The Lamorinda Democratic Club's monthly meeting on Thursday, May 10 will feature a discussion about "Move Our Message: How to Get America's Ear" with Susan Strong.
SUSAN C. STRONG, Ph.D., founded the Metaphor Project in 1997, to assist progressives and liberals in mainstreaming their messages by framing them as part of the ideal American story. She brings a broad range of experience to her work with the Metaphor Project–from academic to activist.
She served as a Visiting Lecturer at U.C. Berkeley's Rhetoric Department (from 1980 to 1983) and also at the Communications Department of St. Mary's College, Moraga (1982-1985). She holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature; her thesis was on a topic about political metaphor in narrative. Since leaving the academic world, she has continued to do interdisciplinary research in the fields of American Studies, American political rhetoric, communications, metaphor and social change, framing and other topics relevant to the work of The Metaphor Project.
Beginning in 1985, she focused more of her day to day work on being an activist leader, non-profit staff writer, and columnist about issues of peace, environment, and ecological sustainability. She is a former Senior Research Associate at the Center for Economic Conversion (Mountain View) and a former Peace Action National Board member, representing California. She also served as National Peace Action Strategy Co-Chair and was a co-founder of the original Peace Action Peace Economy Campaign. She was a co-founder of The 'Who's Counting?' Project as well.
Her new book, Move Our Message: How to Get America's Ear, helps progressive activists make change happen! Today our economy, our health, our environment and even our democracy face greater threats than ever before. We need messaging that can reach mainstream American audiences–framing our points about what needs to be done in a smart, accessible way. Game changing as “1%,” “99 %” and even “Occupy” are, we have to be able to say a lot more than that as 2012 unfolds. And we must say it in short punchy ways that also stick and transform.
The best way to achieve that goal is to practice “American Framing,” or “speaking American.” American Framing is a way of translating our own ideals, values, stories and policy goals into colorful political language that spreads. Most Americans understand phrases like “let’s move forward,” “play by the rules,” or “can do.” Everyday metaphors and short phrases like these form part of our enduring political lexicon. They evoke our ideal national identity as a people. The findings of modern cognitive science validate what communications specialists have known for years: this kind of storytelling language persuades the best.
We progressives can express our own messages using that kind of easily understood language with complete integrity. Ours can be the “American truthbites” that finally bring an issue into the open. Only then will there be an audience for our talking points and the nuances they may express. Move Our Message: How to Get America’s Ear is packed with practical guidance on how to connect with mainstream American audiences. The book includes chapters on what American Framing is, why it works, and examples of “speaking American” about peace, justice, and environmental sustainability. Part III, the “how to” section, contains the most up-to-date versions of The Metaphor Project’s time-tested tools, resources, and message-building steps.
More information about Susan and the Metaphor Project at http://www.metaphorproject.org