my favorite reframing strategy: expand the frame

last week, during a session of the media for movement building course i’m co-teaching (with marie choi from making contact), i explained something out loud that i haven’t ever said before. i’ve always known that i’m an external processor and this just one example of that.

i was leading a session on framing and editing and i was explaining through some of css’s framing and reframing strategies. i shared with the class that my go-to reframing strategy is expand the frame. that is, when faced with an oppositional narrative, the way i change the story is by expanding what’s in the narrative frame*.

for example, when people come at me with anti-immigration speak, i ask them how they thought the people who wrote the constitution got here. another again, in my (emerging) fiction writing, i like to start off with a small detail that teaches something about a character. then, as the reader gets to know that character, that character helps them to understand the place. then, explaining about the place because part of explaining the world.

now, there are plenty of other framing strategies: this one is just my favorite. it’s just as possible to go in the other direction: start with the landscape and zoom in.

either way, having a set of (re)framing strategies is important. and, as terry marshall says, it’s actually probably the most important as change makers to have a variety of them to choose from to keep your opponent guessing.

*note: the distinction between opponents and oppositional narrative. it’s important for my sanity to position myself as opposed to narratives and not people. if i’m working against a narrative, i can go all out. if i’m working all out against particular people, not only does that feel bad, but i think it’s often harder to win. sometimes the people you set up as your opponents are the ones you actually want to be on your side.

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