Message construction


Today CMC hosted a training for how Columbus faith communities can be in solidarity with immigrants.  The event was put on by Faith in Public Life, Central Ohio Worker Center, Church World Service, and Columbus People’s Partnership.  There were 40-50 people present, four of us from CMC.

One of the presenters, Dan Nejfelt, talked about messaging and the media.  One of his topics has broad application for how we might talk to others about any topic of concern.

Dan noted there has been lots of research done about what makes for a compelling message.  He proposed a message construction with these elements, in this order:

Values -> Problem -> Solution -> Action

Starting with values is a way of naming the Why of our concern and can establish common ground.  After naming the problem that conflicts with these values, a solution describes the outcome we want.  Dan encouraged us to keep in mind that policies are means to a solution, but not the solution itself.  Actions are ways people can concretely act to help achieve the solution to the problem and uphold values.

As a way of practicing, here’s an attempt to follow this message construction regarding the current  BREAD campaign and upcoming Nehemiah Action gathering.

I want to live in the kind of community that provides all children with a supportive environment for healthy relationships and personal flourishing. (Values)

We have a cultural mentality of punishing bad behavior rather than restoring relationships.  During the 2015-16 school year Columbus City Schools issued over 26,000 suspensions to a student body of less than 50,000 (as reported to the state of Ohio).  Overall, suspensions are ineffective at changing behavior, disproportionately affect people of color, and are a part of the school to prison pipeline. (Problem)

Restorative practices are a proven form of reducing suspensions and improving school learning environments.  Rather than focusing on punishment of the wrong doer, restorative practices address the harm done and involve the community in creating a solution.  Cities such as Oakland, Pittsburgh, and Baltimore are already seeing measurable changes through their implementation of restorative practices in their schools.  Columbus City Schools is actively looking for alternatives to suspensions and open to what works.  (Solution)

Join with over 2000 people of faith from around Franklin County at the BREAD Nehemiah Action this coming Monday at the Celeste Center at 6:30!  Columbus City Schools Superintendent Dr. Dan Good will be present to make commitments to work with BREAD for establishing restorative practices in our schools.  Your presence will make a difference.  (Action)