Since there have been people to tell them there have been stories.  Stories that connect us, teach us, remind us, inspire us, call us to action. Stories are social and cultural. Stories preserve our history and instill our values. Stories use emotion to stick to our brain cells and live in our neural libraries.
Why are stories so powerful? When the elements of character, action, conflict, and resolution come together we solitary beings are invited to step outside of ourselves into something bigger, something better.  And that is powerful.
Researchers have studied the brain and how it is that emotion triggers reactions, so we don’t need to try to figure it out.  We know that finding the heart of a story, the face of a story, is necessary to telling an effective story.
Why do stories connect us? We are social creatures and many of us thrive in the company of others.  Finding kindred spirits is easier through stories. When we see ourselves in any of the elements of a story the connection is made. We connect when the telling of a tale moves beyond facts into impact.  The story must answer this important question: So what?
But how does that relate to Rotary and Rotary stories? Because when we share our stories, we share the power of Rotary. And the power of Rotary is a magnet that pulls people into a connection to their purpose.
What makes a Rotary story?  The same elements as every other story. Let’s build a story guided by the Four-Way Test:
  1. Find the truth in what happens.
  2. Find the balance (fairness) in the need and solution.
  3. Reveal the friendship built in the process.
  4. Share the benefit of the whole project.
Consider the standard structure of a fairy tale:
  • Once upon a time
  • And every day
  • Until one day
  • And because of this
  • And because of this
  • Until finally
Try it on a familiar Rotary activity.
Once upon a time there was a village.  And every day people in the village walked a long way to carry water back to drink and to water their gardens.  But plants didn’t grow, and people were getting sick. Until one day Rotarians came and tested the water. And because of this the people learned that the water was not healthy. And because of this the Rotarians helped them dig a well to have safe water. Until finally the people stopped getting sick, and their gardens grew.
We could add that this was funded by a global grant with ten partners and coordinated through a local NGO. Yes, these facts are important, but when you read the words: people stopped getting sick. Did you smile? Did you feel a little thrill of happiness?
Even little stories have power. Simple stories can move us.  We all have them.  It’s time to tell them, to share them, to enjoy them. 
Lynn Perez-Hewitt, M.Ed., APR
District 6250 Public Image Chair 2021-2024