This co-created framework is a starting point for artists, media makers, storytellers, journalists, and cultural producers to be accountable to the people and communities featured in their work.


Based on the adage “nothing about us, without us,” storytelling needs to be developed by, or in partnership with, those whose experiences are being shared. Creative collaboration centering the experiences and aspirations of communities is a feature of many long standing traditions in art, journalism, and storytelling. However, this work is often undervalued, or dismissed as aesthetically inferior in the fine art world and mainstream media. Intentional support of queer, disabled, black, indigenous, people of color and/or women -led media making is critical to ensure community histories, traditions, languages, and truths are honored, celebrated, and accurately represented with beauty, power, and authenticity.

We believe collaboration across lines of difference can be important to foster equitable and democratic societies. When collaborating with communities that are not your own it is crucial to constantly examine power dynamics, and follow the leadership of the community or those directly impacted by the issues at hand. Enter communities respectfully, by listening first, and ask if and how the work can be of service to community needs and desires. Ensure community members are included in strategy and development for films and other storytelling platform projects, during both creation and distribution. Facilitate participatory processes so folks who are most impacted by the issues raised shape how the storytelling project can be most useful to them and their work. Identify, provide, or collaborate for the longer term necessary resources, training, and/or support to ensure community-led media work continues into the future.


Be frank about the challenges and lessons learned along the way. Support, document and develop community stories as they are unfolding while being sure to call upon the wisdom of our youth, elders and ancestors. Highlight efforts building towards a just and sustainable future, while being honest about harms and the healing needed to get there. Incorporate story gathering and sharing in many types of environments, and in many forms, including but not limited to animation, ceremony, dance, documentary film, fictional film, multimedia projects, music, performance, ritual, songs, story circles, theater, virtual reality, and visual art. Provide a variety of pathways to inspire a multiplicity of visions for making another world possible.


Our cultures and perspectives are all influenced by structural racism, capitalism, patriarchy, colonialism, homophobia, and other oppressive institutions – whenever possible, aim to address these factors head on with integrity, transparency and through a lens of transformative justice. Work in ways that dismantle oppressive and colonial structures, practices, habits and instincts. This includes resisting hierarchical thinking that can result in the celebration of hero narratives that reduce the leadership, vision, hard work and struggle of multitudes into the simple story of a single person. Value, show, and hold many perspectives and truths, demonstrating that a multiplicity of story allows us to decolonize our minds away from the assumption that there is only one right way. We believe there are many ways we can work towards our collective liberation and aim to highlight as many of them as possible, all ways, always.

These Principles were created by an Advisory Committee that included: 

Jade Begay, Indigenous Rising Media

Noel Didla, Tougaloo College and Lumumba Transition Team

Jayeesha Dutta, Working Films and Another Gulf Is Possible Collaborative

Eli Feghali, New Economy Coalition and Beautiful Solutions

Jodi Lasseter, North Carolina Climate Justice Summit

Anna Lee, Working Films

Liana Lopez, Climate Justice Alliance

Molly Murphy, Working Films

Bryan Parras, Sierra Club and Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services

Jacqueline Patterson, NAACP Climate and Environmental Justice Program

Rachel Plattus, Beautiful Solutions

Michael Premo, Storyline

Katie Taylor, NAACP Climate and Environmental Justice Program

Felicia Perez, Center for Story Based Strategy

Remy, The Indian Problem

Adopted by the following allies:

Artists and Creators

Kira Akerman (filmmaker)

Lawrence Barriner II (narrative strategist)

S. Leo Chiang (filmmaker)

Luisa Dantas (filmmaker)

Clement Guerra (filmmaker)

Silvia Prieto (animator and visual artist)

Tracy Rector (filmmaker)

Monique Verdin (filmmaker and visual artist)

Media, Storytelling and Arts Organizations

Another Gulf Is Possible Collaborative

Center for Story Based Strategy

Climate Justice Alliance

Defend Puerto Rico

Detroit Narrative Agency

Firelight Media

Indigenous Rising Media

MIT Community Innovators Lab

Mondo Bizarro

Please email to find out more.