Pictured: Syreeta Martin; Director of Programs and Communications at Love Now Media, and Jos Duncan Asé; Founder, Executive Producer, and Publisher at Love Now Media

Centering Love In Narrative Change: An Interview with Love Now Media

Published in
11 min readMay 30, 2023


The WOMEN’S WAY Change the Narrative Fellowship trains and empowers women with lived experiences of economic insecurity to share their stories through professional-level audio, visual, and print in order to generate awareness of racial and gender inequities in economic opportunity and spur action to improve economic security in the Greater Philadelphia region.

As a part of the 6-month long Fellowship, Fellows participate in a series of workshops to learn about and practice using narrative change techniques. This year, the newest cohort of 9 Fellows from Community College of Philadelphia is working directly with Love Now Media, an empathy-centered multi-platform storytelling enterprise, to prepare their stories.

We recently had the opportunity to talk with two members of the Love Now Media team, Jos Duncan Asé (Founder, Executive Producer, and Publisher) and Syreeta Martin (Director of Programs and Communications), to learn more about how Love Now Media is working to amplify acts of love at the intersection of social justice, wellness, and equity; get insight into the Designing Love Storytelling Program that has been adapted for the Change the Narrative Fellowship; and discuss what it’s been like working with the third cohort of Fellows.

Share a little about yourself and your path to Love Now Media.

Syreeta Martin (SM): I am the Director of Programs and Communications at Love Now Media. My background is in entrepreneurial journalism, communications, and marketing. I initially started out at Love Now Media as a client. The company’s mission was so aligned, and the work became so compelling and fulfilling, that I joyfully accepted an invitation to join the team full-time recently. I’ve been rocking out ever since.

Jos Duncan Asé (JDA): I am the Founder, Executive Producer, and Publisher of Love Now Media. My background is in community storytelling, documentary filmmaking, and being a social change agent. Prior to Love Now Media, I had a few other companies where I was doing media work — primarily documentary film work and community organizing through storytelling. I felt like something was really missing in this work. What I realized is that people have to be well to do their work, be strategic, and stay focused, and I think a lot of people are really missing that. I was missing that. This led me to think about what kind of vehicle could help to support capturing community voices without exploiting the trauma that was at the root of a lot of social justice and equity work.

I started Love Now Media in 2016 while capturing protests and realizing that people replaying the trauma and outrage of another Black man being shot was not serving the intentions of the organizers, the folks who were working to change policies, or even the community members who were affected by these horrific incidents. What could I infuse into the movement to change its tone and direction? Love. And that’s why I started Love Now Media, an empathy-centered media company.

How did Love Now Media’s work in the community begin and what does it look like now?

JDA: We started by doing community storytelling workshops with the framing of love to think about what connects people rather than what divides them. We do this by asking questions like: How did you learn the definition of love? When you ask a question like that, and in a community of folks, you get so many different answers. That’s how the exploratory work for Love Now Media started. By posing questions to the community, we realized that if only more people could sit together and listen to these answers, we would really understand so much more about why people operate with certain motives or intentions. Oftentimes, the answer is that people just learn to love in very different ways.

In this way, we do a lot of storytelling programs in the community. Most of them are grant funded. We’ve learned a lot from doing this work, and so we’ve started to offer some of these tools to partners and in corporate spaces, as well. We have been hired by a few corporations and nonprofit organizations like WOMEN’S WAY, for example, to offer these same tools that we have been offering to communities for almost seven years now.

SM: To use creativity as a tool can be really powerful in communities. That’s the beauty of storytelling and our work. This was evident in one of our recent community initiatives, Heart of the Story: Getting to the Heart of Gun Violence with Love. We held community workshops all throughout the city that were facilitated and led by Black male leaders and specifically designed for Black boys and men to be able to come together to process the gun violence that’s been affecting our city.

Gun violence itself was not the point of conversation. It was more so about creating the opportunity for participants to frame their story and giving them the space to not only let their creativity flow, but to process their lives, and their place within this really big discussion and this really big trauma that we’re all experiencing. Did gun violence come up? Yes, because that’s part of a lot of our lives. But was retraumatization the point of all this? No. And so we were able to address this really painful reality, but to do so in a really empowering way by honoring their creativity through storytelling.

Though the initiative was designed for Black men, we had girls and women too and it just started to take on a life of its own in that way. I think this work is definitely a testament to Love Now Media’s work but even more so to the power of love.

Why is love the focus of Love Now Media and how does that align with social justice work?

SM: Our storytellers are our contributors. Through a lens of love, they are documenting what’s happening in real-time in our communities and in their lives. They are discussing and exploring social justice but doing so in an empowered way and in a healing-oriented, community-centered way.

For me, even as an entrepreneurial journalist, to see journalism and storytelling happening through a lens of love is very different from what you’re taught in school and in higher education. You’re taught to be objective and not connect with the story. At Love Now Media, our approach acknowledges humanity. We want to honor your humanity and your proximity to the story and social justice.

There is, for example, a Black poet, Lindo Yes, who contributes to our Poet’s Press. One of the most recent pieces that he shared is absolutely captivating. Love Now Media creates a space even for poets to be viewed as storytellers, as conduits of news, and as credible, trustworthy sources to discuss topics as big as social justice. I feel blessed to be a part of this every day, knowing that this kind of space is being created. For Love Now Media to really do what it is able to do is to operate in the fullness of the power of love. We really challenge people to expand their ideas, notions, and definition of love. It is not just romantic. It is not just a feeling. It’s more than that — love is a verb and it is an action.

Love Now Media is partnering with WOMEN’S WAY to provide program design and curriculum for the Change the Narrative Fellowship. How is Love Now Media working with the Fellows to change narratives and generate awareness of racial and gender inequities in economic opportunity?

JDA: For WOMEN’S WAY, we are using our Designing Love Storytelling Program which focuses on thinking about the systems, policies, and practices that contribute to the design of spaces, experiences, and feelings of love, connection, and belonging. When WOMEN’S WAY reached out and invited us to partner, I knew that it was the perfect program because we were able to develop a curriculum that spoke to supporting the Fellows to share their stories specifically for the purpose of policy change and advocacy.

What we’re doing is taking a look at the Fellows’ personal stories, some of the beliefs that they may hold, and some of the experiences that they’ve had as it relates to being directly and indirectly affected by policies that marginalize or oppress people or contribute to systemic injustices. We’re working to use their personal stories as a way to really examine the systems that they’ve encountered.

I think it’s important to not only do that for their personal stories but to look at their families and the people who were in power in their households, in their communities, and in their cities to really think about the ways their personal experiences overlap with or intersect with the gender wealth gap and some of the inequalities that large numbers of people are also experiencing due to similar policies. We’re looking at all of that through our work over the course of 14 sessions.

Can you share an example of one or two of the workshops from the Designing Love Storytelling curriculum?

JDA: One of the workshops we’re doing at our next session is called “Money Myths.” So much of how we talk about money is rooted in culture and cultural practices. For example, practices your grandmother may have shared with you or beliefs your classmates may have talked about. Those things definitely contribute to the ways we experience money so the workshop is going to be about really examining where those practices come from, what kinds of survival tactics people may have been tapping into, and how they came up with superstitions in order to protect themselves from harm. I think this is a fun way to really look at the things that we carry with us like folk tales and folklore about money for the purpose of protection.

We are also offering an Afrofuturism workshop which will provide an opportunity to break down ideas about how folks can exist in our world. Speculative fiction and using fantasy and myth to design a future place gives people the opportunity to play and break through the barriers that they may have experienced in real life and start to fictionalize it as an experience that could very well be like an experience they might actually want to have instead. Sometimes folks miss that when they’re outraged and upset about things that have happened or experiences that they’ve had. They will express that outrage and express dissatisfaction, but they won’t go the step further to think: How do we redesign something that could actually work? How do we redesign something that actually serves my children or serves the future?

The Afrofuturism workshop gives us the opportunity to do that and to also experience play and the use of imagination. We often talk about innovation in tech spaces, but innovation starts with a human thinking about possibilities. Culturally, people who’ve experienced oppression are often kept out of spaces where they have the opportunity to tap into innovative solutions to what’s actually happening in the world. Without technology, we can do that through narrative. The Afrofuturism workshop is a space where we will be exploring all of that.

I think both of these workshops are really important to this cohort experience. When people have stories that include hardships, sometimes they feel exploited when sharing those stories — especially when they are trying to advocate for some kind of change for a larger community — so I wanted to make these workshops fun.

What has it been like meeting and working with the Fellows so far?

SM: Did you just see my smile? My heart felt like it grew ten times meeting this cohort of Fellows. This is our first time partnering with WOMEN’S WAY so we only have one cohort to work with. But, speaking from my own experiences, it’s been so empowering and deeply transformative. Every time we leave our space and time together, I feel like the connections deepen.

In the time that we’ve been together, I already know these Fellows are going to change worlds, systems, and spaces. Their stories and spirits are unbreakable. From some of what has already been shared and some of their experiences, I know that it’s fair to say that many have likely felt broken at different points in their journey. Should they end up reading this, I want to make sure they see it in black and white: They are unbreakable. We’ve already seen proof of that and it has been really beautiful to witness.

I think this program speaks to WOMEN’S WAY, the Gender Wealth Institute, and the power of the work you all are doing. We are only getting to experience nine Fellows, but when I’m thinking about long term how many fellows you all are going to impact — that is powerful stuff. I feel really honored to get the opportunity to know these nine Fellows. At the end of the workshops, they hug each other. There is so much camaraderie, connection, and just overall sentiment that we’re on this journey together and experiencing narrative empowerment together. In each workshop, I see them owning their stories more and more. I’m super excited to see what’s on the other side of this for them because it’s really been beautiful so far.

JDA: For me, my experience has been transformative. I wasn’t sure what to expect. Usually, we go into groups that are not as curated. With WOMEN’S WAY, there was an application for the Fellowship. These nine Fellows were selected specifically for this program and I can totally see why — they’re incredible. I’m blown away by these humans that I get to share this space with and the ways that they so tenderly hold these very colorful, nuanced experiences, and the ways that they show up to share them for this program. I’ve been really moved by the sessions we’ve had so far, and am really looking forward to the full journey.

What are your hopes for the 3rd Cohort of Change the Narrative Fellows?

JDA: Interestingly, in a lot of ways, I feel like we are these women. They’re us. Every single one of those cohort members could do what either of us is doing. They will start organizations, be public speakers, radio hosts, journalists…whatever they want to do, I know they’re going to do it. What an incredible honor to be of service to the group.

SM: I echo that and agree 100%. This program is looking to change the predominant narratives of women and economic insecurity using a very women-led, bottom-up intersectional approach. Similarly to Jos, I feel like I’m with my people. I identify with these Fellows because I’ve been economically insecure and I’ve gone through different systems, whether it was welfare or public housing, or the higher education system. I know what my hope was for myself when I was in those systems: I wanted to be able to reach a place in life where I was free of those systems. I wanted to be independent of those systems where I was not eaten alive by them.

The Fellows have absolutely been impacted by so many different systems and it can be really hard to persevere in the face of the power of those systems. You can be very discouraged along the way. To have a program like this where there is narrative empowerment, my hope is that when the Fellows come out on the other side of this, they come out truly empowered in telling and owning their story, and, with that, feeling free and light enough to reimagine their own future. That’s definitely my hope.

Where can readers go to learn more about Love Now Media and stay connected with your work?

Stay in touch with Love Now Media on Social Media: Youtube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter; and on their website: lovenowmedia.com

Check out examples of recent community initiatives:

Read content from the Poet’s Press:

Listen to podcasts produced by Love Now Media:

  • Heart to Heart — A youth-produced podcast, hosted and produced by 16-year-old Journey Moses and 14-year-old Gabby Cooper. The show features intergenerational conversations about pressing topics in pop culture, social justice advocacy, and entertainment.
  • Conscious Connections — Hosted by Nicole Blackson, a social worker and diversity training facilitator, the podcast explored the conscious, deliberate ways in which couples are intentional about love, every day.




WOMEN’S WAY is the Greater Philadelphia region’s leading nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of women, girls, and gender equity.