Here is an interesting thread of insight for organizers who work in "oral cultures" including of us that work in environmental advocacy, worker rights, health, politics and other communities. We have seen the themes of this storytelling blog play out again and again in community meetings across the US.
The "professionals and organizers" want to keep the meeting short and punchy while the "old church ladies" (which includes people that are also young or male) want to gab and gab. They want to tell a story that seems like a crazy ramble. They want to make the audience listen. They can go on and on with an endless story of why they are there. People want to be heard at length and it drives the "professionals" nuts.
This blog post on Blogim Stori is a note of respect for the nonlinear ramblers....Here is a really interesting riff on the redundancy that is a finding from research on story telling in oral cultures.
"Once redundancy characterizes oral thought and speech, it is in a profound sense more natural to thought and speech than is sparse linearity. Sparse linear or analytic thought and speech are artificial creations, structured by the technology of writing.... With writing, the mind is forced into a slowed-down pattern that affords it the opportunity to interfere with and recognize its more normal, redundant processes."
Kudos to Mark and Shawn for the find.
When you are in community meetings the issue people feel and story creation needs time to breathe. The frustration and anger and outrage needs time to "catch fire". The redundancy of local community leaders baffles the "professionals" but in reality they are working in a way that is most wired into the way we learn as a species in oral histories.
I used to wonder why church in Jamaica took 3 hours. The old priest used to say when it takes an hour to walk there and an hour to walk home in the sun it better take more than 20 min for the priest to talk about god. In truth, there may be something deeper about the way summons go "on and on". They are organizing through story telling in oral cultures. The literacy rate is low and audience needs time to index and organize the stories. the audience needs time to redundant telling of the same stories to create mental pathways for the information to stick.
The truth is maybe these great grassroots leaders go on and on because it works and ultimately in oral cultures it is the most efficient way to communicate effectively. Anyway it is a cool thread of paths to explore.