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?)
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.
“Those who do not have power over the story that dominates their lives, the power to retell it, rethink it, deconstruct it . . . and change it as times change, truly are powerless because they cannot think new thoughts.”
— Salman Rushdie
Thanks to David Isaacs for this.
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.
Another sign of story field work being done by mainstream big names:
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.”