My internship has been centered on storytelling through casual interviews with the idea of using these testimonies for advocacy and the improvement of policies that affect the storytellers. We have held group interviews in affordable housing facilities where groups of residents have shown up to talk to us about energy efficiency in their homes and how it affects their lives. We’ve also talked to building owners and managers, asking about how they’ve impacted energy and living in the buildings they are responsible for. We came in with a basic idea of what questions we wanted to ask, allowing for the natural path of the conversation to control how we asked.
The problem with “storytelling” is that it seems to take hundreds of conversations to find the compelling tale that you need for the purpose you’re pursuing. Most people have experiences with the issue at hand, but often those experiences are lists and not novels. It forces, for success, kind and patient perseverance. The purpose of storytelling is one that seeks to help, and it cannot be overshadowed by the desire for the perfect story. It cannot be obscured by the cold push for policy or ruined by coercion. It’s the desire to advocate that causes frustration: we know hardships exist, but where do we find the stories that “sell”? The reality is that these are what force change.
I’ve been finding myself a little frustrated with the pace of my work and the limitations of what I’m allowed to do. I think I know what it takes to talk to a lot of people and collect stories and I’m willing to do it, but because of the circumstances of internship and supervision, I don’t have much autonomy in trying to collect these stories. I’m kind of bound by the transition that the relationship between EcoWorks and MEEFA is undergoing.