What do we mean by Storytelling?

Storytelling is an ancient practice, but it has become a popular word lately.

It seems that everyone — from marketing/branding professionals to leadership trainers, political movers and shakers, academics, techies, and even counter-terrorism agencies — is interested in storytelling and more broadly, the power of narratives. Each group uses storytelling to serve its own interests and further its agenda. Story then serves as a tactical tool.

As someone who taught rhetoric and persuasive writing for years, I recognize this desire to use storytelling as a persuasive tool. Something that is, at the best of times, used to convince people. And at a worst of times, to manipulate or deceive. How do we use emotional story arcs, characters, conflict etc. to make people buy our product/ideology/candidate etc.

But at the end of the day, we cannot talk about story without thinking about power. 

For the environmental movement, too, there is also growing awareness of the critical power and factor of narrative. At Greenpeace, the Story Team is interested in building a truly democratic, inclusive and ground-up process for storytelling.

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November: The Surreal Month

Everyone has a story about election night. I was in Prague as the ballots were being counted, and in Moscow as the news of Trump’s victory sunk in.

As the votes came in, I had just finished a two-day pilot storytelling workshop for the Greenpeace Czech office, and was settling in at a nearby bar with my colleagues to have a few pints. In that basement bar, we talked about activism in Czechia. About the debacle of the Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Prague — when expressions of support for Tibet were stifled throughout the city. We debated about whether or not we could make compromises to our principles in order to “exist” in difficult states; we talked about the post-Soviet psyche and the decline of activism in Czechia.

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