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The following are components of a “narrative roadmap,” adapted for this publication, that the Blueprint for Belonging project team created in collaboration with civic and community-based partner organizations in the Inland Empire. The roadmap includes a “core narrative” structured around overarching lessons, as well as a series of specific “dos” and “don’ts.” It is an example of one form of translating narrative research findings into tools of application. 

Four narrative elements can help unite the Inland Empire

Use place-based identification.

  From the High Desert to Temecula, Ontario to MoVal to Coachella, people who stay in the IE are proud of our community. We’re not LA or Orange County, but in our corner of California, we make the most of what we’ve got.


Demonstrate corporate extraction of wealth

  Lately, though, it seems like too many of us are struggling just to keep our heads above water, being kept stuck in place by big corporations that just want to profit off of us. We pay taxes that should go back into our community, but too many politicians who have been bought are just concerned about filling their pockets instead.

Call out racial scapegoating explicitly

  Some people try to explain why we’re struggling by pointing to people of other races—saying immigrants take our jobs, or Black people don’t work hard enough. But that’s not right and we know it. We all need to get out of this dog-eat-dog mentality. That’s how we can force big corporations to treat us fairly. That’s how we can take back the government so that it meets the needs of the community.


Emphasize collective power while acknowledging cynicism

  We can join with our friends and coworkers to demand good jobs, actual benefits, a safe environment, and the possibility of achieving the life that we’re striving for. Because if we come together as one, we can rise together.

Narrative Dos and Don'ts 


Rather than


Riverside communities are taking action. All our communities are taking action. Naming specific locations allows audiences to self-locate in the narrative.
Big corporations are profiting off of us, while so many of us struggle to keep our heads above water. Big corporations are coming into cities and making billions. Use collective language to describe who corporations are extracting wealth from and the impact that has on people. This makes the issue about fairness, not about getting more from successful groups.
Corporations just want to profit off of us. The wealthy just want to profit off of us. “Corporations” conveys the scale of inequity, instead of naming villain as a specific class of people, especially a class of people that many aspire to become.
Too many politicians are just concerned about lining their own pockets while our communities struggle. Politicians are focused on lining their own pockets while our communities struggle. Name corruption as the foundation of peoples’ mistrust without making a blanket statement that could undermine action for accountability.
Even though we’re up against a lot, we can come together to demand good jobs and safe communities. We can come together to demand good jobs and safe communities. Meeting people where they are ensures that our messages don’t feel trite and removed from reality.

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