Personal Narrative

P E R S O N A L   N A R R A T I V E  

We recognize that our human stories are extremely powerful and learning how to  share them, aids us along our transformation as individuals and communities as we evolve into powerful agents of change.

The second Core Principle of Peaceful Uprising is: “Our human stories are extremely powerful, and genuine sacrifice has the ability to awaken and inspire others.”  Peaceful Uprising itself is a personal narrative of personal transformation, beloved community, and our quest to confront our current reality and emerge as powerful agents of change that have been transformed spiritually, emotionally, and mentally.

Learning how to share our personal narratives is a tool that we often place on the back burner, when in fact it is a crucial if we truly to play a part in expanding the consciousness of the world. Take for instance, the story of Tim DeChristopher, a narrative that has inspired and ignited a movement.  A story of one individual, who after hearing IPCC Scientist Terry Root speak, mourned for his own future and through that despair, found the courage and the conviction to take action.  Parts of Tim’s story have been lost as it spread; many don’t know that Tim was unsure of how to proceed in the auction room until he turned around to see a friend crying, and in her despair he found, again, the courage to raise the bidder paddle and become the now infamous, Bidder 70.  

We all have our own stories, our personal journeys that have led us to who we are today.  Learning how to tell your personal journey and make it salient to your audience (be it one person or a crowd of hundreds) is an art form in itself.  Peaceful Uprising has held workshops on working on your personal narrative, but it is a process and one you can only do by digging into your own journey, your own personality, and then tailoring that story to your audience.  

Another incredible example of the power of personal narratives is what we saw happen with those who participated in the Tar Sands Action. Many of those who were arrested began talking to their families, friends and neighbors about why they felt it was worth putting their bodies on the line to stop the Keystone XL Pipeline.  That narrative alone opened up a conversation amongst people who had perhaps never given much thought to the role of civil disobedience, especially in regards to someone close to them.  Personal narratives open the pathways for conversation - they bypass stereotypes, politics, and challenge our own pre-conceived notions and values.  By sharing a part of yourself with the world, you challenge the world to expand - to view the issues not through facts, but through another human being.  

Our challenge to you: Take some time to work on your personal narrative.  Think of who you are today and who inspired you.  Who challenged you?  What human stories have shaped you?  You can use personal narrative workshops like this one from our friends at or just start writing!  You’ll be surprised at the power of your own voice.


The Most Amazing Online Organizing Guide Ever
Education & Training

The guide is authored by over 30 of the top online organizers from a spectrum of progressive movement groups: from, Freedom to Marry, New Organizing Institute, Avaaz, GetEqual, Greenpeace, Idle No More, Open Media, and many others.The guide is 80...

Letter from a Birmingham Jail

When he was jailed in Birmingham for a non-violent protest against segregation, he wrote an open letter explaining why the movement needed to escalate its efforts. Although this letter was written with respect to the civil rights movements, the lessons...

Tell Your Story Workshop

Story-telling is one of our most powerful tools as organizers and movement builders. The following sessions developed through close collaboration with Marshall Ganz and our friends at the New Organizing Institute discuss why story-telling matters and some...