Long before the invention of keystrokes, written script and the type press, storytelling was tied to oral traditions. Human stories are best told through voice and the words, tones, and emotions it carries to bring understanding of ideas. Fast forward through the centuries and the craft of storytelling has adapted alongside the latest technology to continue to connect hearts and minds through voices that invite listeners to relate to a storyteller on a very personal level.
In the Sarasota-Manatee area, more than 15% of the population is primarily Spanish-speaking, and that number is steadily growing. As a community connector, we know at the Community Foundation of Sarasota County that speaking authentically about our community’s needs, and opportunities to connect with resources and causes, needed to be delivered to Spanish-speaking communities in a new way. In 2019 we began revising our communications with Spanish speakers in mind. This first began with updating our website and quickly evolved into planning a series with Solmart Media, a locally owned Spanish-language media company, to give voice through interview to nonprofit leaders. The initial radio program launched just ahead of the 2020 Giving Challenge and featured Fair Food Standards Council, Healthy Start Coalition of Sarasota County, and our foundation staff who are fluent in Spanish.
A few weeks after this series launched, the global pandemic changed how we all lived. Radio became more vital than ever to provide people with timely, trustworthy information about our new way of living – and important reports and resources needed to navigate our changing world.
So in Fall 2020, we regrouped again with Solmart to expand our initial efforts to truly ensure their listeners, about 305,000 or so across southwest Florida, were aware of local resources that could empower them to overcome pandemic hardships and realize future possibilities. Over the course of six months, 16 local organizations and community leaders spanning causes from human services to the arts joined the conversation, held virtually over Skype. With each recording, even more invaluable insight about emerging needs and access to assistance found its way to Spanish-speaking audiences, across languages, across generations.
The story doesn’t end there, however.
Several months following this storytelling effort, our partnership reengaged those same organizations. This time, they were invited to share something a little different: a pandemic positive, a bright moment, a pride point that got them through it all. How had they impacted another’s life during the pandemic, or how were they touched by an act of generosity? The tales that followed were a testament to the resiliency of our community and its willingness to heal as well as reimagine.
This commitment to listening and talking in many languages ensures conversations are two-sided and ongoing. The power of storytelling is the quickest way to the heart. Be sure to tune in.
From enriching ESL programs to widening the path to financial stability, tune in below to hear and be inspired by local change-makers:
Community Care | Emergency Needs & Disaster Relief, Health & Hunger, Providing Stability
Empowerment and Success | Student Enrichment, Scholarship Opportunities, Career Development & Advancement
Belonging and Culture | Cultural Development & the Arts, Bridging Generations, Uniting Community