Finding Your Stories

Stories reveal what is really happening in your community or organization
StoryGarden is designed to collect and analyze the stories of a community of any size and type ranging from geographic communities, to organizations and virtual communities of interest.
Here's an example where StoryGarden can help:

The community where I live is a transportation hub, having three of the region's automotive bridges across a river. One of the bridges - the original one that was built in 1936, was recently damaged by fire and needed to be closed while repairs were undertaken. The closing of the bridge severely affected traffic through the region, increasing travel times for everyone whether they were crossing a bridge or not. During the disruption people talked to one another and on radio phone-in shows and sent letters to the editors of local media. Also, the local media provided detailed coverage. The resulting information fuelled discussion in the community bringing out many new points about who was using the bridge and why. As the transportation experts heard more about everyone's issues, it became clear to them that a new bridge in a slightly different location would reduce traffic congestion throughout the community thereby improving commute times for everyone.

It so happens that the regional government's Transportation Authority was well along in their development plans to expand the bridge at the time of the bridge crisis. They had "consulted the community" prior to commencing their design work with two information sessions where the public was invited to attend and comment on the new bridge proposal. Like many community information sessions, not many citizens attended, and consequently not much was learned in the consultation process. Soon after, a decision was taken by the regional government to increase the number of traffic lanes of the existing bridge, doubling the throughput across the expanded bridge.

Now much more conscious of the issues about traffic patterns, our City Councillors and the community generally, challenged the regional government's transportation plan. Because most everyone was more aware of the implications of expanding the bridge, they were able to understand and react to the proposals presented by the transportation authority, with the result that the regional government agreed to re-design the bridge in light of the new knowledge about the community's use of the bridge.

This story relates a typical cycle in a community:

  • An event that affects people occurs
  • people start to talk about the impact of the event on their lives
  • media reporters collect and report on these stories
  • more people become of the issues and more stories result
  • administrators and politicians take up the issues
  • remedies are designed and implemented

In this traditional model, the input of the public is totally determined by the capacity of the media reporters and politicians to gather a diverse collection of stories.

How can StoryGarden help?
The thousands of stories that were written contained much more information that could have been analysed using the traditional methods currently available. StoryGarden's unique capabilities can vastly improve the analysis the stories collected by grouping and sub-grouping stories. The system allows rapid pre-hypothesis analyses to see what people are talking about and to then refine the analysis parameters so that the issues, values and attitudes found in the stories contributed by one sub-group can be compared and contrasted with those contributed by other sub-groups. This allows, for example the presentation of a statistical statement such as:

"Over 80% of respondents from Zone A were concerned about issue X whereas 20% of respondents from Zone B were concerned about Issue X".