HOW TO USE YOUR TRAVELS TO BECOME A CITIZEN STORYTELLER

Every traveler TELLS STORIES.

Humans have always shared stories. It is how we connect with others and how we communicate what is valuable and important to us. We share our experiences, learnings, and wisdom. Our stories remind us of who we are and how we should act.

A story is simply the telling of an event, in a way that engages an audience. They have no prescribed length or medium. Stories can exist as one sentence or a single photograph. They could also fill volumes, or go on for hours or days. Every culture and community tell stories differently.

You tell stories about real life every day. Informally, perhaps, but stories none the less. 

  • What kind of stories are you telling
  • What do you choose to focus on?
  • What do you wish to engage your ‘audience’ in?

In a media world full of gossip, judgement and nonsense, the citizen storyteller is a force for good. They promote optimism, collaboration, solutions and progress. 

CITIZEN STORYTELLER

anyone who is interested in documenting and sharing important stories about real life

Think about citizen storytelling as a way to volunteer for efforts that matter to you. Instead of serving in a soup kitchen, building for Habitat for Humanity, or joining a beach clean up, you can contribute your stories. Citizen storytellers use whatever kind of media-making abilities they have in service to the changemakers or culturekeepers they care about.

As a traveler, when you take up the mantle of a citizen storyteller, you now have a purpose to frame all of your future journeys. You can experience destinations from the perspective of the people who live there, develop relationships with remarkable humans who live differently than you, and use your travels to contribute in a useful, meaningful way.

Becoming a citizen storyteller enables deeper connection with yourself, your community, the causes you care about and the world you live in.

ANYONE CAN BECOME A CITIZEN storyteller.

#1. Focus your attention on things that matter. 

In any environment there are countless influences vying for your attention. When you travel to a new place, you could hit the bucket list destinations and the tourist bazaar, or you could find the changemakers and culturekeepers. Ask yourself, how do they solve problems in this place and who is leading the efforts. How do they pass down the knowledge of their ancestors and who protects it?

When you show up as an outsider and honor someone’s efforts with your attention you are reminding everyone in the community that this work is important.

#2. Document the work and wisdom. 

After obtaining explicit, informed consent…

  • Snap photos
  • Record video
  • Take down what the people have to say
  • Give it back to them in ways they can use to further their work

Each individual piece of media you can create is called an ‘asset’ because that is what it is: valuable properties that can be put to use in a variety of ways. Citizen storytellers contribute by helping create these kinds of assets. 

#3. Share the good stories with your community and ask them to tell the others. 

When you share stories about changemakers and culturekeepers you can have real impact. Your efforts can set off a chain reaction that can…

  • Direct welcome attention to little-known heroes. With increased attention comes increased resources and opportunities to further their work. 
  • Spread good ideas. Something that works in Mexico may also be a solution to a problem in Australia. 
  • Influence the kinds of conversations you have with your people. Be a bright beacon of hope and optimism that inspires others to focus on the good, and maybe they will become citizens storytellers themselves. 

#4. Experience meaningful, transformational travel. 

In order for your travels to have meaning you need to spend time building rich relationships, feel a sense of awe and wonder at what you encounter, have a purpose for being there and/or make an effort to develop greater understanding; of yourself, others, and the world around you. These things are hard to come by if you are just following the recommendations from TripAdvisor or in the itinerary of a packaged tour. Tourism-as-usual feels more like visiting a theme park than any kind of connection across cultures. As a citizen storyteller, you have the motivation to seek out experiences and encounters that exist away from the tourist traps. You quit measuring a place by how many sights you can see and instead consider how deeply you can connect with the folks who live there. 

You have the opportunity to practice some very important people skills:

  • Curiosity
  • Listening
  • Empathy
  • Non judgement
  • Reflection

We get better at what we practice. How much better of a world would it be if we all got better at practicing these more often? What you practice on location, you can bring back home into your every day life.

USE YOUR POWER FOR GOOD.

We are all storytellers. Our individual ability to document and amplify a story has never been greater.

As a citizen storyteller, you have the power to tell stories that fuel connection. You can provide hope, dismantle prejudices, heal wounds, share solutions, and reveal the good in our world. 

Now, what will you use your power for?