Dark Matter
Redeye Vancouver Coop Radio
September 30th, 2017
Doyle Canning is with Center for Story-Based Strategy. In this episode, she talks about the importance of narrative in creating social change. She cites the Black Lives Matter movement as an example of how a radically new framing of familiar events transformed perspectives about the injustices faced by black people. Doyle Canning is co-author of RE:Imagining Change, a practical guide to harness the power of stories to create social change.
By Ralph Benko
October 8th, 2017
"Two little-known, self-effacing, immensely potent leaders of the progressive movement, Patrick Reinsborough (long a friend and cherished archenemy) and Doyle Canning, are a big part of the reason for the left’s relentless success. They have recently published the second edition of the most important political book of our era: Re:Imagining Change: How to use story-based strategy to win campaigns, build movements, and change the world. They have quietly and effectively been teaching the left for a long time. It is working.
This book lays out, chapter and verse, the culture, strategy and tactics by which the left continues to achieve policy victory after policy victory notwithstanding political defeats. It is the hidden-in-plain-sight secret blueprint to the left’s most powerful “secret weapon.”..."
Despite its limitations, Re:Imagining Change makes a valuable contribution to rais- ing contemporary activist consciousness of the role cultural narratives play both in maintaining existing power relations and unleashing human potential to change them. The book serves as a welcome reminder that to make real change, “movements need to nurture a culture of strategic innovation,” (107) take risks, and articulate vision- ary alternatives to the status quo. And for a contemporary labor movement too often reluctant to “disrupt dominant narratives” by telling its own proud, visionary stories of what a just world for workers might look like—and tempted instead to seek short-cut “messaging” solutions based on focus-grouped talking points too often designed to reinforce dominant narratives—there may be no such thing as too many reminders of the inseparability of stories and power.
Social Movement Studies Journal
by Jules Boykoff
Re:Imagining Change antes up concrete answers to these questions. As such, this book holds promise for undergraduate courses on protest and social change as well media politics and civic engagement. The authors offer a wide range of real-world examples of dissident citizenship to illuminate the concepts in their book, from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers to Iraq Veterans Against the War to ecological justice movements. Bringing this work into conversation with scholarly research on framing and collective action could enliven classroom discussions. And the book is certainly an excellent resource for practicing activists.
In These Times
By Adam Kader
All of this is to say that Re:Imagining Change has inspired me to evaluate the choices we’re making in designing and communicating our organizing campaigns. Other progressive organizers should strive to do the same. The left is losing the battle over narrative, which means we often lose the larger war over legislation and fiscal policy. Think of common current rhetoric surrounding climate change legislation (“it kills jobs”), public sector jobs (“we have to cut back to decrease the deficit”), gender parity (“it will result in frivolous lawsuits”), etc.
Dark Matter in the Ruins of Imperial Culture
by Jason Harle and Michelle Stewart
August 31, 2011
Re:Imagining Change balances techniques for incisive, “deconstructive” critical analysis with “constructive methods” for building resonate narratives and successful campaign actions. Reinsborough and Canning’s comprehensive “Story-based Strategy Campaign Model” can be a useful guide and source of optimistic inspiration for twenty-first century grassroots activists. Finally, Re:Imagining Change can serve as a powerful classroom tool for communications studies, cultural studies, sociology and political science, elucidating complex arguments about social power with great clarity and concrete, poignant examples.