So, its 1st of Feb, 2017. A month into the new year, the new organisers updated, the new new-year-resolutions promised but far from resolved. January is the time to dream. Feb is the month to get real and that’s why today is a good day to start talking before we hit March, by when reality not only sucks but begins to suck you dry. Hope you agree.

12 years into the sector, we have all always wondered if there’s some more way to connect, to reach at a deeper level and often one ends up with a scattered mesh of thoughts and ideas. It’s the same here. I too have spent much of the last year figuring out ways to connect beyond the template and looked for something more deeper, only to realise that the deepest and most sophisticated of all thoughts and ideas are often the most simple.

In our sector of health, education and development communications, we often take final refuge in our project reports, ppts and of course the grand shelter of Data-the self congratulatory temple of numbers and statistics that mark our progress. We often follow the corporate business model of highlighting sales figures and pie charts in our own way to show figures of conversion and pie charts of change. In other words, important-but-boring.

Do we remember that face, those words, those human expressions of change. All that gets gobbled up in the smartly designed graphs of change. What we miss out is the humane face for the sake of the impact. What we miss out are the stories.

Stories. Our collective experiences and interactions get lost in the macro-programmatic agendas and thus we forget to both document and recall. Our memory too is hardwired to remember data, the bigger the better. But do we remember the stories? How our stories get merged with their stories, stories of hope, change, dreams, tragedies, struggles, fights, demands, dissent, progress, loss, journeys, coincidences, partnerships, victories. Each of our projects and programmes bring in so many stories. How many do we remember? Count on your fingers, how many?

In 2017, Inverted Commas completes 12 years and we realize its time to change, once more. We embark on a new journey, to remember and document as many stories we come across in our journeys and programmes. This comes with experience more than anything else. We forget that it’s the individual stories that shape our worldview, our ways of approaching projects, our lens that filters our creative, something so basic, so critical. Yet in the larger scheme of things, human stories and experiences get boxed as case studies. We hope to depart from that well trodden template. This world is full of stories and experiences, much more than we can collectively imagine. Its time to bring in those imaginations to the fore.

Help us in this journey, tell us, share with us, join us. Together, lets excel in storytelling first and feed data into excel later. Will hope to hear from each and everyone of you and your stories.

(Sometimes it just takes on picture to distill all thoughts and more imaginatively articulate all that text. This painting by Mats Rehnman, a master storyteller and painter does just that. We are all full of stories. We owe this one for this visual, big time.)