The Shift, an upcoming movie representing a selection of the incredible transformative work that is happening in the world today is good example of what is going on in the Story Field. It emphasizes the fact that we can act powerfully by choosing the kinds of futures we wish to live, and start living them now. By telling the stories of those futures, we bring them into the present, and we can turn them into inspiration and actions that makes a difference.
There are many stories that can and will be told. Paul Hawken’s book Blessed Unrest reveals some of the pattern, the Story Field Conference will reveal additional bits and pieces, and there is an endless supply of amazing stories around us if we simply start looking for them and re-telling them.
It’s the concept of continuously seeking to weave and re-weave these emerging patterns together into new views of what is happening in the world that attracts me to this conference and work. The mere act of getting these stories more “out there” reminds people that they are not alone, that there is hope in the world, that we have the potential participate in creating a world that is more complex and more beautiful than the one we have today. We are co-creative beings engaged in the process of evolution. As we engage with greater degrees of individual and collective consciousness, we become part of the rising tide that lifts all ships, addressing extinction-level issues with forward-looking visions and forward-thinking practical solutions. And we end up having an incredible time along the way.
As Derrick Ashong says in the film, “Making the world a better place is not only your responsibility, it is your joy, it is your blessing, it is your gift, it’s your opportunity to make your life mean something.”
From an interview of Suzuki in Global Exchange, Spring 2007:
Kevin Danaher: What gives you hope?
David Suzuki: The fact that people have the power to assign meaning to things and then vigorously defend those things. I was at the Dome of the Rock in Israel and I thought, “here is this rock with so much religious and political significance, and it is just a big rock.” But the human mind is capable of ascribing sacred status to that rock. So if millions of people can assign great spiritual value to a rock because of stories they have been told, then we should be able to tell other stories that will convince people to ascribe great value to all the plants and animals upon which our very existence depends.
Thanks to Nancy Schimmel for this. Sadly, Nancy has written that she will not be able to attend the Conference.
Imagineering embraces any use of imaginative narrative to realize, create, or catalyze in real life the potentials we are imagining, usually by drawing people into actually living the story.
Imagineering often involves complete stories, in any form. But it can also involve one or more story elements — metaphors, images, themes, perspectives, conflicts, problems, questions, goals, knowledge, possibilities, and imagined characters, situations, plots, events, resolutions, dialogue, etc.
Role models and “looking back from the future” visionary stories are examples of imagineering.
Imagineers use such story elements consciously to inspire and guide people to reshape their consciousness, their lives, and their social and physical circumstances.
If a story is exciting, compelling, attractive — and do-able — really livable, for its target audience — it becomes a powerful force for change. Such imagineering is a favorite tool of story field workers.
For more about imagineering, including specific examples, see this article.
Leonardo DiCaprio has produced, co-written and narrated THE 11TH HOUR, a nonfiction film about environmental disaster. “The movie is an earnest and instructive 90 minutes of interviews with experts ranging from Stephen Hawking to David Suzuki, and illustrated with film clips of world ecological disasters. “
The important point for us in the Story Field Conference comes at the end of the article, which shows DiCaprio is operating at the level of multi-media “story field” work. He is producing two movies — one nonfiction and one fiction — specifically to stimulate attitudinal and behavioral changes in viewers.
“DiCaprio said the main point of the movie was to take the audience to a place where they would want to take steps to get involved. It’s a call to action. And it’s an issue that DiCaprio isn’t finished with: He’d like to do a fictional movie about it, as well. ‘But again: it can’t be just a film about the environment for the sake of doing,’ he said. ‘It’s got to powerful and moving. It’s got to be good.'”
The story below gives an example of story field change work being done from above (see also Al Gore’s work). I doubt these folks are going to change the institutional arrangements, power relationships, or unerlying assumptions of our political, governmental, and economic order. But they are doing work to shift the story field, in this case by influencing individual behaviors, and with a keen sense of the interrelationships among media. One of our jobs, I believe, is to shift the story field from the bottom up, in ways that actually change the underlying assumptions and patterns of the systems we live in, as David Korten’s piece below points out.
Murdoch: I’m proud to be green News Corp boss orders his entire empire to convert and become a worldwide enthusiast for the environment By Geoffrey Lean, Environment Editor The Independent – 13 May 2007
In one of the most unexpected conversions since Saul of Tarsus hit the road to Damascus, Rupert Murdoch is turning into a green campaigner. He is making the whole of his worldwide operations carbon neutral and setting out to “educate and engage” his readers and viewers about global warming….
…the main thrust of the campaign will be “to inspire people to change their behaviour” through films, television productions and news operations. It will aim “to weave this issue into our content, make it dramatic, make it vivid, even sometimes make it fun”. As a start, MySpace is launching a channel devoted to climate change, and Fox television is developing “a solutions-based campaign”. Today’s Sunday Times and News of the World both major on plans by Gordon Brown for new eco-towns.
Mr Murdoch says: “Imagine if we succeed in inspiring our audiences to reduce their own impacts on climate change by just 1 per cent. That would be like turning the state of California off for almost two months.”
I pulled together several of my emails exploring who might come to this conference and edited it into an article called Who is a ‘Storyteller’ — and why such a Conference for them?. I hope it clarifies the wild variety of people we’re inviting, and perhaps opens up an inquiry about a new interdisciplinary “field of study and practice” or a new view of whole-system activism based on story….
Sheri Herndon sent some of us a riff along these lines recently, describing a conversation with friends: “[We asked] ourselves what are the ways in which we are all storytellers, storycatchers, and story keepers. and perhaps what are the roles each of us plays in creating, maintaining, enriching, evolving and enlarging the story field. i see these different ways of accessing and participating in the story field as important. these are story field capacities…what capacities are needed for telling a new story?”
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Messages, News, and Meanderings
This blog is a conversation space of, by, and for the First Annual Story Field Conference, where we share, announce, appreciate, critique, talk, explore, say hello, plan, trip out, inspire, shake it up, and have fun together...
This conference is being organized with support from the Kellogg Foundation and the Co-Intelligence Institute. Illustration credits: Dana Lynne Andersen, in From Lava to Life: the Universe Tells our Earth Story by Jennifer Morgan -- Courtesy of Dawn Publications