I woke up this morning with the (obvious, yet somehow fresh) awareness that this is not only a conference about story, but about the story field. Of course we will work/play together to create new – and share old – inspiring, inclusive and life-affirming stories. What else will we do, to affect the story field? (story fields?)
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.”
When I imagine what I would like to explore at the Story Field conference next month many thoughts crowd their way to the surface; I’ll share one, to start.
I notice I am longing for a new language with which to tell my story and invite the stories of others … a language of the senses that evokes an visceral experience as our tales unveil themselves.
In one context this means I’m looking for a language that can ground internet discourse in the natural world. An earthy medium of exchange ala David Abram that draws on the ‘matter’ of our bodies and the world as we experience it directly through our senses. A language that will remind us of the ground beneath our feet, maybe even help us feel the grass between our toes and smell the faint sweetness of the air as we commune with each other in our ‘connected’ freedom from geographic boundaries and gross societal bias.
In another context it means helping my colleagues in the World Café global network find new ways to share their stories – illustrating where, how and with whom this wonderful conversational process is being used throughout the world. I want to co-evolve a language or format that covers our academic needs for analytic rigor but goes beyond that to impart a sense of the spirit in the room and the magic that arises in the middle of the conversation; a language that can impart the passions and dreams of the people that have gathered to listen to themselves and each other.
In still another context I am looking for the syntax and grammar of a language capable of weaving together the multi-media of my own story. I want to share my viewfinder and initiate others into the mysteries I intuit within sound and motion, image and word. I want to sound the poetic drumbeat and call the muse of rhythm to attend my utterances, to illuminate the soundless silence of world-wise eyes staring back naked, I want to carry my listeners into new worlds on waves of light and sound.
All this longing … the search for new forms; I suspect it goes far beyond my personal quest, and hope that I will meet many fellow seekers and co-creators of this new language at the Story Field gathering.
John Abbe introduced me to the Wikipedia entry on shared universes which led me to one on collaborative writing, which took me to another on collaborative fiction. These describe the kinds of multiple-creator universes I imagine could be especially useful in building realistic, sufficiently complex imagineering stories to inspire and catalyze people to actually live (together) into positive futures — perhaps creating those futures as they go, through a juicy participatory feedback loop between Evolving Story, on the one hand, and Evolving Life, on the other.
In the “shared universe” article, one sentence in particular resonated strongly with my multi-media version of this possibility that originally inspired the Story Field Conference: “In a process similar to brand licensing, the intellectual property owners of established fictional settings at times allow others to author new material, creation an expanded universe. Such franchises, generally based on television programs or film, allow for series of novels, video games, original sound recordings and other media.” It isn’t so much the centralized “franchising” approach that caught my attention, as the expansive vision of what kinds of media could be woven into such a shared universe to carry its memes into the culture. There are probably many possible ways to organize such an undertaking other than franchising, many of which have not been developed. That part is up to us….
I believe that fictional (novels, comics, games) and non-fictional (factual, journalistic) media could intermingle such that wiki-like factual links to things like ecotipping points or cob construction — or links to news stories and feature articles — could be part of fictional works. On the other hand, journalists who focus on positive possibilities or participate in imagineering efforts could link to fictional worlds when describing people who are working on realizing those worlds, in whole or part.
Recently I finished reading Robert Lynn Asprin‘s novelish book of collaboratively written short stories about Thieves’ World which includes a fascinating final chapter describing how the collaboration emerged and proceeded. Also in Googling “collaborative novels” I ran across aMillionPenguins.com, Penguin Books’ experiment in mass-participation wiki-novel writing — and its juicy critique. It seems there is far more experimentation out there than I imagined.
I hope some Story Field Conference participants are (or become) well versed in these possibilities and can help catalyze something(s) exciting and creative along these lines at the conference. It seems like this kind of an approach could have a particularly potent impact on our culture’s story field.
The human species is on the verge of self-annihilation, and we are meeting to talk about stories. Far from being frivolous and irrelevant as some might assume, this gathering is at the cutting edge of serious change. The power to shape the stories that frame a culture is the only power that potentially trumps the power of the dysfunctional, but seemingly invulnerable institutions that currently set the human course. Changing the story field of modern culture has become an imperative. — David Korten
As we continue reaching out to friends and colleagues to join our August gathering, our original intention in convening this conference is coming into sharper focus — and the form and flavor of the conference are evolving in exciting ways. We wish to share the latest with you, which have emerged through our communications with other conference invitees like yourself:
THE CONFERENCE INTENTION
As you know, the target of our shared attention and passion for this conference is the culture’s “story field”. All around us are signs that an impulse is arising within the story field to shift from a seriously dysfunctional meta-story — David Korten, who is joining us, calls it “suicidal” — to a more spirit-full, life-serving, sustainable meta-story.
We expect that the Story Field Conference — and the activities before and after it — will address the story field at a number of levels:
1. THEORY: We will all deepen our awareness and understanding of story fields and their dynamics — and the power of Story, in general.
2. WHAT EXISTS: We will deepen our awareness of the presence and content of the existing story field as it shapes our culture and mass consciousness.
3. WHAT WE WANT: We will explore together life-serving narratives and how we might help them shift the story field we all live in. This includes bringing out emerging technologies, innovations, collaborations, and other possibilities and resources that can help us — including ancient ways and knowings that many of us have lost touch with..
4. ACTUALIZING IT: We will initiate efforts to spread more life-serving stories and help people actually live into a more life-enhancing story field on the ground, making it real in the world, so it becomes not just a told story or a believed story but a rich fabric of mutually reinforcing lived stories, with more and more people living it.
That’s the overall picture we see of the conference.
AN EMERGING DEVELOPMENT and ENTICING INVITATION (at least we think so!)
As part of (4), above, we have attracted several meta-story change agents — e.g., Michael Dowd with the Great Story of evolution (http://thegreatstory.org), David Korten with the Great Turning (http://thegreatturning.net), and a place-based story-shifting network from Hawaii — to bring colleagues to the conference for focused face-to-face work developing their on-the-ground story-realization projects while being immersed in the generative ecosystem of storytellers, artists, visionaries, journalists, etc., who will be swirling around them at this conference.
If you are engaged in such a story shift, come and bring your kindred spirits and colleagues. What better context in which to develop your work than among artists and other story makers? Together, we shall weave a rich tapestry of not one “perfect” yarn, but a vibrantly textured fabric that reflects the richness of our diversity.
After all, the story field we need is not the One Right Story, but a co-creative co-evolution of millions of stories in more life-flourishing directions. So practicing right in our conference the shift from belonging-as-conformity to belonging-as-showing-up-in-our-uniqueness-and-evolving-together is, itself, a profound change in the story!
So please, join us and bring your friends.