There’s a lot being written at the moment about how we need a new story.
I’m not going to argue with this (I think we need a new everything). Still, let’s not get bogged down this early on. I’m kind hoping this post might complete the loop back to this point anyway.
We neglect the importance of storytelling at our peril.
From our very earliest days we are shaped by stories.
Our first stories begin as an encounter with another person. They become relationships and they and us are all shaped through them.
We narrate a story ourselves continually throughout our lives. We are quite literally (at least mentally) made of them.
Our culture, our knowledge, our institutions.
Stories have the power to shape and influence our lives and our society. This is an inescapable truth.
Stories can create and contain. They can release and imprison us.
Perhaps we should be writing them not them us?
Maybe there’s another story where we could all be free?
Freedom vs Imposition
I think quite a lot about networks and I think that they have interesting properties which can be used to achieve quite radical effects.
At this point it would be worth reading a previous post of mine which explains a network effect on degrees of freedom (section is headed ‘Thinking of freedom within networks’).
The analogy between rail and road in that post also reflect 2 different kinds of story.
In the first (rail) you travel along a predetermined path (an actor in another’s story — it’s a form of limitation/imposition).
In the second (road) you are given the ability to choose your own path (self-authoring —it creates additional freedom).
If you look closely at your own life it is highly likely that you think of yourself as being free, having agency to make your own decisions and living a life you have chosen for yourself.
The truth may actually run counter to this.
For most of us our freedom, agency and life take place within multiple stories over which we have no control. Not only that but we have no comprehension that it’s even happening.
I believe that ss we move into the Network Age it is possible for us to re-architect our society so that we become increasingly free.
But we will need to learn how to be free too.
We will need to learn how to self-author. We will need to become more cognizant of our desires and self. We will need to understand our potential and forecast the future.
It’s not a story of us left to fend for ourselves though! We can create networks, groups, organisations and technologies which can nurture and support us. We can help each other.
Our stories can be purposeful, rewarding and developmental.
A Story Based Development Architecture
Ok. Are you ready to chop the head off an orc? Hurrah!
A classic storytelling device is called the hero's journey. It describes a series of steps that the protagonist takes before returning home a changed person.
For all its adventure and mythicism it is at its heart a story of personal development.
If we tone it down a tad then we actually get something a little more fitting for the world we find ourselves within.
This would be a more realistic story arc.
Person sets out to help their community/local area. Learns new things about the world and themselves. Gains skills knowledge and experience. Changes things for the better. Returns to the begining ready for the next challenge.
It is a cyclic process. As are these.
It is possible to for community and social action projects to contain much more potential for growth, learning and development than we think.
The idea behind a Story Based Development Architecture would be to help us consider how elements of projects could be used within other people’s stories to help them develop, grow and move on.
People and organisations should be able to participate in local projects in a way in which when they return to their lives and jobs they do so with skills, knowledge and experiences that will be of use.
In this way multiple benefits are realised for everyone involved at the same time as positive changes are made to the society we live in.
The Big Picture
The big story of today is climate change.
When we bring this huge issue closer to communities what we see is that there is much that can be done locally to rise to the challenge.
The same goes for major social issues such as Loneliness and Health & Wellbeing.
The key is to bring together every part of our society into a bigger picture in which everyone plays a part and everyone makes a difference.
Connecting people to the world around them (the ‘we’ and the ‘eco’) whilst also recognising the existence and needs of the individual or organisation (the ‘self’ and the ‘ego’).
It’s a larger narrative that consists of 67 million ever-changing stories that people continually write for themselves.
Brought into being by their ability to create and choose.