Chapter 7: Collective Narrative Practice: working with groups and communities

In this final chapter we provide you a few more examples of collective practice and community work. 

“As counsellors, therapists, psychosocial workers and community workers, stories of hardship find their way to us. In some ways, we are cultural receivers of stories of suffering (Waldegrave, Tamaseses, Tuhaka & Campbell, 2003). And often this suffering is linked to broader injustices: to violence, abuse, racism, poverty, sexism, heterosexual dominance. To be the cultural receivers of these stories brings with it awesome responsibilities; for instance there are responsibilities to comfort and to somehow alleviate hardship. But there is another responsibility that I am hoping we will also engage with. How can we receive these stories and engage with them in ways that not only alleviate individual sorrow, but also enable and sustain local social action to address the broader injustices, violence and abuses in our varying contexts? How can we provide forums for the sorrow, anguish and hardship of the stories that we receive to be transformed into collective actions? I don’t mean grand social actions, I mean local, meaningful, resonant, sustainable, social action or social contributions’

(Denborough, 2008, p. 192)


As we have already seen in earlier parts of this course, lateral violence has been known to sneak in and try to pit feminism and the struggle to address gendered violence against justice for sexually and gender expansive folk. These projects are not separate. The Gender Group at Peak House is a program which refuses to go along with exclusion and invites young people of all genders to be part of conversations to address gendered violence. Resisting the binary while acknowledging the binary.

Gender Group at Peak House: Making space beyond inclusion, resisting cis- and heteronormativity — Bhupie Dulay, Graeme Sampson, Stefanie Krasnow and Vikki Reynolds.

Tiffany Sostar (they/them) and Rosie (Zan – they/them) Maeder hosted conversations of non-binary young people on opposite sides of the globe. This narrative collective document was written up by Tiffany capturing rich themes of shared and diverse experience.

Non-binary Superpowers! A collaborative conversation between non-binary youth in Adelaide, South Australia, and non-binary youth in Calgary, Alberta— Rosie Maeder and Tiffany Sostar

This correspondence was created as part of the encyclopedia of young people’s knowledge and life-saving tips between the young women’s muslim association and young people from a Queer Youth Drop-In in Adelaide. These letters capture the spirit of what Victor Turner describes as communitas- a sense of unity and shared experience which preserves and celebrates difference. 

A message from Feast Queer Young people: Part 5: LGBTQA journeys + A message back from Muslim women: We’ve got to work together.

In this interview with Tiffany Sostar about the myriad of collective practice projects they have undertaken, they share about their passion for weaving together voices through iterative processes, the careful collaborations they engage in, the many learnings and challenges they’ve come up against and their willingness and practise of accepting feedback. 


Tiffany mentioned a number of collective documents in this interview including:


Reflection questions:

  • What are the ways your work creates the possibility of collective action in response to oppressions related to gender, sex, sexuality, bodies and relationships?
  • What opportunities might there be in your work for hosting collective conversations which address the effects of heteronormativity, cisnormativity, transphobia, homophobia, biphobia etc?
  • Who might be invited into those conversations?
  • What does it mean to you to make space beyond inclusion?
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