October saw the end of one huge project at Storythings, and the start of a couple more, including one very important anniversary.
This is the second impact summary we’ve published — the first was our September summary last month. It’s an evolving format, but we’d love your feedback and comments. We do a lot of very diverse projects, with different impacts for different communities around the globe, and writing this summary really helps us reflect on what we’ve been doing. Hopefully, it helps other people understand what we do as well.
This was a major cross platform project for PBS, asking Americans to vote for their favourite novel from a list of 100 books derived from audience surveys and expert advisors. Launching in May 2018, a season of TV shows has explored the joys of reading across diverse communities, and online content has been getting out the vote to find America’s favourite novel.
What we did
We’ve been working on this project since 2017, helping TV production company Nutopia develop the interactive elements of the initial pitch, and then taking on the role of Digital Executive Producer to scope, tender and manage the production of the digital campaign. Over the last few months of the campaign we focused on analysing the voting data, pulling out interesting trends and stories, and helping the production team prepare content for the finale show.
The impact so far
After five months of voting, and over 4.2m votes in total, the winner of The Great American Read was - To Kill A Mockingbird! The book had led the voting from the start, and despite a strong showing from Outlander, held the lead throughout. We attended the live finale recording in New York on Oct 21st, and watched the social media response as the show was broadcast on Oct 23rd. The result generated a huge debate on Twitter, especially as TKAM explores issues of race and justice that are just as relevant now as they were when it was first published in 1960.
The Story Conference & The Story Academy
The Story Conference is our annual conference bringing together a diverse range of speakers from across different creative sectors. We started the event in 2010, and our speakers have included Alan Rusbridger, Bryony Kimmings, Musa Okwomnga, Nikesh Shukla, Cornelia Parker, Diane Coyle and Jarvis Cocker.
What we did
Our next conference in February 2019 is the 10th event, so to celebrate we’re launching The Story Academy, a year-long pilot programme to support emerging creative talent who are not in formal education or training. We’ve launched a call for sponsors and partners to help fund the salaries/bursaries and host the participants in a six month paid placement.
The impact so far
Over the last nine years of The Story, we’ve raised over £50k for three organisations who run literacy projects for young people - the Ministry of Stories, Grimm & Co and Little Green Pig. For the 10th anniversary, we wanted to do something more ambitious, and start a new project to give emerging creative talent the two things they need to develop their careers - time and networks.
How We Get To Next is our flagship publication, launched in 2014. At How We Get To Next, we think the future needs a new framework. We call it structural futurism: a way of imagining the future that focuses on how people interact with systems, be it corporate agriculture or institutional racism. How We Get To Next asks the questions: How should power be administered? How should resources be distributed? How should systems be structured? What we think about the future changes how we think about — and what we do — now.
What we did
In October we launched a new project within How We Get To Next called Beats. We’ve hired four new writers - Lou Cornum on “Space”, Alicia Kennedy on “Food”, Kenny Fries on “Disability” and Lola Pellegrino on “Health”. Each Beat offers a unique view into the structural challenges humanity faces as a global community — and, indeed, as a species. How should power be administered? How should resources be distributed? How should systems be structured? Our Beats writers will explore how these questions apply to corporate space travel, to global food production, to the legal and cultural norms that define both “disability” and “ability,” and to deficits in funding, research, and care in the field of women’s health.
Impact so far
The first two Beats essays have already had an impact. Kenny Fries’ essay asked how we can change the stories we tell about disability in the future, and Alicia Kennedy looked at what it would take for Americans to give up eating beef. Both essays generated a huge amount of sharing and discussing online, particularly among organisations and communities focused on disability and the links between diet and the climate. We’re really pleased to see the initial response, and are now working on ideas for how we can build and grow active communities around our new Beats writers.