At the end of a second year of cultural upheaval, it’s still feeling hard to find our footing. At times, we’ve stepped back into familiar daily experiences, only to find the ground under our feet unstable and giving way. We’ve marked out plots to plant our hopes – after the election, after the vaccines arrive, after this wave, after the ruling – that haven’t yielded what we’ve expected.
And yet, we do see growth. From child policy to community safety to social media oversight, new possibilities are emerging in the places where advocates have been cultivating progressive perspectives for years. Framing—the way we position ideas—has helped clear the spaces and till the soil for these new realities to take root.
While there is always room to grow is cliché, now is the time to grow seems perfectly apt for this unusual moment and the work happening all around us. So many of you have fielded smart, careful efforts to seed productive mindsets in freshly turned terrain. Such work rarely bears immediate fruit, but we see the shoots of new ways of thinking everywhere we turn.
As a progressive change sector, we have grown as well. We have adapted to new rhythms, new technologies, and new challenges. We have committed to breaking new ground and sharpened our tactics for cutting through chaotic conversations. We have dug deep to unearth the resolve we need, recognizing that seeding and nurturing the narratives we need is never easy, never accomplished alone, and never quite complete.
Throughout this long season of uncertainty, our partnerships with you have been a reassuring constant. We are grateful to be part of the many movements that are working hard to cultivate justice and wellbeing in an unfamiliar, and ever-changing, landscape.
In 2021, FrameWorks Institute:
- Surveyed our changing cultural landscape. While intuition tells us that culture is changing, research can help us understand the nature and degree of the shifts. We launched the Culture Change Project – a major, multi-year initiative – to monitor and measure how American mindsets are changing due to the pandemic, anti-racist activism, and anti-democratic trends. We’ve already pinpointed where thinking is becoming more systemic and where individualism is still holding strong – and will have more to say in the coming year as we continue to track mindsets, find ways to move them, and engage with progressive movements around key findings. For updates, be sure to sign up for On Frame.
- Conceptualized mindsets and found what makes them shift. Our researchers synthesized and explained the evidence on what it really takes to move mindsets in meaningful ways. We revisited the topic of narrative, nailing down evidence-based answers to questions that emerge in every narrative shift effort – like the perpetually perplexing “what’s the difference between narratives and stories?” We talked with luminaries with diverse perspectives to glean narrative insights from other fields for mission-driven communicators.
- Bolstered public health framing. Our researchers took a deep look into Americans’ cultural mindsets on vaccines – and have already seen better public health explanations as a result. (Stay tuned to hear more from us on vaccine messaging in 2022.) We debuted a refreshed strategy for framing childhood adversity that focuses on primary prevention – and guided public health champions to center health equity and reach conservative audiences.
- Equipped advocates to push for change at every point in the life course. We saw our framing research translated in amazingly creative ways – from a series of anti-ageist birthday cards to a new storytelling card game that helps people make sense of adolescence. We joined the call for sustained focus on children’s policy, added our voices to the push to maintain the child tax credit, and shared evidence on how pediatricians can reframe adolescence during wellness visits. We continued our partnership with the Reframing Aging Initiative, building narrative infrastructure to change the way Americans think about later life and related policies. And we got a good start on the narrative infrastructure of the future by helping to equip the youngest person ever to give a TED talk – which 7-year-old Molly Wright totally crushed.
- Set up shop across the pond. We formally established our sister organisation, FrameWorks UK – and celebrated the ways they are already changing the conversation on early childhood, housing, and more. Stay up to date on Twitter at @UK_FrameWorks.
We’re looking forward to staying connected in 2022.