Storytelling plays an important and valuable role in making the transition to a post-peak oil culture, although it may not be an obvious role at first. When I was introduced to the Transition movement, areas like storytelling and inner transition seemed fuzzy to me. I wasn’t sure how they fit into the picture of resilient living, but the more that I read about Transition and the more documentaries I watched (which was a lot!), I began to understand the power that storytelling holds.
Storytelling has become a bit of a catch-phrase lately. It’s important to be able to tell a story about your vision. This idea applies to conveying new ideas to potential customers, but also applies to movements around social change. In some ways, it may be most important way to reach new people. In his amazing talk, Andrew Stanton, a wonderful filmmaker, shares he knows about storytelling. (warning: contains some graphic language!) Andrew shares what he believe are the key elements to telling a great story.
Looking beyond the concept of storytelling, there is an idea which is core to the Transition movement called “visioning“. Visioning is a special kind of storytelling which asks the storyteller to not just tell a compelling and convincing story, but to lay out what they believe will come to pass in the future. It is their vision. Visioning allows us to imagine a future rich with possibilities and then work to make that vision a reality.
One of my biggest “aha!” moments was reading through the Transition Handbook. Author Rob Hopkins was sharing visions from follow environmentalists and each was describing what a successful post-carbon world would look like, smell like, sound like. They described how we would spend our time, find meaningful work, and connect with our communities. Collectively, what these people shared provided a future that I could believe in and help work towards. By sharing their vision, their story, they have reached countless individuals who have a hard time imagining what our world might look like in 20 years! Another great example is the storytelling in In Transition, a documentary which introduces the concepts of the Transition movement.
Of course, following up with action is then the next step. In looking at the visions we have created, we can then start to think about how that vision might become reality!
The next time you’re hanging out with friends or family, try striking up a conversation about how they see the future when we no longer have access to cheap oil. A word of warning, you may be faced with a lot of “I don’t know…. what do you mean?”s. Try asking questions like “If we didn’t have cars, how would we get around? Where would we find work? What would we do for vacations?” and I think you’ll find that you’ll get some inventive ideas!