Ideas for using Rakontu
These are some pie-in-the-sky ideas on how Rakontu might help your group achieve its goals. Maybe they'll get you thinking up your own ideas.
Ideas for neighborhoods
- When somebody new moves in, walk over with a plate of cookies and a web link.
- Get the kids to interview all the old folks, then make a book for every family on the block with the history of the area.
- Have a that-was-then this-is-now party and talk about what's changed in the neighborhood over the years. Record the whole thing, then get everybody to type up a few of the stories and build a history together.
- Don't just write letters to the editor about that old road that needs fixing! Put together a narrative history of the problem - how it got started, what's been done about it, how it has affected people, and why it's still not fixed - and present it to the town council when they meet.
- Get people to tell their personal stories about that sensitive issue that is dividing everyone. Maybe if people can hear what has happened to people on the other side they'll be a little less quick to judge.
- If you are a local official, consider having one of the techie people in your office set up a Rakontu site, and put a mention in your next newsletter that people can start groups for their blocks or streets or whatever.
Ideas for support groups
- Help people figure out if they have what you have. Collect stories about your symptoms and make them available in a searchable way so that people can diagnose their problem with less worry and fear.
- What works for whom, and why? Collect enough stories, and enough answers to questions about them, so that people who are looking for relief can do more than guess at what might work for them.
- Organize your stories by what people need when they come to the site. Sometimes people need encouragement, so they should read stories of empowerment and faith and success. Sometimes people need to know that others have gone through hard times too, so they should read stories about suffering and trying again and again to succeed. Sometimes people need answers, so they should read stories that feature people finding solutions. Give new people collages and search filters for each purpose. Help them get to where they feel better.
- If you are an organization whose mandate is to help people in a particular situation or with a particular problem cope and succeed, set up a Rakontu site. Tell the front-line crisis managers where people can go to find a group they can join. Hire experienced doctors, counselors and other helpers to participate in the Rakontus so they can help people find the help they need (and tell their stories too). Pay attention to the stories told in Rakontus. Look for opportunities to help that you hadn't seen before.
Ideas for families
- Finally sit grandma and grandpa down and get in a few nice long interviews. Ask them all about the old times when people did things right, and what it was like walking three miles to the one-room schoolhouse, and all of that stuff. Clean it all up, put it in a Rakontu, and get all the uncles and aunts to respond with their own versions of the way it was.
- Get those cousins who see each other once a year to start talking about their jobs and kids and pets together, so there is more to talk about at the holidays.
- Get everybody to tell some stories in time to make something for the niece to take with her on her visit to the distant relatives back in the old country. While she's there, see if any of them want to connect on the internet and keep in touch.
- Start off the next reunion with an "I remember" game, and put it all in the Rakontu so people can add some more before the next time.
Ideas for interest groups
- If you want to make political change happen, get a group of people together to tell stories about their experiences with the issue. Find out things that most people don't know about what it's really like to experience things like homelessness, or having a neglected disease, or falling prey to predatory lending practices, or going without health insurance. Work with the stories you collect, both to find out what sorts of patterns you didn't see before in the experiences and to find "gem" stories you can use to get your message across to the unfeeling multitudes.
- If you are a non-profit whose mandate is to raise awareness about an issue, create a Rakontu site and invite groups to create Rakontus around particular issues within the debate, or local chapters. Use the Rakontus to build connections between stories and between people to further your cause.
Ideas for workgroups
- Don't wait until projects are over to capture the learnings that went on.
Give people a Eureka! icon to put on their screen that helps them quickly record what they learned,
when they are still excited about passing it on. For example:
- An obstacle is gone - What was the problem and how did you solve it?
- A dilemma has been resolved - What did you have to decide? How did you make the decision?
- A mystery has been solved - What didn't you know and how did you find out?
- An unexpected discovery has been made - What do you know now that you didn't before?
- A turning point has been reached - What looks different now?
- Fictional characters are especially useful in situations where people are afraid to admit mistakes or to criticize those in authority. Use characters to get at the "ground truth" on how projects are going and what needs to be done.
- Invite some of your customers to join a Rakontu about some issue that relates to your product or service that you know your customers will consider useful. Or, invite all the people who send you nasty emails to a special feedback group (believe it or not, those people are actually quite nice: it's the people who didn't send the nasty emails who are more dangerous). Watch as people help each other, and be a resource to answer their questions as well. Invite people to tell stories about issues you are concerned about. See what they say.