Writing bold new story for Arkansas 

by Shantell Hinton-Hill ([email protected]) 912 views 

It’s been true since the beginning of time: Through the stories we tell, the voices we uplift and the stories we collectively embrace, narrative has the extraordinary power to shape our lives and our world.

Our narratives can forge a path toward a more equitable and just Arkansas. Getting there, however, will require intention, along with effective tools, resources and strategies. This is the purpose of the upcoming Starshine Narrative Summit, a collaborative effort between the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation and Reimagine Arkansas. Scheduled to take place June 30th in Little Rock, this pivotal, first-time convening will place the power of narrative at the epicenter and shake up the ways we pursue equity and justice in our state.

The Starshine Narrative Summit aims to allow every Arkansan to be heard, engaged, and actively contribute to discussions on improving our state. With half of all Arkansas households being ALICE (Asset-Limited, Income Constrained, Employed), we can harness the strength of narrative to reshape perceptions, challenge systemic inequities, and create a new Arkansas that works for everyone – especially those who work hard but struggle to make ends meet. Participants will leave the summit empowered to craft narratives to ensure all individuals, including ALICE, have the tools to move from survival mode to thriving.

Offered as a free, one-day conference, Starshine will be a platform for grassroots advocates, community-based organizations, and nationally-recognized figures to share their ideas and insights and for participants to engage in provocative conversations, hands-on workshops, and inspiring talks. Ultimately, this will be a thoughtfully-curated space to collectively plot a bold new roadmap along with compelling stories that center the voices of Arkansans, transforming policy, behavior, and societal norms.

Collaborating with Reimagine Arkansas, the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation acknowledges the importance of listening to those who matter most during critical moments. By uniting a symphony of voices, including artists, advocates, funders, and legislators, we can tap into the well of creativity needed to shine the way to a new narrative for Arkansas—one that is a more accurate reflection of the experiences, aspirations, and challenges of its people.

Rev. Shantell Hinton-Hill.

The summit’s keynote speakers include Rev. Cory Anderson, chief innovation officer at the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation; Joyce Elliott, former Arkansas state senator; Ayana Gray, New York Times bestselling author; Dr. Carmen Rojas, president and CEO of the Marguerite Casey Foundation; Clarke Tucker, Arkansas state senator; and Harvey Williams, co-founder and CEO of Delta Dirt Distillery. 

In our time together, we will explore the following: 

  • The power of storytelling;
  • The importance of representation and reaching a diverse audience;
  • How to create inclusive and empowering narratives;
  • Insights on engaging community voices;
  • Ways to creatively capture the public and media’s attention;
  • Creating impactful visuals to communicate change; and
  • Casting a vision for a future that builds solidarity and inspires action.

The day will be a clarion call to listen, learn and actively participate in the transformation of Arkansas. Centering the potential of narrative as a north star and amplifying the voices that have been silenced for too long, the Starshine Narrative Summit will equip its participants to create a place where everyone has the opportunity to prosper.

Take this transformative journey with us from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on June 30 at the Robinson Center in Little Rock. To register, visit starshinesummit.com.

Editor’s note: Rev. Shantell Hinton-Hill is the Senior Equity Officer for the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation. The opinions expressed are those of the author.