SmartMeme is one of my favorite organizations and one I've admired for their work, integrity and ability to help movements harness the power of storytelling and narrative to advance social change. Despite my familiarity with their work over the past six or so years, I've never had the privilege to attend one of their trainings. Fortunately, I just did...kind of.
I watched their video below, which is a good introduction to smartMeme's work and their story-based strategy model, appropriately titled as Grassroots Organizing Meets Narrative Power. Once you watch this presentation, you will want to read Re:Imagining Change, their fantastic interactive book that provides tools, analysis, case studies and inspiration to amplify and enhance your social change work.
If you're wondering what a 'meme' is (rhymes with 'cream'), Wikipedia has it defined as "a postulated unit or element of cultural ideas, symbols or practices, [that] is transmitted from one mind to another through speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena." The smartMeme folks go further and explore memes and social movements and apply meme theory to strengthen social change efforts. They note how "clever memes are constantly being created to sell products, ideas, political candidates and policies", and share a few examples that often work as a container to hold and support larger stories: "you're either with us, or you're with the terrorists", "a woman's place is in the kitchen" and "think globally, act locally".
Mission: SmartMeme builds movements and amplifies the impact of grassroots organizing with new strategy and training resources, values based communications, collaborations, and meme campaigning. smartMeme uses the power of narrative to advance a holistic vision of grassroots social change that connects struggles for democracy, peace, justice and ecological sanity.