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Behind the Talk: How to get past disconnection to social change

June 15, 2021
By Dr. Yabome Gilpin-Jackson

My recent TedxSFU talk: How to get past disconnection to social change was grounded in my research and practice that centers the narrative practice of Resonance. Resonance invites us to access the power of our personal stories to galvanize ourselves to action in social change and other complex and traumatic circumstances. I end the talk by inviting you to the commitment required to say Yes to social change and to find your Resonance story.

Transformation after Trauma: The Power of Resonance

I provide more details here on Resonance as published in my book: Transformation after Trauma: The Power of Resonance and a model I use to facilitate from Resonance to action which I call the Transform-in-Action cycle. I offer the below to trigger ideas for how you might apply these in your own contexts. However, as Peter Block who I quote in the Talk put it in communication with me, Resonance: “…transcends the dominant chit chat. It has to do with vibrations, music, sound, clarity, and the basis of connection. It may begin with a story, but it has nothing to do with words, or making a point or building an audience. It is a form of connection that cannot be commercialized.” So more than anything, I can tell you that when you experience Resonance you know it and you can choose to continually access and engage from Resonance to guide you through the complexities and traumas of social change and other justice issues. You can choose to keep saying yes.

Your Resonance story in relation to a social change issue anchors you to your own interior capacity that will sustain you on any social change/transformation journey. A Resonance story holds the following characteristics.

  1. It is memory-based, a remembrance from our past, to a person, or a trigger anchored in a thing, an image or event that leads to a Resonance moment.
  2. It deeply connects you to and signifies your life or organizational purpose
  3. It is experienced as a trigger with the quality of nostalgia
  4. It is a deeply emotional, and often a full-body, soul and spiritual experience
  5. It can emerge from events with positive or happy and/or negative or sad associations
  6. It provokes insight or precedes deliberate cognitive processing toward meaning-making and transformation
  7. You can have different Resonance stories relative to the different areas of your core life identities and transformational trajectory over time.
How Resonance Transforms

Once you anchor to Resonance, individually or collectively, it can inspire a concentric cycle of impact, to outcomes such as a clear purpose, deep social consciousness, moral and spiritual development, a deeper value for human connection and an overall determination to take action for change.

When I facilitate groups planning action for social change, I typically start with Resonance and work through unpacking:

  1. What about your story is creating resonance for you?
  2. What (re)newed purpose does it call you to?
  3. How does it shift your connection to others?
  4. How does it shift your worldview?
  5. What action(s) are you being called to?

Following this work, we then focus on three cycles of narrative dialogues to move from Resonance to action, using the transform-in-action cycle.

Transform -in-Action Cycle
  1. Understanding the landscape of issues (What needs to be transformed?)
    • What is the situation?
    • What is my current narrative of the situation?
    • What narrative do I want?
  2. Connecting deeply to the impacts of the issues (What is my interior state about this?)
    • What do I think about the situation?
    • How do I feel about it?
    • What interior experience do I want?
    • How has this impacted me and us?
  3. Determining what sustain actions are needed (What action is needed now?)
    • Acting from Resonance, what action can you take to transform the situation?

Hope these ideas serve you in your work.


This article is republished with permission from Dr. Gilpin-Jackson. Read the original article on her website at SLD Consulting.

Dr. Yabome Gilpin-Jackson (she/her/hers) is a multi-award winning scholar-practitioner in human & organization development with research awards and professional recognitions in Canada, UK and the United States including International African Woman of the Year by UK-based Women4Africa and the prestigious Harry Jerome Award given in recognition of Black-Canadian achievements and contributions. She is an executive leader, consultant and educator in Leadership, Organization Development and Transformative Learning in academia and across the private, public and non-profit sectors. She is adjunct/sessional faculty for undergraduate and graduate courses in her areas of expertise at Simon Fraser University, Concordia University and elsewhere. Dr Gilpin-Jackson holds a Ph.D. in Human Development from Fielding Graduate University where she is an Institute for Social Innovation Scholar. She initially received the social innovation award for her research and dissertation into the transformational leadership experiences of African immigrants and refugees. That research and 10 years of subsequent praxis is the basis for her groundbreaking book on Transformation After Trauma: The Power of Resonance. She is also the author of the Grey Zone Change framework, has written peer-reviewed journals and book chapters in Organization Development and Tranformation, short story collections about global African experiences (Identities & Ancestries) and is Lead Editor of the We Will Lead Africa book series. 

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