Storytelling through Art
At a Lee Dog Story, we understand that many types of people experience homelessness and that although they have fallen on hard times, each of them have unique abilities and skills to bring to our communities. Many social service organizations often look at clients as “people with problems”. Staff ask “what’s wrong with this person?” or “How can I fix this person?” Instead of focusing on what is wrong with our client, we begin by emphasizing a person’s strengths and resources (internal and external) in the process of change. When challenges are experienced, problems and issues are acknowledged and validated, and strengths are identified and highlighted. This creates a powerful cycle where our clients are constantly improving themselves and their surroundings as they progress on the path to stable housing.
At a Lee Dog Story, we utilize “People-first” language. This rhetorical strategy, which has been embraced by the CDC, the American Psychological Association, and many others, is used as a way to break down negative stereotypes and promote the self-worth of individuals. Because of this, we refer to the people we are working for as people first—as adults, young people, children, Veterans—who are experiencing homelessness. When we use language such as “homeless people” or “homeless services,” it does not convey the vision of effective, person-centered responses that end homelessness and instead can sound like we’re describing an intractable problem that is about people who are fundamentally different from us. By using the description ‘people experiencing homelessness,’ we put the responsibility on our entire community to bring about a change to the status quo.
Ethical Storytelling Pledge
At a Lee Dog Story, we are committed to telling stories in an ethical way so as to best promote the humanity and dignity of everyone we engage with.