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The role of storytelling

Number: 
6
David Heath, whose father George ran, until 1980, a big commercial market garden in the centre of Totnes

Challenge

The stories the media tell us and that we tell each other about the future are usually not actually very helpful as we move forward, giving us unrealistic expectations and no sense of the challenges and the opportunities ahead.

Description

Every culture and every generation tells stories about itself. Our dominant cultural stories speak of the ability of technology and human inventiveness to overcome challenge, and of perpetual economic growth, unfettered by living on a finite planet. In these less certain times, we need better and more appropriate stories.

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Solution

Weave storytelling, in its widest sense, through your Transition initiative, making films, raps, newspaper articles and small ads from the newspapers of the future, cartoons, animations, etc.

Full description

Every culture and every generation tells stories about itself. Our dominant cultural stories speak of the ability of technology and human inventiveness to overcome challenge, and of perpetual economic growth, unfettered by living on a finite planet. In these less certain times, we need better and more appropriate stories.

As Shaun Chamberlin points out in The Transition Timeline, Transition is a story that presents a collective view of energy descent as an opportunity, not a crisis. Storytelling is used in many ways in Transition, often in a literal and traditional way. In 2010 Steph Bradley of Transition Network spent six months walking around England visiting Transition initiatives, telling and gathering stories. While walking she kept a blog, chronicling her journey.[i] A gifted storyteller, the tale she now tells in workshops of her travels and of what different initiatives around England are doing is very inspiring.

Some initiatives use storytelling to reach young people. Transition Tales is a programme developed by Transition Town Totnes for all Year 7 students at the local secondary school. Over three sessions, students first learn about peak oil and climate change, then about storytelling, and are then invited to be TV newsreaders of the future, their ‘broadcasts’ being filmed and edited.

Much of what Transition initiatives do is akin to storytelling – creating projects that people talk about, and that indicate a possible future. For example, stories of towns creating their own currencies, setting up their own energy companies or growing food in unexpected places have a resonance far beyond the community where they occur.

Stories need not always be about the future; they can be used to bring the past to life too. One Transition Town Totnes event brought David Heath, son of George Heath who had, until 1980, run an extensive market garden in the centre of Totnes, back to where the garden had been (it is now a car park). David was invited to talk about how it ran and what happened where.

 


 

Comments

Jo Morphy's picture

Home education

I love the Transition Initiative being taken into secondary schools, as my son had to become home educated last November (year 7) I am wondering if there is any online Transition education for year 7 and upwards.  Thank you,  Jo Morphy (Rye)

The Transition Companion

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