We don’t live in the world – we live in our stories about the world.
Like the air we breathe, there is an invisible field of stories all around us and through us, whether or not we are conscious of it. Story is the way we pass on our history, our beliefs, our points of view. It is the way we teach our children and show them their place in the universe. Story is the way we tell our friends what is going on in our lives and how we perceive our reality. This StoryField is what makes meaning for our lives. It contains the totality of our cultural and collective myths, beliefs, ideas, patterns, history, and capacities specific to being embodied human beings. It shapes what we think and how we act. And we shape it through our thoughts and actions through time.
Why is this important? Story, at this meta-level of pattern, is the core seed from which thought and behavior emanate. Like a central cog in a watch or complex machine, if you can move the innermost cog even a little bit, the rest of the pattern changes. If we are truly to consider new stories, new possibilities for our lives and for the future of our planet, we need to know the stories we are already in that our shaping us and begin to learn how we might change the story towards a more joyful and life-affirming .
At an individual level, we are all enacting a story whether or not we know what it is. Some stories are transformational and can serve as guides for our journeys, some are not and lead us to dead ends. Similarly, at a collective level, we are engaged in many different stories, some of which we already know from past experience lead to painful and destructive ends. Others, patterned on what we already know creates joy, health and wellbeing, offer hope for a more thriving future.
It is these larger, archetypal, often hidden stories that we address at NewStories, stories that sweep huge swaths of the human population into a particular configuration of beliefs of what has meaning and how the world works. Some of these stories are held in religions, some in cultural traditions, some come out of different eras of scientific understanding that have changed through time. Some come out of myths and fairytales. Some come out of different movements of intellectual or political thought, like the Renaissance or the Reformation.
Where NewStories Works
The map that we use to focus our work is called Two Loops. It is a snapshot of a larger diagram showing how cultural paradigms shift through time. We see one loop descending in what some call the fall of our current civilization or at least the worldview that we have been operating under. We also see a new wave beginning, the rise of new possibilities. Our work is largely oriented towards nourishing and building what is emerging, and helping people to bridge across from the old paradigm to the new.
The paradigm we see declining is the one set in motion a few centuries ago with the advent of Descartes clockwork model of the universe, where Earth is seen as essentially dead matter with no moral responsibility connected with extracting everything from it as if it were a warehouse of resources for human consumption. It has many elements to it that are currently breaking up; it springs out of a patriarchal understanding of order and dominance, treats people as commodities. Much of this has worked to make many of the countries and some of its people prosperous, but it is no longer working for a vast majority of people and more and more obviously for the planet itself. Yes, Earth will survive us, but will we survive what we are doing to it?
Our work is to highlight those people, projects and things that support cooperation, collaboration, diversity, well-being for all by teaching people how to host the kinds of conversations that create new possibilities. We believe that a collective working together can create something beyond what any individual can alone. And that our times call for all hands on deck to address the global issues that we have created through time.
How We Work With Story
NewStories believes we are in a time of systems collapse and rebirth. Collective experiences of floods, fires, earthquakes, tsunamis, sea rise, nuclear meltdowns, healthcare failure, mass shootings, opioid addictions and much more tell us that things just are not okay. These experiences are a slap in the face, a wakeup call, asking us to consider what larger stories we want to be been living in. These crises and catastrophes break open and lay bare our current stories. While there is an almost irresistible pressure to return to the old story, there is also an invitation to create a new one.
We work at that crack to help the light get in where it becomes possible for a new opportunity emerge. We start with the assumption that the community has the answer, that you increase the health of a system by connecting it to more of itself. We’ve been privileged to provide services in many places where the story has been broken in places like Zimbabwe, Japan, Northern California, Alaska and Cherokee Nation. Our work is with local partners to connect and convene communities in new ways that have both space to grieve what is gone and to create what might be.
"There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in."
- Leonard Cohen
How Stories Relate To Our Purpose
We live in a time where old paradigms are breaking down, and new ways of being are being built. Yet we are currently in a middle ground – and where the old stories are dissolving, new ones are needing to be written.
Our work and mission is all about supporting individuals and communities to rewrite those new stories that will reshape the values, worldviews, and beliefs needed for great change in these times of transition.
We, ourselves, are a new story in the making – undergoing constant change as we work together to discover what we can offer on this beautiful and amazing planet in these chaotic and uncertain times.