The Art of Storytelling: A Catalyst for Positive Transformation

What persuades us to take action in a world that desperately needs citizen involvement to solve some of its most pressing challenges?

Facts and statistics are available to us in abundance: Wildlife populations have decreased by 69% in the past 50 years. The wealth gap between America’s richest and poorer families more than doubled from 1989 to 2016. In 2021, women made up 47.4% of the workforce, but only 31.7% of top executive roles.

These data points are compelling, but research in many fields has long since concluded that humans are hard-wired for stories, regardless of the facts on the ground. As the author Margaret Atwood describes it, storytelling is, “built into the human plan. We come with it.”

Storytelling has the ability to succeed where facts often fail, creating an emotional connection to a cause or issue. There are real people and real lives connected to each of the data points above — the empathy created by their stories can spell the difference between action and indifference.

In this newsletter, we’ll dive into the transformative potential of storytelling and explore the ways in which stories can be used as tools for social and environmental justice. From personal narratives that inspire us to take action, to community-based storytelling initiatives that empower people to share their stories, we’ll examine the many ways in which storytelling can be a catalyst for change.

Want more news like this? Sign up for the Bioneers Pulse to receive the latest news from the Bioneers community straight to your inbox.

Rebecca Solnit | Not Too Late: Changing the Climate Story from Despair to Possibility

How do we imagine what’s possible, what matters? Who we are shapes what we do, and what we do in the present shapes the future. In addition to the many practical, scientific and material aspects, the climate crisis has cultural aspects with which we need to engage in order to meet this emergency. Drawing from the new anthology she co-edited, Not Too Late: Changing the Climate Story from Despair to Possibility, Rebecca Solnit talks about the stories emerging from what science, Indigenous leadership, good organizing, and visionary thinkers are giving us. These stories offer grounds for hope and the work hope does.

Watch Rebecca Solnit’s Presentation

Amara Ifeji | Storytelling for Social Change

Amara Ifeji mobilized a grassroots effort to address racism in her high school in Maine, at age 14. She also developed a love for the mountains and woods around her, but she saw her passions for the environment and racial justice as distinct until she heard youth of color like herself share their experiences working at this intersection and realized these struggles were completely intertwined. She shares how this awakening shaped her subsequent work as a remarkably effective organizer and advocate who centers storytelling to advance environmental justice, climate education, and outdoor learning for ALL youth.

Watch Amara Ifeji’s Presentation

Can Storytellers Help Change the World? From Fictional Narrative to Real World Change

In times of crisis, societies look to their storytellers to understand and process the challenges they face and to peek around corners to see pathways that purely rational analyses simply don’t reveal. Today, best-sellers in fiction and memoir are setting real-world information about the climate crisis, social justice movements, and migration realities within their narratives. Audiences are ready for these stories, but what about artists? Does the moment dictate the art? Join a conversation with leading writers about their creative process, how they consider the bigger local and global conversations as they craft their work, and the relationship between fictional narratives and real world movements for change.

Read the Conversation

Kim Stanley Robinson | What I’ve Learned since The Ministry for the Future Came Out in 2020

Kim Stanley Robinson is one of our greatest living science fiction writers. His more than 20 award-winning books over four decades, translated into some 26 languages, have included many highly influential, international bestselling tomes that brilliantly explore in a wide range of ways the great ecological, economic and socio-political crises facing our species, yet nothing had prepared him for the global explosion of interest in his visionary 2020 novel, The Ministry for the Future, which projects how a possible climate-disrupted future might unfold and how the world might respond meaningfully. It’s also chock full of brilliant science and wildly imaginative ways humanity steps up. Among other results, he was invited by the UN to speak at COP-26 in Glasgow. In this presentation, Stan offers us his overview of where we currently stand in relation to the climate crisis.

Watch Kim Stanley Robinson’s Presentation

Solutions Journalism within a Shaky Media Landscape: An Interview with Evette Dionne of YES! Media

We had the opportunity to sit down with Evette Dionne, YES! Media’s executive editor for nearly a year. YES! Media has been traversing the media’s choppy waters for 27 years. As an independent nonprofit publisher, the organization has consistently prided itself on publishing high-quality, solutions-focused journalism. YES! seeks to be a constructive part of essential conversations, and while it has managed to stay afloat without sacrificing its values, its success hasn’t come easily.

Read the article to see how you can subscribe to YES! Magazine at a discounted rate.

Read a Q&A with Evette Dionne of YES! Magazine

Bioneers Learning: Permaculture, Regenerative Design and Earth Repair for the Great Turning with Penny Livingston

Through engaging courses led by some of the world’s foremost movement leaders, the brand new Bioneers Learning platform equips engaged citizens and professionals like you with the knowledge, tools, resources and networks to initiate or deepen your engagement, leading to real change in your life and community.

Register now for a live course with Penny Livingston, “Permaculture, Regenerative Design and Earth Repair for the Great Turning,” to learn about the principles of permaculture, including how to work with natural systems, design for resilience, and create regenerative systems.

Register Now

Keep Your Finger on the Pulse

Our bi-weekly newsletter provides insights into the people, projects, and organizations creating lasting change in the world.