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Co-Creating the Future We Want

The power of Storytelling

This the fourth article in the series of ‘co-creating the Future We Want‘ from a climate change and sustainability perspective. We completed the last article by introducing Climate Conversations. In this article we dive more deeply in the power of Storytelling with useful resources for learning about the kind of narratives that inspire and those that block learning and change.

Storytelling to inspire learning and change

Storytelling is one of the oldest and most powerful ways to inspire change, facilitate connection, and raise awareness. The stories that we tell about ourselves, about each other and about the time in which we live can have a profound effect on how we engage with the world, and the actions we are (not) willing to take.

We believe that it is time to tell the story about our sustainability crisis in a different way, and to apply storytelling wisdom to ignite the necessary changes for sustainability. At ELIA we apply storytelling in all our services to inspire people to make the changes for a sustainable society and future. We also share the stories of change from the people we work with, to encourage others that little changes can create amazing impacts of positive ripple effects.

For example, by sharing the stories of change from the ELIA Education for Sustainability programme and the amazing works of the EFS pilot schools with people on the Sustainability Professionals linked-in group, our current intern Manar Shibly from Syria (studying in Europe) was able to learn about what we were doing. We shared news from the schools with Manar and she ‘happened’ to be looking for an internship to complete her Masters degree. She is now working with ELIA for period April-July 2014 as an intern with us researching evaluation methodologies and stakeholder engagement for sustainability education, with the EFS programme in Mauritius as a case-study. You just never know where stories can take us…. and who we meet by sharing our story.

On this platform and upcoming EFS publications you will be able to read the stories of change from the teachers and students involved in the EFS programme. The programme provides many powerful examples of how the narrative of learning for sustainability changed the more people engaged with their heart. And as the narrative for sustainability education started to change, and teachers and students started to tell the story of their learning through direct personal experience and motivation, many more people felt motivated to join-in.

When the programme started in 2011, the narratives tended to focus on “we have to do this, we are told to do this, in order to be responsible I suppose we should do something for the environment.” Whereas now after a couple of years we start to see the emergence of a very different kind of narrative that is centered around: “I want to contribute, it is my personal and professional choice to get involved, together we can do this, it brings us back to the purpose education” and “the EFS programme inspires and challenges me as a teacher to always look for ways and means to relate the academic to the natural world, for the benefit and development of my students” (Anamantoo Boni Bangari, March 2014).

The following article by Richard Matthews titled Why We Need a New Climate Change Narrative (February 2014) offers many valuable insights about the kind of narratives that move and those that block positive change. As Matthews says in this article: “These new narratives are a fundamental first step. They will clear the way for a paradigm shift that will make broad spectrum progress possible. Unless people see a way forward, they will not move in the right direction. We need systemic solutions that can only come from a paradigm shift, but first we need to lay the foundation with new narratives.”

We thank Park Howell for sharing with us the following resource for storytelling to inspire change for sustainability: Slide Share – The Story Cycle.

For more inspiration have a look at these valuable videos below:

The Story of Change

Wake-up Call!

 

Copyright © Anneloes Smitsman – first published on ELIA-Ecological Living In Action blog 17 May 2014.

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