Inspiring Action through Reflection: Introducing Our Stories of Change Discussion Guides

by freya July 25, 2023

It has been nearly six months since we launched Stories of Change, documenting how a systems change approach is transforming our work and our region. In late January, nearly 250 people gathered at the City Opera House to connect, celebrate, and hear the stories come alive on stage. 

Three initiatives shared how they have been:

  • Focusing on addressing the upstream and systemic causes of complex community issues rather than only the symptoms or consequences of those problems; 
  • Deeply collaborating, sharing accountability and power between those working on all areas of an issue and those who have experienced its consequences firsthand;
  • Using a constellation of emerging actions and ongoing learning to transform the factors that underlie the problem.

Since sharing Stories of Change, we have been overwhelmed by the response we’ve received. The publication and video have traveled the globe, reaching practitioners, funders, and capacity builders in 41 countries! We’ve heard back from many saying that the stories provide new clarity about the nature of this kind of work, inspiration, and hope. People are sharing the stories and video with their staff, boards, and partners, initiating new conversations about their role in addressing the roots of complex community-level issues.

"Stories of Change helped us go from - my hair is on fire and we need to do something, anything - to there are smart people in our community who have tackled the root causes of some big issues. We were especially impacted by the approach taken by the Northwest Michigan Coalition to End Homelessness and how they involved at-risk youth to craft solutions."
Jay Berger, Co-Founder, Safer Kids, Safer Schools 


“Stories of Change has given us a clear and compelling picture of systems change work in action. It reveals a truth that, once seen can’t be unseen: if we are serious about addressing any social issue, we must go beyond the surface and be willing to reexamine everything we think we know about the problem. We are grateful to have this resource to draw from and inspired to apply the learning it so beautifully shares.” 
- Billy McGuinness, Executive Director, Seabury Foundation 


We are delighted to be able to respond to what we’re hearing is needed next - help in turning inspiration into action! We continued our work with Stories of Change author Jessica Conrad to develop three new reflection and discussion guides to accompany the publication. Each guide targets a different audience: funders, experienced systems change practitioners, and those new to systems change but curious about its potential. The guides can be used for individual reflection or, ideally, individual reflection that is then processed with a group of stakeholders committed to moving from insight to new action. 

Questions follow sections of Stories of Change and ask readers to consider different key aspects of each story and how they relate to their own experience and practice. Some questions invite readers to go to the next level and imagine how their reflections and insights might be applied to improve their own work on complex community issues. 

We hope these new guides will help make Stories of Change something that anyone can begin to apply today. If you’re looking for more learning opportunities around systems change, check out Freya’s four-part blog series and stay tuned for the Systems Change On-Ramp II, focused on exploring complex problems and finding new leverage points for change.  

New Practitioner Discussion Guide            

Experienced Practitioner Discussion Guide           

Funder Discussion Guide

If Stories of Change and these guides spark new insights or action for you, we would love to hear from you! Please reach out to Freya Bradford, Rotary Charities Director of Systems Change & Learning:, or on LinkedIn.

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