Essays that emerged from ivoh’s Restorative Narrative Retreat & Summit

This year’s ivoh Restorative Narrative Summit & Retreat prompted many attendees to write essays and blog posts about their experience. We’re moved by the responses we’ve received from attendees, many of whom said they came away feeling inspired and more hopeful about the future of media.

Here is a roundup of some of the attendees’ essays. If you wrote an essay about your time at the summit and would like to share it with us, please send it to


“OPINION; THE DOOR IS OPEN FOR RESTORING AMERICA’S NARRATIVE ON RACE,” by speaker Kenny Irby: “The state of race relations in America is both complex and nuanced. The new opportunities before America’s media are rooted in “restorative narratives” — stories that bring communities together, inspire hope, and reveal healing. Mallary Tenore of Images & Voices of Hope describes restorative narratives this way: ‘a story that follows a person or community through a meaningful progression from despair to resilience.’ Let the words of the civil rights struggle theme song, ‘We Shall Overcome,’ enter the door that has been flung open, dismantle the ills of structured racism and learn to live in harmony. It is often said that story of America will never be complete, until all of those in the story are a part of the storytelling. Only then can we affirm that all lives matter.  Are we telling those stories?”


“I’M THE LUCKY ONE,” by attendee Courtney Ball: “I attended a retreat as part of a media summit focused on trauma and resilience. We were given a writing assignment in which we were asked to honestly reflect on a personal story of unresolved trauma.” He goes on to share an essay he wrote about this writing assignment.


“ON THE ROAD WITH THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF ARTS AND CULTURE” by attendee and ivoh Award of Appreciation winner Adam Horowitz: “This conference offered and unpacked the useful concept of ‘restorative narrative.’ This phrase is intended to describe journalistic work that goes beyond the coverage of immediate devastation and trauma to a longer-term story of individual or community recovery and resilience. The restorative narrative framework is strongly resonant with the USDAC’s programming and its focus on imagining a future we want inhabit and help create.”


“RESTORATIVE NARRATIVES — FINDING HOPE AFTER DARKNESS,” by attendee Rob Kall: “The mainstream media feeds on “if it bleeds it leads” stories. Restorative narrative is a long haul, committed relationship approach compared the one night stand ‘if it leads it bleeds’ approach. Often it gets written long after the initial ‘bloody’ part of the story has been forgotten. As a long-time advocate for positive psychology I’ve learned that some of peoples’ most positive experiences come from rising above and surviving trauma and adversity. Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey concept, also known as the monomyth offers a way to characterize the response to such traumas and experiences of adversity as calls to cross a threshold to a new life — a heroic journey on a road of trials where we, through challenges and conflicts, build new strengths and resources. It is THE archetypal story of personal growth through challenge. It is a noble story, a profound alternative to victimhood.”


“REFLECTIONS ON STORIES, EMPATHY, AND HELPING PEOPLE BE HEARD,” by attendee Thaler Pekar: “The summit opened with members of its Fellows program, which provides five journalists with a stipend to spend six months telling Restorative Narratives. These are defined as ‘stories that show how people and communities are learning to rebuild and recover in the aftermath, or midst of, difficult times… locate the opportunity in disruption and move beyond questions of ‘what happened?’ to questions of ‘what’s possible?’ When asked what they have learned, one Fellow, Alex Tizon, offered, ‘It’s hard to give up narrative as central to the conflict. …I like the benevolent pressure I feel from this group, it forces me to work hard, to strive for empathy.’ Another Fellow, Rochelle Riley, observed, ‘It takes longer, because you have to wait for people to move forward.’ Time and patience continued to emerge as key components of empathetic story sharing.”


“MAKING A DIFFERENCE THROUGH THE MEDIA,” by attendee Megan Amrich: “Stories of trauma and disaster are multifaceted; they do not follow the simple ‘something bad happened, then we came in and saved them, and now everyone will live happily ever after’ storyline so often seen in the media. In describing her work with flood survivors in Portland, Oregon, self-described ‘story midwife’ Laura Lo Forti said she reminds herself that the community is not the flood, and the real importance is in telling the larger narrative. Yes, an image of a crying child will evoke emotion and capture attention, but sharing a bit about the reasons for those tears can bring about even greater progress in addressing the issue. By the end of the weekend, I had met an incredible array of thinkers, speakers and doers, all equally eager to bring positive change. I left the summit with a renewed sense of purpose, and a sense that yes, someone who works in corporate social responsibility and sustainability communications did in fact belong at that conference after all.”


Click this link for more photos and stories from ivoh’s summit.

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