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.
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.
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.
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.
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