Thursday, December 30, 2010


Please say hello to the latest podcast episode. Either go to iTunes to subscribe, or click the audio player above. This episode is a chat with Patrick Reinsborough, the co-founder of the smartMeme strategy and training project, and co-author, with Doyle Canning, of the book "Re:Imagining Change: How to Use Story-Based Strategy to Win Campaigns, Build Movements, and Change the World."

So what's a meme and how can it be smart? Skip ahead if you're already in the know. According to smartMeme's website, in daily life we "constantly encounter pieces of culture that carry meaning for us such as customs, ideas, symbols, slogans, or rituals. All of these act as containers for cultural information that spread virally from person to person, moment to moment, generation to generation. These self-replicating units of culture that take on a life of their own are 'memes' (rhymes with 'dreams')." If I'm not mistaken, a few holiday-themed memes would be kissing under mistletoe, or making New Year's resolutions, or singing Auld Lang Syne. These little containers, or vessels, are freighted with cultural meaning. Say, the idea that we can start anew on January 1st, or, in the case of mistletoe, this curious Scandinavian legend. SmartMeme contends that these "units of culture" can be creatively used to advance progressive political change. If we live by stories -- whole belief systems that get encapsulated in "memes" like "family values" or "missile defense" or "the war on terror" -- then we can change by stories. That's the subject of smartMeme's very smart book, "Re:Imagining Change," an great read for grassroots campaign organizers. Aside from the book, the organization has various services, including training, messaging, and more. They contend that movement communications must not focus strictly on the facts -- though they must be truthful -- but on meaning. Good way to do that: stories.

Please, listen to the podcast, and go buy that book if you're so inclined!


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