by Amber Bellazaire, Health Policy Analyst and
Parker James, Kids Count Policy Analyst
Defining people by their aspirations. Telling a more holistic story with positive narratives to counter and prevent stigma. Valuing people, building relationships and recognizing others’ assets.
These were some of the a-ha moments experienced at our 2019 policy forum, where Trabian Shorters presented on asset-framing. Too often we define people by their worst circumstances while omitting their strengths. By associating individuals and communities with a cloud of negative words such as “disadvantaged,” “underserved” and “marginalized,” we stigmatize and sow fear and distrust.
Instead we can connect to others by way of our shared values, like prosperity and fairness. We can build on people’s aspirations and assets to advance our collective well-being.
Following Trabian’s presentation, attendees immediately set out to put this learning to action. Some workshopped their organization’s mission, bringing to it a more pronounced asset frame. Others discussed how to incorporate asset-framing into their advocacy for policy change. Those who participated in our 21-Day Racial Equity Challenge were able to debrief and connect those materials to the keynote presentation.
Attendees shared commitments to take concrete action beyond the forum, including:
- Apply asset frame to community engagement process
- Review current strategic plan and note which objectives are asset-based vs. deficit-based
- Look for positive data
- Rethink how to write grant proposals
- Change some of the language we use in reports
- Assess operations
- New mission statement
- Know the people we are serving more deeply
- Focus less on the challenges and more on the strengths
- Approach debates, hard conversations with a positive narrative
Additionally, attendees pledged to share the concept of asset-framing with:
- Department and supervisor
- Coworkers and staff members
- Inclusion team at work
- Planning team for all-staff diversity training
- Fellow board member
By committing to action and sharing this information, we hope to continue the work of reframing negative narratives to provide a more holistic understanding and build toward a positive vision together. Thanks to all who attended the League’s 2019 policy forum and to our sponsors who helped us bring Trabian Shorters to Lansing.