Telling Stories, Finding Solutions in Nairobi
Community storytelling has always helped communities reflect on shared values and differences. But it can also be a powerful way to engage communities with the issues of sustainability and climate change.
For My Mark: My City, we paired the Kenyan creative community organisation Hoperaisers with Dr. Antonia Liguori from Loughborough University in the United Kingdom. Together they have piloted a project that was inspired by “The Reasons”, an adaptation of a traditional form for conflict resolution from Sardinia, Italy. It uses storytelling to bring people together in a public “mock court” to explore community environmental dilemmas.
Over three days, we worked with 10 community leaders, mostly women, from varied communities close to the Dandora dumpsite in Nairobi. Dandora has a debated legacy, both as a cause of unsanitary living conditions, and as a provider of economic employment for rubbish-pickers.
Reconciling Conflicting Views
Our aim was to engage community members with ideas for the site’s future, from turning it into a recycling centre to creating sports or arts facilities for local children. Each participant created a story with key messages about their proposed solution, with their ideas then woven into a single song by the Kenyan musician Daniel Onyango. During the public event, 10 members of the audience were invited to reconcile the conflicting views emerging from the stories with additional opinions gathered during an open discussion, and then deliver a “verdict” on behalf of the whole community.
Imagine if we could create community storytelling initiatives like this one across the world, using conversation and music as a driver towards action and to create lasting environmental change.