NMAP’s mission is to partner with change makers to tell stories that promote a more equitable world. We work with activists and organizations internationally to make measurable progress on complex problems where new narratives, reframing, and unconventional approaches are most needed.
We’re a team of narrative strategists working at the intersection of communications, movement building, and cultural engagement. We recognize the power of story and narrative to change power structures and to promote equity and justice, and to accomplish that, we partner with and train non-profits, activists, and coalitions around the world. Our roots are in human rights advocacy and visual storytelling, but we work across barriers to design narrative strategies informed by the science of framing, measurement, and strategic distribution. We’ve established networks globally through more than 100 civil society partnerships in 30 countries over the last decade.
NMAP envisions a world where equality and justice are embraced and where movements can effectively topple unjust power. We work with mission-aligned movements to understand the nuanced picture of beliefs, values and, behaviors that underlie entrenched and polarizing issues. We create new narratives around issues that matter with the goal of building dominant political and cultural narratives that promote a world in which everyone can thrive.
Reframing Human Rights
Opponents of equity and justice are highly resourced and sophisticated storytellers. They understand the power of narrative and framing in advancing their agenda. On the other hand, the storytelling instincts of change makers are often misguided or outdated. We continue to see reflexive use of tactics like “name and shame,” awareness raising, and expert-dominated communications that are ineffective and often make matters worse. Finally, there’s a void of knowledge sharing between communities, academia and NGOs. These communities need each other to create a more just world, but the conditions for successful collaboration are rare.
NMAP has adopted the phrase “Reframing Human Rights” to succinctly capture how we intend to tackle these problems:
- We are reframing the human rights movement as one that doesn’t assume its ideals are self evident, or that shining a light alone leads to action or change.
- Rather than assuming that “the truth will set you free,” NMAP believes we need to deeply understand our audiences and speak to them in ways that will achieve our goals. To borrow a phrase from Thomas Coombes Hope-Based Communications project, “Instead of name and shame, we need to name and frame.”
- We are working to reframe the human rights movement to create one that is inclusive rather than elite-driven by deeply listening to our partners and designing interventions that truly serve their needs.
- We are reframing our movement as one that is not siloed from other justice movements—such climate crisis—but eager to collaborate and use collective power to solve interrelated problems.
- We work to reframe the human rights movement as one that any motivated young person can see themselves joining, envisioning an influx of new activists and talent into civil society to create sustained movements.