At the 2019 Opportunity Finance Network (OFN) Conference in Washington, D.C., one of this year's breakout sessions featured a communications-focused panel discussion entitled "Asset-Based Language: How to Avoid the Rescue Syndrome in Our Communications." Led by moderator Katie Coleman of OFN member IFF and panelists Ilsa Flanagan of Social Change Strategies, Mackenzie Price of FrameWorks Institute, and Jennifer Oldham of The Healing Trust, the conversation explored how the type of words and descriptors organizations use to talk about the communites they serve matter, as well as practical strategies for how to approach storytelling in a different way.
In attendance at the session was Shelterforce editor Miriam Alex-Lute, who recently provided her analysis on this important discussion. One approach discussed by the panelists that Alex-Lute found particularly useful was their principle to focus on systems. "The way to avoid the problem of having the struggles of individual people or places represent something inherent and immutable is to explicitly point out the systems at work—past and present—that cause them," Alex-Lute says.
Read Alex-Lute's full analysis in Shelterforce.