One powerful tool we have to change policy is our stories. Montana Women Vote uses storytelling to build power in our communities, amplifying the voices of our members and sharing stories with policymakers.

Why stories?

When we say story we are talking about experiences that have been turned into a narrative in an effort to impact policy or hearts and minds. All you need  is an experience that explains why you feel a certain way about a policy or social issue. Why do you care about Medicaid? Has someone in your life benefited from it? Then you take this experience and craft it into a narrative that has an action ask at the end. Here are some of the many ways your experiences can be shared:

  • Storybook – A storybook is a pamphlet that contains a number of stories relating to a specific policy. This pamphlet is shared with legislators.

  • Letter to the Editor – A letter to the editor is a letter sent to a publication, often a newspaper, sharing something that is of concern to a reader. Letters to the editor, also known as LTE’s, are short, concise, and straight to the point. Many letters to the editor are in response to a particular article, however others are simply sharing opinions or experiences people think the readers of the publication should know about. LTE’s are an easy way for you to engage in changing the social dialogue around different policies, identities, and life experiences.

  • Testifying  Giving testimony is one of the most effective ways to educate legislators and policymakers about the impact, either positive or negative, that proposed legislation or legislative change might have.Legislators and other policymakers aren’t always aware of all the implications a particular piece of legislation may have on their constituents. Testimony when presented to the Montana Legislature lasts round 3 minutes and has a few important components: your name, your experience and reason why you care about a specific bill, and your ask (support or oppose bill).

    • Oral testimony is very powerful, especially when the testifier speaks directly instead of reading from their written testimony.Your testimony should be short—no longer than 3 to 5 minutes. It is most effective when you speak from your own personal experience. As a general rule, testimonies should be delivered verbally and also submitted in writing.

  • Connecting with Journalists – The purpose of connecting with journalists is to publicize and share in a wider forum your experience or your experience and how it connects to policy. hat you get a professional writer to give a more in depth look at your experience, and how it relates to certain policies or public opinion. It allows for more nuance, and creates a shareable piece in a publication written by a professional writer.

  • Videos for changing public sentiment – Video can be used in a wide variety of ways, it can be used for everything from encouraging action from community members, to sharing a story meant to change the minds of community members, to shifting cultural attitudes through self representation.

  • A few other examples of how stories can be used: graphic images/mems, speachmaking at rallies or events, radio interviews, podcast interviews, etc.