The converging crises we face are symptoms of a shared root cause: economic designs based on an outdated and harmful narrative – that we are separate from nature and separate from each other.
If we are going to salvage what nature we have left and avoid further societal breakdown, we need to radically transform our economy, which means changing that narrative.
On June 8th we hosted a 2-hour event to share the Stories for Life project and hear from those working to create new stories through creative culture, arts, activism, new economic design, community action and more.
Dan Burgess – Co-writer Stories for Life
Dan is a creative strategist, catalyst, activist, co-designer and guide with deep experience of harnessing creativity and collaboration for action on complex social, ecological and climate challenges. He works across multiple spaces from the grassroots, place-based communities, arts, activism, conservation, NGO to global brands.
He’s a co-founder of Good for Nothing/Nothing works, Co-Pilot of Wild Labs, steward of The Wild Network, We Are Ocean collective and hosts The SpaceShip Earth podcast. He regularly writes, talks, designs and serves as a learning guide exploring brand activism, participation culture, deepening our relationship with the more than human world and creative experimentation in unravelling times.
Paddy Loughman – Co-writer Stories for Life
Paddy is an independent strategy consultant and speaker. He’s focused on tackling the climate and ecological emergency, with a particular interest in the role business and culture can play in transforming our prospects. He specialises in brand, communications and narrative change. He works with a range of groups including the UNFCCC Climate Champions, and previously worked with leading consultancies Wolff Olins and Bow & Arrow. He also lectures on brand and storytelling, advises various climate-action and activism efforts, and coaches presentation skills. Once upon a time he trained as an actor.
Ella is a co-founder of The Long Time Project. Her work sits at the intersection of culture, narrative and systems change. She’s founded organisations and initiatives like The Reset Narratives Community, The Comms Lab, The Point People, ItsOurTime and SHEvotes.
Her writing for stage and screen is represented by The Agency. Fascinated by the intersection between fiction and futures, she recently wrote Recode, a short drama for The Guardian. Ella’s writing on culture and social change has been published in The Guardian, BBC, The Financial Times, Stanford Social Innovation Review, Wired, Monocle & Creative Review.
Carlota Sanz is Co-Founder of Doughnut Economics Action Lab and DEAL’s Strategic Lead. Her work focuses on enabling the concepts of Doughnut Economics to be turned into transformative practice, while ensuring they spread wide and with integrity.
Prior to co-founding DEAL with Kate Raworth, Carlota worked for a decade in the financial sector in Spain and the UK, studied economic transformation at Schumacher College, and was a co-director of Economy for the Common Good in the UK.
Kumi was International Executive Director of Greenpeace International, from 2009-2015, and Secretary General of Amnesty International, from 2018-2020. As of June 2020, he is Global Ambassador for Africans Rising for Justice, Peace & Dignity.
He has served as the Secretary-General of Civicus, an international alliance for citizen participation, from 1998 to 2008.
Kumi has also served the Global Call to Action Against Poverty and the Global Call for Climate Action, which brings together environmental aid, religious and human rights groups, labour unions, scientists and others and has organised mass demonstrations around climate negotiations.
Immy is a Co – Founder and Director of CIVIC SQUARE. CIVIC SQUARE is a public square, neighbourhood lab, and creative + participatory platform focused on regenerative civic and social infrastructure within neighbourhoods. Immy is part of a creative and dynamic leadership team who work alongside the local neighbourhood, to offer a bold approach to visioning, building and investing in civic infrastructure for neighbourhoods of the future.
Her work focusses on convening and building community, the role of citizens in radical systemic change, and how we together create more democratic, distributed, open source social and civic infrastructure. Through this she has discovered much about economic justice and broader injustices, the pivotal role of land and social/civic infrastructure in neighbourhoods, and the value extracted from communities through our broken investment models.
Andres Roberts is a guide to human development through reconnection with nature. His work brings together innovative approaches to leadership and change, wisdom from ancient cultures and deep work with nature to support more whole and more generative forms of living and working for our times.
He is the founding partner of the Bio-Leadership Project, an original co-founder of Way of Nature UK, and a guide to contemporary rites of passage to support deep transformation. More recently Andres helped to launch the global Bio-Leadership Fellowship – a community of people changing the story of human progress by working with nature.
The Context :
How might our stories help design an economy in service to life?
The stories we tell in our culture weave a powerful narrative: the ‘narrative of separation’. This narrative shapes the way we think, feel and act every day.
It tells us that we are separate from the natural world that creates and maintains life, and separate from each other. It leads us to design an economy that destroys life, and encourages people to divide and compete.
This narrative is dangerously disconnected from reality, and is blocking the new, upgraded economic designs from being chosen.
The latest science – from neuroscience to physics and biology – is catching up with ancient wisdom to powerfully reveal this. A new narrative is emerging, and by creating space for it we can redesign the economy.
As storytellers, it is in our power to do this, with stories that help weave this new ‘narrative of interconnection’, of ‘interbeing’, and help us all design an economy that serves life, rather than destroys it.
In these times of converging crises, that great power to influence carries great responsibility.
Together we can use our collective creativity to help a more beautiful world emerge, and help our children and their children and all sentient beings lead more peaceful, meaningful and fulfilling lives.
There is no greater creative challenge.
We just need to begin.
The creative challenge :
To help this narrative emerge, we see two big story evolutions, based on two fundamental driving forces deeply engrained in our narrative of separation:
- How we view our relationship to nature
- How we measure success
The story that ‘Nature is our slave’, must evolve to the story that ‘Nature is our family.’
The story that ‘productivity is success’ must evolve to the story that ‘wellbeing is success’.
From ‘Horror stories’ to ‘Love stories’.
These stories might appear in various ways. How can we move from the left-hand column to the right-hand column?
Getting Started :
“Begin Anywhere” – John Cage
How can the things we create, as storytellers in culture, carry these story shifts?
We invite you to begin spotting, revealing and dropping the harmful ‘horror’ stories.
To begin spotting, sharing, creating and carrying the healthy ‘love’ stories.
To begin holding space for marginalised and oppressed voices who already carry these stories.
To begin helping each other let go of our deeply ingrained ‘horror’ stories, knowing how hard that is to do.
To begin healing the divides to unite us as members of that same natural family.
How might you explore this when you’re creating…?
- Film & TV
What could you find, or make and share today? Is it a #lovestory or a #horrorstory?
Use the hashtags #storiesforlife #inservicetolife
See them here:
“When an old culture is dying, the new culture is created by those people who are not afraid to be insecure ”