What does it mean to tell a story?

Storytelling can be comprehended as a means of possessing something of a person, i.e. to tell their story, but it also acknowledges their existence. An important photographer to us, Roddy McInness, shows us that it recognizes that we are more alike than different and connects us to people around the world. With that in mind, Lilac Stories advocates for social issues and non-profit organizations through the use of positive visual storytelling. Unlike the mainstream approach of raising awareness through clickable pity, shame, or guilt, we believe we can inspire and empower people while upholding ethical storytelling guidelines of portraying every person as they are with dignity and strength.

We believe the responsibility of storytellers is so important because they are at the intersection that unites two worlds. In our 5+ years working with humanitarian organizations, advocating for issues we are passionate about has become less important than the story of the people we work with and our understanding of one another. Our goal is to celebrate interconnection as both a means of social change, but also to enrich every experience.

Alicia Carter: For Alicia, the founder of Lilac Stories, living out of her comfort zone has become more comfortable than living inside it. For two years, she made a home of a small hut, without electricity or water, with an outside latrine in Lesotho. Alicia moved to Lesotho in 2015 seeking to understand the complexities of generational poverty and to engage in health advocacy. She became a part of the community; her students called her Miss Kenny and she spoke the Sesotho language fluently. She became a more patient and understanding person with time for reflection and introspection. She was no longer a traveler in a new place and started feeling less comfortable sharing another person’s story; fearing that it could be misinterpreted or manipulated. Through this experience, her relationship with storytelling became a more conscious practice. In this time, she was challenged by what it meant to document not only her life but someone else’s. Her perspective expanded and as a result, she was left with more questions than answers. 

In 2014, Carter earned a BA in International Health and Development with a minor in Photography from the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado. After graduation, she spent the summer and fall in Aspen, Colorado working as a Photographer for the Anderson Ranch Arts Center, as well as, a volleyball coach at Aspen High School. In 2017, Alicia proudly completed two years serving in the U.S. Peace Corps in Lesotho, where she worked as a Healthy Youth Advisor. During that time she engaged in a wide variety of projects: facilitating social action photo exhibitions partnered with the Inside Out Project, assisting in grant-writing and human rights reports for the Lesotho Commission for Justice and Peace, teaching adolescent health courses, coaching the district volleyball teams, organizing youth leadership camp and more. Afterward, Carter took the next opportunity to stay in southern Africa and was the Marketing Manager for the innovative and creative NGO, Thanda.  Now, her path with take her to the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where she is a Park Fellow for her Masters of Arts in Media and Communication. She looks up to mentors like Roddy McInnes and Wendy Van Damme for guidance and thanks them immensely for giving her inspiration, personally and creatively.