Let’s Change the Narrative!
Updated: Oct 20, 2021
Stories have always been a fundamental contributor to human evolution. Through stories, we learn about life, we understand stuff, and we take courage, solace and inspiration. Inspiration to change, to grow, to act.
It is late 2021, and as the Earth’s climate reaches one tipping point after another, we need to do all of that at all levels: learn, change, act. And storytellers can and must do their bit.
I will set out my vision for this in several initial posts, beginning with the basic concept: let’s change the narrative. I see two specific narratives currently stopping people from taking action against the coming catastrophes.
‘It’s terrible, but it doesn’t affect me.’ Wrong.
This narrative is being changed for us, as the 2021 fires, floods and insane heat waves in areas hitherto considered safe from the effects of climate change have shown. Ski lifts in Lake Tahoe dancing above a raging forest fire. 48°C on the Eastern Seaboard. Livelihoods washed away by raging waters in ‘safe’, sleepy Germany.
‘I can’t do anything about it.’ Wrong.
We do have agency. There is power in collective action. Everyone can make small changes (with genuine win-win opportunities); those who can afford to have an obligation to make big changes (money is power); together, these individual changes can make a real difference and perhaps build into ripple effects.
Make climate action part of your story DNA
How can storytellers - from authors to filmmakers, from poets to performing artists - contribute to achieving the necessary changes? Here’s one way: make new principles part of our storytelling DNA, so that nature-positive behaviour and awareness become mainstream. Then find ways to get our audiences to shift from awareness to action.
I have come up with a few such principles, each of which I will elaborate in more detail in the next few posts. Above all, I believe that Ecotopian stories should be entertaining and engaging - highlight the positive, focus on solutions!
So tune in next week to read about Green Heroes in fun (even funny), thrilling or exciting climate action - and a warning for Eco Villains: change or die! (Or, worse, be humiliated.)