"Compassionate public interest stories help people connect to an issue, take action, and change their behavior."
Storytelling has helped humans survive, understand the world, and connect with others since before written language. It is the perfect art form when you want to communicate deeply. *Neuroscience shows compelling stories “light up our brains” and empathetically engage us, putting us solidly in the protagonist’s shoes where we invest more fully in the outcome than with data alone.
Illustrated public interest stories are especially powerful because the topics concern the well-being of us all. By tapping into audience values, weaving in facts and data, and adding illustrations for more connection and understanding, these stories bring realizations that can change our behavior while building unity, openness, and curiosity about solving imminent issues—something we desperately need. The following examples show the main types of public interest stories I create—multi-panel and single-panel.
Long-standing tradition causing harm
(Navigate by swiping the image or tapping the dots below.)
The imminent loss of a pivotal creature
This pika, a wildflower-loving bunny cousin, is only about the size of a large avocado, but it is essential to the environment. In its rocky habitat in the mountains, its activities enrich the soil and feed a variety of species. Although not considered endangered, pikas are extremely sensitive to heat and vulnerable to losing their habitat. As temperatures have risen, they have moved higher and higher in elevation. Eventually, they will be unable to go any higher and will die out. When that happens, the environment and other species will suffer when its job is left undone.
Do you have a story to tell that concerns the common good? An illustrated public interest story could make all the difference in your results.
NEW PUBLIC INTEREST STORY SERIES IN THE WORKS!
In May 2023, I received a grant from the South Lake Tahoe Arts, Culture, and Tourism Commission to create an ebook of six public interest stories. Through art and storytelling, this community project aims to start compassionate, non-threatening conversations about our environmental challenges and encourage positive behavior changes that protect Tahoe. It will be available for free download in English and Spanish on Earth Day weekend, 2024.
The facts and data in the stories come from local organizations, and a community survey is helping to influence the direction the stories take. (The survey was available to locals until July 31st, 2023.)
*I am not a scientist; I'm a storyteller. Still, I LOVE science, and this information about neuroscience and storytelling comes from numerous studies. Here is a link to a starter article that cites some ongoing work to whet your appetite. Here is a more in-depth paper, Why Inspiring Stories Make Us React: The Neuroscience of Narrative by Paul J. Zak, Ph.D. Dr. Zak's work on this topic is relatively well-known. Still, there are many other papers and studies to explore, as well as less science-focused examples by authors such as Lisa Cron. I hope these examples help to pique your curiosity.