The culture I’ve grown up in relies almost entirely on the written word for communication. E-mail, annual reports, Twitter, Power Point and case files are tools of a world that has forgotten oral tradition. Most of the information I’ve digested throughout my education was read off of a screen or page. I don’t believe this is a bad thing, but there is some magic to storytelling that has been lost somewhere along the way. In this way, JOIN is countercultural in the value we place on storytelling.
JOIN’s organizational culture revitalizes face to face communication. Everything from how we prioritize monthly retreats, to how our downstairs office space is designed, to the almost total lack of email communication between staff members is geared towards promoting conversation. JOIN is so fortunate to have had the influence of Lio’s Samoan culture that, for thousands of years, has had a rich history of oral tradition and verbal communication. From my desk, I can hear Lio begin meetings with our folks, “So, tell me what is going on.” He creates space for a conversation, not an interview to fill in the blanks on an intake sheet. From the big blue armchair, our folks are asked to tell their story. This is the foundation of building a relationship, and storytelling the first step towards empowerment.