Storytelling

In June of 2016, I joined Greenpeace International’s Story Team as their new storytelling advisor. This is a relatively new team at Greenpeace but its existence is part of a new emphasis on critical narrative understanding in the environmental movement.

I joined just as we released the Framework, a ten-year vision document that will ground the strategy and plans for the global organization. In my first month, I drafted the summary version of this document. Since then, I have given short presentations of it to several communities in the organization.

The Framework itself is an opportunity for storytelling because its fundamental goal is systemic change through new social and cultural meta-narratives. We will pursue this goal by creating more inclusive and compelling stories — ones that can replace the stories that disempower people and have caused our current environmental crisis.

Entering this space of cultural change is daunting and exciting. It’s difficult to say how culture itself changes. Sometimes it appears to happen on its own. Other times, it appears to be catalyzed by certain movements or disruptions. It’s also interesting to think about how much effect culture has on society. On the one hand, each of us interprets and uses culture in different ways — often to serve our own perspectives. On the other, we cannot deny the impact of paradigm shifts in our culture (ie. outlawing slavery; gender equality etc.).

In light of this ambitious new direction at Greenpeace, I’m excited to design and launch a new set of trainings with my colleagues to teach the craft and theory of storytelling to Greenpeace staffers around the world. By the end of the year, I will have given trainings to Greenpeace offices in Mexico, Czech Republic, and Russia.

As we test the training materials, we will release them online to our Story Team website so that they can be available for public use. This is a part of our team’s ethos of working in an open and transparent method. We also recently launched out story guide as part of the content strategy for the new Greenpeace website, which my colleague Laura Hilliger is helping to lead.