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The Culture Hack Curriculum

Deep Dive: Developing a Point of View

The Point of View

The Point of View is the first step in the Culture Hack Labs methodology. It is essentially a statement that outlines the context and goals of the narrative intervention you want to engage in. Developing a point of view is a first but crucial step for the rest of the methodology. It sets the foundation; the goal and intention of the narrative intervention and informs and contextualizes the data collection and analysis stages of the methodology.

The Point of View is an opportunity to bring together the different stakeholders of the narrative intervention and engage in a collective exercise designed to more deeply understand these people, their context and what it is that they want to achieve together. When we plan collectively, we bring individuals into a collective identity: a group or a coalition. It does not mean we are erasing individual narratives, it means we must find the unifying thread through each of our stories of struggle and motivations, and find the commonality that shows us how interconnected we are. In this respect, the point of view is akin to coalition building in that it creates sufficient common identity that people are willing to join a common goal.

We can use the following principles as guides as we think about our shared point of view:

  1. Only together we all know everything.
  2. People are experts in their lives. Local knowledge is legitimate knowledge.
  3. The problem is the problem; the person or community is never the problem. The problems to which we respond have their origin in a structural inequity.
  4. We are not neutral. We want to contribute to creating stories that strengthen people and communities, in which it is possible to recognize their dignity, not precarious.
  5. Identity is a collective achievement, not an individual one.
  6. Identities are multi-historian, not historical mono.
  7. We document knowledge to transcend the moment.
  8. Create links to help enable the worlds we want to see.

The Point of View statement is composed of four smaller statements that address important questions towards outlining a common collective identity and a common goal. To answer these questions, we invite you to organize collective exercises, workshops and any other collective decision-making methods you may be familiar with.

Who are you? 

The first aspect of the statement is about defining who we are, with an emphasis on two aspects: the project team and the group of stakeholders who this matters to. It is therefore helpful to ask the following questions:

  1. Who are the people working on the project and what are their skills and capacities? Be sure to add details like geographic location, demographics and other details that you think define you as a group of people.
  2. Who are the stakeholders for the project / narrative intervention? In what way will this impact these stakeholders?

What is the motivation for this project? 

The second aspect of the Point of View statement is listing the most important insights into why this project is important to you as a collective. This requires defining the key insights or facts that drive the desire to change the narrative. The following questions need to be answered.

  1. What is the motivation for the project? Why does it matter? 
  2. What important facts determine the scope of the intervention? 

What is the desired outcome of your narrative intervention?

The third aspect of the Point of View statement is articulating the outcome you wish to obtain through your narrative intervention. In other words, what do you want to achieve? To articulate this third statement, you must consider: 

  1. What is the impact this intervention can make?
  2. What does success look like? 

How will you or your movement create the change that you desire? 

The fourth and final aspect of the Point of View statement is a list of actions that can be taken in order to achieve the desired outcome. You may have done some of these actions already or you may have thought of them. What is key here however is that you are listing these actions in light of the common goal you set for yourself as a group and knowing that you are about to embark on a process of data collection and analysis that will likely help you refine existing strategies. 

Ask yourself:

  1. What needs to be done to achieve the desired outcome?
  2. How can we represent the different voices in the room?

Examples of POV statement

Example 1: Technical POV

As a group of climate activists

We see that the effects of Covid19, recent protest movements starting with the 2019 XR Rebellion, the resurgence of #BLM of 2020 and the current lockdown protests are converging in a Government response aiming to encroach on civil liberties

Therefore we want to bring attention to the relationship between civil liberties and climate crisis. In particular we want to reach those people who may be undecided, uninformed or uninterested.

We will do this by:

  • Mapping the narrative landscape in the UK at this time – identifying communities and influencers – as they pertain to ‘almost there’ communities.
  • Developing communication strategies and hypotheses that fit these communities either as one reframe strategy or several parallel ones
  • Organizing, briefing and coordinating a broad spectrum of creatives to create assets for the campaign
  • disseminating the campaign on a cross-platform (tv/radio/social media) basis leveraging a network of influencers and frontline workers
  • providing a toolkit with messaging to a range of protest movements, from environmentalists to social justice activists
  • sharing the findings of the campaign to representatives from a broad spectrum of activists in the lead-up to Cop26
  • measuring the campaign in real time to continue to find pressure points for reframe activity

Example 2: POV statement as a political manifesto

The Manifesto of Pirarucu

In January 2020, more than 600 indigenous leaders from 45 indigenous tribes as well as many other organizations and allies from across Brazil gathered at the Mebengokre People and Indigenous Leaders Gathering. They came at the invitation of Chief Raoni. The group was brought together by a shared context: increasing threats from the Brazilian government, rapidly increasing deforestation, a rise in illegal mining, and the weekly murders of Indigenous leaders, The four-day meeting was a time for those attending to join forces and denounce the genocide, ethnocide  and ecocide promoted by current goverment policies. It ended with a joint declaration, the Manifesto of Piracu.

The conversation centered around Indigenous voices. Everyone highlighted the historical nature of such gatherings, the importance of coming together to share stories, songs and solidarity; and the urgency of organizing in the face of the escalating violence from the government and from illegal land grabbers. Old and young voices, female and male in unison shared powerful stories of the challenges they face and of resistance.

The context was shaped by the voices of  women, who fought hard to make their voices heard in a space that has been historically dominated by men. Young and old women energized the conversation with an ‘embodied’ narrative of the struggle and contemporary Indigenous life, where men have often been the ones ‘selling out’ and succumbing to the temptations of capitalism; the opportunity to lease or rent the land to soya farmers or garimpeiros (artisan gold miners), or to loggers. Women offered a fresh perspective and at the same time set the foundational terms for the resistance — allegiance to the land, culture and principles.

Example 3: POV statement from Indigenous Futures Report

The Context

The climate emergency is not a distant, future event. This year alone, around the globe, we have already experienced a pandemic, droughts, fires, water crisis, floods, hurricanes, famines and loss of biodiversity at alarming rates. Every year, the number of human and more-than-human life that is displaced as a result of these climate catastrophes increases. This is not a drill, this is an emergency. Never has the future felt so present. It is not an abstract notion anymore. 

In August 2021, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (the IPCC), issued an imminent warning: if we do not change the current rates of carbon emission by 2030, the damage would be irreversible and in 2050, human life on the planet could be existentially threatened. It is also important to remember that we will not equally bear the brunt of the climate crisis. Studies show that the majority of the highest carbon emissions per capita come from the richest countries. As of 2015, the Global North was responsible for 92% of the excess emissions, while most countries in the Global South were within their boundary fair shares. But the consequences of climate change are more severe in the regions that have not contributed substantially to the crisis. The Central American region, for instance, will be one of the most vulnerable and impacted regions by the climate crisis. According to the World Health Organization, every year, 150 000 people die of diseases, starvation or other health reasons tied to climate change. This number is expected to double by 2030. Again, these deaths mostly occur in developing countries. In the 2015 Paris Agreement, UN Member States set goals to reduce carbon emissions. In general, the international community’s objective has been to regulate the current unsustainable growth model and progressively transition to a green growth model. However it remains clear that such a model will not provide us with the answers we collectively need. Studies have shown that it is not possible to maintain an infinite economic growth model on a finite planet. In addition to being hard to implement (because most of the proposed solutions rely on the goodwill of nation states), curbing carbon emissions and promoting a green economy do not challenge the growth model, and will therefore not be sufficient to prevent the imminent extinction of life on earth. We need bolder, radical solutions.

Our Point of View

At Culture Hack Labs, we believe that all power rests on the ability to harness and control language; and humans make sense of their world through stories. Narratives explain how power has come to rest in the hands of the few, rather than the many. They reveal how our struggles – from land to labour, biodiversity and even our very bodies – are part of the same global system, one that prioritizes the production of capital – in other words, economic growth – over everything else, and at the expense of everything else. [Reference: The Rules Foundation 2012 – 2019]

Given the escalating climate emergency coupled with the foreboding warnings of the IPCC report, we must acknowledge that existing narratives about our relationship with the Other and our Selves have led us astray. Indigenous cultures are ancient, deeply diverse and life centric, making them relevant alternatives to the fragile, calcified and destructive narratives of late stage Capitalism and Progress. In addition to this, Indigenous peoples are defenders of 80% of the world’s biodiversity and have shown that their territories are interwoven with their cultures. By protecting their indigenous lives, cultures and territories we will defend our collective future.

Further Reading: