Frogleaps helps professionals achieve green change by providing free e-learning courses. Frogleaps.org will launch a new course on storytelling on 1 October. The first e-course on Strategic Communication is available online.
IUCN CEC is the first partner to endorse Frogleaps.The initiators are IUCN CEC members Frits Hesselink and Peter Paul van Kempen.
How can storytelling be part of your communication strategy?
This free course will teach how to use storytelling as a powerful means for conservation action. The story telling course is based on two surveys among a hundred CEC members, an extensive study of relevant literature and many experiences of storytelling from the CEC network. The course also intends to make a link to the CEC campaign How to tell a love story about nature. Already five CEC members from different continents contributed a story of their campaign using the principles promoted in this CEC campaign: humanize, personalize and publicize nature. The challenge now is to multiply the number of such campaign stories as a CEC contribution to Aichi Target 1.
Start with Frogleaps: Strategic Communication
The first course now available on www.frogleaps.org is Strategic Communication. You are invited to prepare for the storytelling course by first taking the current course Frogleaps: Strategic communication. Find out how on www.frogleaps.org. Users learn what strategic communication is and why a strategic approach is crucial for achieving sustainability aims. Frogleaps shows how to prevent failure in communication and how to achieve success. The users get tips and tools to develop their own Strategic communication project. The unique feature of Frogleaps is that in each course all theory is illustrated with a true case which runs through the entire course. This way users can experience what the theory means in real practice.
Survey asks professionals about they stories they tell
In developing the new course, a survey was conducted of people who work as 'conservation communicators' as a profession. They were asked, "When you are at a birthday party, how do you talk about your job?" A small sample of responses are provided here.
- I am living in a place where the forest is “invading” my rooms through the open doors. I tell funny stories about different adventures with biodiversity: field mice cutting the wires of my computer, bats hanging in the corner of my wardrobe etc. Then after my funny stories people usually start telling their own adventures with animals even in city flats. After some of their stories I am able to the answer question – what is my job?
- I am...cultivating my private reserve area in my garden where I am protecting weeds. Weeds may not be “nice”, but most of them are medicine plants. Most weeds deserve protection not only because they are used in native medicine, they are also food for birds and butterflies. I am following [St. Francis of Assisi's] instructions...to keep some parts of the gardens of the monastery uncultivated as a place for wild creatures.
- I am sking people to try to imagine their local country as different species and habitats are disappearing one by one. How will the neighborhood look like? How are we able to manage our plantation without bees and birds? How the landscape had changed since their childhood ? What changes are good and what bad for their heath and budget?
- The Jungle Book by Kipling inspired me as a child. It presents life of animals as adventures and makes them “human” in terms of feelings and characters.
- A small bat that had departed from Germany fell down in a Spanish school yard exhausted from fatigue. It was rescued by the school children and sent by their teachers to a wildlife centre. It was fed and recuperated. The Minister of Environment of that time paid the air plane ticket for the bat back to Germany. This positive and amusing story teaches important things.
- For me the heroes are the youth. The villains are the ignorant who only think short term. The obstacles are the lack of social capital and the happy ending is the fact that in this world there exist people just like us who have realized innovations in conservation and that you can do the same in the place where you live.
- In the positive stories that I tell, there are mainly heroes who act against the bad guys, but without elaborating on the negative impacts of their acts. I like to keep it positive. There is a villain, or a bad event, but the story is about the solution. The end is always happy or partly happy when there is still hope to do more. The story is focused on action. I give opportunities for action on different levels or difficulties depending on the action perspectives for smaller or bigger issues.
An e-learning course on storytelling: success factors
The survey also asked, "What would make the course a success?" Respondents stressed that the course should be short, fun and inspiring. It should also demystify the CEC Love. Not Loss message. It should be based on real life examples. It should provide users opportunities to interact and send their stories in. It should provide tools that users can immediately apply.