The Power of Human-Centered Storytelling

SESW & The Humanos Institute hosted storytelling workshops across the region to help entrepreneurs and enterprises communicate their positive impact with depth and emotional resonance

Human-centred Storytelling for Impact Workshops in Southwest Ontario

Human-centred Storytelling for Impact Workshops in Southwest Ontario

Humanos employ a design thinking lens to create compelling human-centered stories that both resonate and intertwine value proposition with social enterprises’ theory of change. The resulting stories powerfully align human, social, and business dimensions for maximum impact.

We are very excited to share a couple stories that were developed in these sessions, showcasing the power of human-centered storytelling:

Story of Inception
(Windsor, ON)

Three Indian children, a Canadian friend and the inception of INpact. Relationships that grow without a language mediating between two people, are the most pure and precious ones.

One such relationship brought INpact Collective into idea and existence. Our founder Dylan Verburg was working in India on his Master’s research project. His work site was a sewage contaminated lake in the Northern corners of Delhi. There he befriended three siblings who at the time were living there with their mother. The eldest of them helped Dylan with his everyday research work - he rowed a boat for him and helped him in establishing a water treatment system. Guddu is illiterate. His younger siblings Kisan and Maya were too young to help, but they played around and watched movies whenever Dylan had a break from work.

Together they learnt how to count from their “gora” friend, and showed him their cartwheeling talents as a thank you. A dire need to help these innocent lives in having a better future arose in his heart, but what about the rest? This instance is far from an isolated occurrence. Sadly, the streets of Delhi and much of India are full of children with similar stories - unable to go to school and be afforded the basic human right of education.

What about those who beg at the red lights on his usual way to work? What about those who waited his table when he was visiting a dhaba? What about the kids who barely had an education and then lost one or both of their parents? With a literacy rate of 74% all over the country, India needs a bigger movement, better programs. There came INpact Collective. INpact came into existence because a human being fell in love with other human beings. He saw their sorrow and he saw the potential of these other humans. He saw how he, and many others like him, can bring them a better future.

Dylan, along with his Indian partner Aditi, their guiding force @Epicenter uWindsor and many volunteers on both sides of the world, built this organisation. INpact Collective brings quality artisan products from corners of India to the socially aware people of Canada. The profits earned go completely towards funding various educational programs devised and run in Delhi by us and other partner groups. The journey that began from Guddu, Kisan and Maya has now expanded to many other families in Delhi. In the process, we have also helped artisans earn better living, by bringing their products in front of a new audience. We are also providing socially aware citizens in Canada a chance to support a cause that can change innumerable lives.

Storytelling workshop at Innovation Works, London, Ontario.

Storytelling workshop at Innovation Works, London, Ontario.

Exit Matters
Story of Exit Matters by Jennifer Davis
(Waterloo, ON)

Exit Matters is a game developed for the target audience in various fields of family counselling.

When people find out about my mission to encourage people to talk about the last grand exit at the end of life, they often ask me why I am so passionate about this. My closest guess is that I grew up with grandparents who saw death as a natural part of life.

Whether it was those early beginnings or something else that lead me to become a hospice volunteer at age 35, it was through my volunteering that I realized not everyone was as comfortable as I was in speaking about end of life and what matters in life. Sitting in on focus groups with community members, nurses and doctors, and other professionals who work in and around the end-of-life field, the same phrase kept getting spoken over and over – “Yes, we know we need to have these conversations about end of life and sharing our wishes but we don’t know how to start them”.

Being with my 2 sons over the summer in 2015, and playing board games together, I knew that a kind of magic can happen when we sit down at a table, focus on the activity of the game, and be present with each other. And that’s the perfect atmosphere for a conversation around what really matters to us – in life and even to those last minutes.

Once I got the idea, I went to the Dollar Store for bristol board, markers and sticky notes and created a board, cards and a menu to fill in and the game Exit Matters was born. I wanted to create a traditional board game that would be familiar and comfortable for people, but I used the infinity symbol as the path around the board and circles instead of squares to land on because of the symbolism of these elements. The circle of life and death has been and will go on forever. After playing that game with over 100 people, I evolved the game board first to hand-drawn canvas and then a digital version co-created with an artist that is now printed on fabric.

Starting a new business isn’t easy. Starting a business where the core products and services revolve around talking about the last grand exit (the ultimate elephant in the room) is definitely not easy. But sharing these games with so many people, including my own family, has brought clarity and purpose to people’s work and life.


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