Exploring a Calgary Story-Sharing Co-op

The Stony Plain co-op cluster stand near a three-part mural they commissioned as part of the International Year of Co-operatives.

Exploring a Calgary Story-Sharing Co-op

Sarah Arthurs and Peter Pula to host upcoming discussion and working session

Sarah Arthurs witnessed the power of sharing stories during the 2012 International Year of Co-operatives (IYC) and is looking to co-create a new story-sharing venture in Calgary.

As the Alberta Co-ordinator for the IYC, Sarah linked the Alberta Community and Co-operative Association with Axiom News to share stories of the strengths and successes of the province’s co-operative community.

Through these stories, which were posted online and distributed via social media and e-newsletters, she saw the benefits of story sharing.

  Sarah Arthurs

“What I witnessed was the way that sharing stories could strengthen the groups that were involved in the activity, validate them, affirm them, support them in their work,” says Sarah, who is the founder of 7 Principles Consulting.

Sharing stories also nurture possibilities beyond the people in the story, creating a “synergizing, exponential developmental effect,” she says.

One interesting outcome from IYC is in Stony Plain, Alta., a large and bright mural was created that speaks about the role of co-ops in their community. Sarah says she thinks this came about in part because of the “sense of momentum and possibility supported through the sharing of stories.”

Axiom News provides grassroots story-sharing services to organizations. When the stories are about the people you know, you are more likely to pay attention and be involved in a different way than reading a newspaper, notes Sarah.

Because of her experience with IYC and Axiom News, Sarah is exploring the idea of creating a story-sharing co-operative in Calgary.

“The idea is to provide a way for co-ops, communities and citizens to share their stories and be able to network with each other,” she says, noting it is a journey she is looking to take with other people.

At this point, she envisions various co-operatives, social enterprises, local businesses, community groups and institutions becoming members of the story-sharing co-operative. Members would receive a determined number of stories created in-house and be involved in sharing a curated e-newsletter. There would be a co-operative governance structure, with members elected to the board.

The story-sharing co-op would ideally be self-sustaining through member fees and perhaps other revenue streams such as advertising.

As part of the story-sharing co-op, a platform Sarah likens to a “Kijiji for social capital” would be created to link Calgarians involved in social-purpose work.

Having been involved in the city’s community development, social change and citizen engagement events for the past 10-plus years, Sarah says she has noticed there are often big conferences that inspire people but when they are over it is hard to maintain the momentum.

  Peter Pula

She says her sense is having this kind of community-curated news service centred on community-based, citizen-driven and co-operative-modelled activities would be a way to maintain the momentum.

Sarah has had some meetings with potential inaugural members of the story-sharing co-op, and says people are enthusiastic about the possibility. She is looking to connect with more people interested in bringing the idea to life.

Sarah and Axiom News CEO Peter Pula are hosting an Oct. 23 event, starting at 7 p.m., to explore the role of journalism and story sharing. The evening, which is open to anyone interested, will reflect on questions like: What is the news we need? What are the stories that will make our world better? How do we tell those stories?

For those interested in forming the story-sharing co-op, a working session will be held Oct. 24 starting at 9 a.m.

Both events are being held at Prairie Sky Co Housing Co-operative, 100 402 30 Ave NE Calgary. To RSVP or learn more, click here, or contact Sarah at Sarah.arthurs@prairiesky.ab.ca or 403-860-3980.

You can comment on this story below, or e-mail jennifer(at)axiomnews.ca

Writer Bio

Jennifer Neutel's picture
Jennifer Neutel

Jennifer Neutel is a Story Advocate and Generative Journalist at Axiom News. She completed her Bachelor of Journalism at Carleton University in Ottawa in 2006, and joined Axiom News in 2007. She has taken on a variety of roles at Axiom including new social media intiatives and has a passion for creating strengths-based questions that can lead to positive change.

Contact Jennifer: jennifer@axiomnews.ca, or 705-741-4421 ext. 26.

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