Instead of digging in deep, they use a broad, multi-character approach to make their points.
Rakes don’t require a traditional story arc—they can be observational, slices of life, profiles of a community under pressure, etc. While they might have a clear point of view, they always include and respect multiple perspectives.
Strengths: Rakes humanize a range of characters who are dealing with a challenging and shared social issue. These stories help you to walk in several pairs of shoes—not necessarily to follow a set path, but to reveal what makes each character tick. Rakes often attract wider audiences than, say, Trowels, because people with different opinions relate to the different perspectives presented. At a minimum, Rakes can help to challenge stereotypes. At their best, they can help diverse viewers connect with complex characters and see them, and their situations, in a new light. Like raking leaves in a garden, these stories can help gather people with opposing views together to listen to each other—an essential step for building bridges around common values.
Rakes generally don’t:
• Advocate for a specific policy or action (See Trowels)
• Demonize a character simply because s/he expresses candid or different personal opinions
Rakes are great for:
• Screenings or events with audiences who may be unsure, undecided about, or unfamiliar with a social problem
• Community gatherings that seek to address contentious problems by hearing multiple points of view
• Online forums designed to provide a common experience for participants and/or to depolarize complex issues
• Leadership development, especially for those who are grappling with issues portrayed in the story
• Educational efforts that encourage critical thinking
Ideal first responses to Rakes from viewers/participants:
• “I heard my story in there too—I never heard it put that way before….”
• “This is more complicated than I’d thought, but now I want to connect.”
• “I didn’t think I’d ever meet or interact with someone like that.” or “I didn’t even know they exist.”
How Do We Know If Rakes Are Making a Difference?