It's time to make changes that make a difference

Our lives are framed now with the uncertainties of COVID-19, the certainties of Climate Catastrophe and an array of social, political and economic factors that often drive communities apart rather than weave them together. Most of us are weary. Many of us are ready to make significant changes.

NewStories is here to help you change your story and change what’s possible. We’re facilitators, thought partners and teachers. For almost 20 years now we have co-created the spaces where people gather to listen to each other, make sense of complex issues, and to take steps which lead to wise action — changing lives, communities and organizations.

We are an intergenerational teams of diverse master practitioners – social process designers, facilitators, community organizers, artists, mindfulness guides, coaches and storytellers – from all over the world who have, for decades, been designing and facilitating spaces where people learn and find their way forward, together

what we offer

Community

We are

  • consultants and thought partners who can help you develop a comprehensive community-engaged approach to disaster preparedness and community resilience.
  • trainers for agency and government staff, nonprofit leaders, community change makers, helping you learn methods to work generatively with complex issues and invite, engage and facilitate.
  • facilitators and designers of meetings and community engagement processes where participants prioritize, make sense and find meaning, measure and evaluate and take community-based action.
  • system thinkers who can help you bridge differences within community as well connect local to the regional context
Ready to change what’s possible?  We can help. 

Community Strategies - Wise Actions

Community is the foundation for wise action. NewStories will help you work inside your organization and out in your community to find a way forward – no matter what is going on. We’ll help you listen to each other better. We’ll show you how to get clear about where you’re going, and to define the next, elegant minimum steps towards that horizon. Using tools for community engagement, we will help you transform.

We will help you have conversations that matter using approaches from Art of Hosting and FutureSessions. We will use approaches like Theory U and Two Loops to better understand your problems from the past and possibilities for the future. We will invite you to frame your work as regenerating community – building systems of change which nourish life. We will ask you to tend to the anger, trauma, grief and anxiety ever present these days. We will step with courage ways in which power is wielded in your organization and community and move towards greater equity, diversity and inclusion. 

There’s no time to lose, AND we must learn patience, kindness, trust and love.
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Increase Your Skills and Capacity

Are you ready to sharpen your effectiveness as an agent of change? NewStories offers an increasing array of virtual workshops and seminars. Our learning programs give you a place to pause and reflect on what you’ve been doing and what you’ve been learning. They help you develop the skills to attend to the many dimensions of engaging communities now. We’ll help you learn new ways of seeing and analyzing.

Like many other organizations we started offering more virtual learning programs after the pandemic was announced on March 11, 2020. Sometimes we simply provided a generative space for people to gather, reflect and make sense of these times. Other times we invited participants to join a cohort for a handful of weeks or months to develop skills in working with grief, transforming organizational structures, hosting conversations that matter. All of this work has laid a foundation for deeper programs in the fall of 2021 and into 2022. Visit our NewStories Learning Centre on Sutra for an overview of what’s coming. 

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Engage in deep learning

NewStories can help you create a customized  learning program that helps your people in your community or organization learn how to lead more effectively and take  action in these turbulent times.  We can co-create custom workshops, seminars, retreats, and learning journeys addressing your needs and goals.

Maybe a workshop on participatory leadership would help in an organizational change effort. Perhaps a learning journey to listen differently to people in the community would be helpful. Maybe it is time for a retreat to look really closely at past work. Changing your story is easier with experiences which give new perspectives and insights. 

Talk to us about what you want to learn, and we’ll create a plan to help get you there

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Use Disruption as a Springboard

Most of us did not expect to live in this world. Dilemmas of economic inequality show up all around us. Wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes and blizzards destroy our ecosystems and communities. COVID-19 casts a shadow across our lives. We can – and must – use these disasters and disruptions springboards.

 

For more than 2 decades NewStories has worked with disaster, disruption and collapse. We’ve been there when Zimbabwe started to fall apart in the beginning of this century. We worked with people and communities across Japan after the Triple Disasters of March 11, 2011. We stand with those whose lives have been upended by wildfire in California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia, as well as in Australia. We are allies to indigenous peoples whose lives and livelihood are uprooted through climate forced displacement.

Our founder, Bob Stilger’s 2017 book AfterNow: When We Cannot See the Future, Where Do We Begin? draws together some of what we have learned.  We will work with you, in your disruptive context, to help you find your vision, values and beliefs, determine what next steps to create, and create scaffolding for ongoing reflection and action.

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our core team

NewStories provides facilitation and strategic convening services with a core team of skilled practitioners who have worked together for a number of years.

Finding a new way forward has key requirements

reimagine Leadership



It’s time to create the conditions which release the enormous insights and gifts present in every community. Too frequently leadership is confused with the exercise of power and control. At NewStories we understand that leadership is really about creating the conditions which allow systems to flourish. Leadership begins with deep listening to begin to really understand what is present. It continues with connecting people around a particular purpose so they can listen to each other and find their way towards right action. The next step is to take a first step and then pause to reflect on what just happened before taking the next step. Begin slow and small for effective impact. As a path becomes clear, good leadership shares the story of what’s happening to inspire, inform and invite others.

This participatory leadership is life-affirming. It centers respect, curiosity and generosity. It invites each person to step forward and offer their leadership. We must regenerate our communities together, in partnership with each other and with life itself.

Regenerate Community



Seems like the word “regenerating” has become almost commonplace now. NewStories started using it almost three years ago after the Camp Fire turned the town of Paradise California with a population of 27,000 to ashes on November 8, 2018. The opportunity at hand was not about disaster or about recovery. It was about how we regenerate healthy and resilient communities. Our friends in Onagawa, Japan, were able to see the tsunami that destroyed their lovely fishing village of 10,000 people on March 11, 2011 as a once in a thousand-year opportunity to build the community they yearned for.

Regenerating Community means recognizing communities as vibrant life forms themselves. We can work in our communities in ways that continually connect more of the community to itself and which nourish rather than deplete energy, will and vitality of community. This means increasing both self-reliance as well as fostering interdependence.

Share Stories To Inspire, Inform And Invite

The stories we tell ourselves and tell each other both shape and are shaped by our worldview. Throughout history, people work together and do amazing things which make their lives and communities better. Unfortunately, this local change work is often invisible. Those engaged sometimes become dispirited and give up because it is not clear how their “little effort” can make enough of a difference to make a difference. We now have superpowers to make these local stories visible. They inspire, inform and invite others into their own change work. Sharing stories illuminates the paths we are walking. We reach to lessons learned over millennia and the stories that carry them. Let's put wind beneath the wings of these old and new stories and let them guide our transformations.

Embodied, Enspirited and In Place

It’s clear now that more than our fine minds are required to guide and support the work required now. Our bodies know and we must learn to listen to them more. Those twitches and sighs and gut tightenings have meaning. Spirit, the great mystery, the more than human world offers us guidance and partnership when we remember to pay attention. Where we stand, the places we inhabit also beg us to listen now.

Our world is so much more than what we think and the transformations required in these times relay on greater and greater access to that whole world. Rituals, routines, protocols and practices give us access to these other dimensions. Let’s cultivate them.

Work Consciously With Emotions

You’ve noticed, right? People are pissed off, depressed and angry. Moments of joy and laughter remind us of what it means to be human. Trauma, anxiety and uncertainty mark the paths we walk.

This is a time between stories. Many of the ways we have made sense and found meaning in our lives no longer feel adequate. We must develop new muscles now. We must befriend the grief that arises in us. It shows us our longing and can give us the strength to build lives we want. Trauma we have experienced must be greeted and acknowledged in ways that heal. Doing so is essential if we are to stay present in the here and now, dancing with what is happening now rather than having it trigger past paralyzing memories. Anxiety, likewise, can either immobilize us and lead us to lashing out, or we can learn to use it as a reminder to breathe, let go and come back to the present.

Shift Power




Ultimately very little changes without fundamental shifts in who has power and how it is wielded at all levels - in our lives, our organizations, our communities and our world. George Floyd’s murder woke white people up in new ways and unleashed the anger and resentment BIPOC people feel. Diversity, equity and inclusion work was brought forward. What we are really talking about is who has power. Organizations and communities, confronting both deep and systemic problems as well as massive possibilities know they need creativity, innovation, commitment and trust. What they sometimes can’t see is that these essential capabilities are blocked because some have power and some don’t. Who gets to decide is often determined by gender, race, age and wealth.

We’ve said for years that the only worse structure for wielding power than rigid hierarchy is amorphous flat. We each have different capabilities, insights, and energy. Unfortunately -- and especially because of the debilitating levels of social-emotional trauma -- these capacities are locked down. Decisions are made too frequently by people who see only part of the whole picture. Sometimes they’re made because people with power get tired of listening and thinking and just want to move on.

Cultivate Intergenerational Interdependence



We live in times when it is essential to bring forward the wisdom and strength of all our generations. We must reach out across all the generational divides and remember how to listen, trust and respect each other. We’re all in this together. All too often we are distrustful and judgmental about other generations. Frequently older people demand respect, and offer little respect in return. Sometimes younger people blame those older for the messes we’re in and say they can’t be trusted.

When we listen to each other, magic happens. Our questions, stories, insights and experience connect us. When we create the conditions that allow each of us to step forward and offer what we can, we release the full potential of community. Certainly, this is true of all the kinds of diversity present in community -- creativity thrives with diversity. Intergenerational diversity is almost always available to us. Time to bring it on.

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WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

Regenerating Paradise

The story of Paradise, California and its neighbors was thoroughly disrupted by the Camp Fire on November 8, 2018.  As the wind-driven blaze devoured nine out of ten structures in the area, our people fled their homes, neighborhoods and community, toward uncertainty.   Over 50,000 of us were suddenly unhoused, disconnected, living in diaspora.  85 of (Continue Reading)

David Leon Zink Regenerating Paradise Board Chair

stories from our work

Bob Stilger

Paradise

How Paradise, California regenerates a healthy and resilient community after the devastating fires of November, 2018 may provide critical learning on how communities step beyond the almost irresistible force to return to the old normal after disaster. Here’s a bit of what we are discovering with Paradisans.

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Strategic Convening Services

 

We offer skills and services for strategic convening both as an expression of our core competencies and as a way to bring revenue into our eco-system. Offered with and through the members of our NewStories Team, we contract with organizations and communities to convene strategic conversations which lead to new action and conscious change. As thinking partners, community organizers, facilitators and hosts, artists and consultants, we work with communities, organizations and systems to help them discover what they already know, to take new effective action and to weave those actions into systems of influence.

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