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Change Makers

Change Makers

Read interviews with some of New York’s most dedicated grassroots activists.

Meet Kathryn of Collective Agency! (June 2019)

Kathryn, Action Group Network has known you since your founding after our first NY gathering, so we are especially pleased to share your great work with more folks. So good to talk to you.
In many ways we owe everything to you guys. We launched at the very first Action Group Network meeting so nothing makes me happier than talking to you!

Tell me a bit about Collective Agency.
Collective Agency is a collective of more than 250 media creatives from across the country, all dedicated to amplifying progressive voices. We create all kinds of social-first digital media for all kinds of progressive organizations, from large well known national orgs to local grassroots orgs.

Fantastic, and what is your title?
I am Executive Director.

Tell me, what have been some of your favorite projects to date? If you had to pick one or two?
The one I talk about all the time is one we did in our second month actually – it was through Action Group Network- with the Santa Cruz Action Group. We produced a 6 panel comic strip featuring a little boy dressed up as Super Man and it was called “Immigrants Make A Family Plan”. It was very simple with versions in both English and Spanish – and it illustrated how an immigrant family could make a plan to ensure that in the event that a parent were deported by ICE, their child wouldn’t end up in foster care. It was so simple; so effective; and so charming. It’s truly one of my favorite projects to date. There was just a clear way this comic strip could be useful and the art, by artist Danica Novgorodoff turned out beautifully; Our team was very proud of that one and I loved it.

And how about a second?
We have so many projects we’re proud of, it’s hard to pick, but if I had to I would maybe choose the video series we made in partnership with Indivisible. Call-to-action videos before the elections.

Was this the midterm elections?
Yes, the midterm elections. We made videos to get people out canvassing; a bunch of GOTV videos, polling videos, all to galvanize volunteers and engage grassroots audiences to take action. I also really love the media campaign we created to challenge our collective bias against women Candidates for

And on the whole, how have clients reacted to your projects? Specifically or generally?
That’s a great question. Our clients are amazing, and they’re very grateful and positive. They clearly appreciate the work we do. And, they’re often policy wonks and that’s why they’re so good at what they do. They understand the content and the facts that need to be conveyed to the public. But that also means they want to hit people with facts facts facts. So, sometimes it’s a challenge to work with a client and make them a video that we know is not going to be effective at getting their audience to take action. That’s difficult, because the best thing we can do for them is help tell a story. Stories literally change people’s brains. Facts don’t inspire people to action, stories do. What these organizations often don’t understand is people don’t want to to know the facts right away. They’ll first decide, emotionally, whether they align with a cause. And then they’ll go to their website to get the facts that will support their emotional alignment.

So, we all need to do a better job of understanding what mediums work best for what. And we have to help our clients understand why it is that we need to tell things in story form. A story can give people the message that will then inspire them to act and learn more, and go to that website and look at those facts that those wonderful policy wonks really know and have ready.

That’s useful to hear! I think this insight is valuable for a lot of our readers. Thanks for talking with me Kathryn, I look forward to sharing some of your projects with our audience.
Thank you!