May 2013

Great Transition Story Strategy Guide

Tackling the current global ecological and social crises urgently requires a cultural transformation away from today’s dominant consumerism and nationalism towards a culture of wellbeing with simpler living and a sense of planetary solidarity and identity.

Civil society organisations (CSOs) have a crucial role in helping to bring about such a Great Transition to a sustainable and equitable future (more about the vision of the Great Transition in the annex). Yet, current CSO campaigns often fail to address the cultural dimension of the Great Transition. The shortcomings can be found at two levels:

  • The heavy reliance on technical facts and rational arguments fails to address the importance of the non-conscious mind in human behaviour.
  • Short-term tactics, i.e. the hope to move the political agenda forward by playing the game of government and business often means that CSOs are communicating the very values and frames of our current culture of self-interest and national interest.

If civil society organisations want to become a positive force in the necessary cultural transformation, they need to learn how to tap into the creative world of mythmaking.

The Great Transition Story Strategy Guide is the result of the discussions at the Smart CSOs storytelling workshop (in November 2012 in Cologne, Germany) where a group of people from different CSOs gathered and guided by globally-acclaimed storyteller Jonah Sachs explored how stories can effectively contribute to creating myths that help to bring about the Great Transition. It is based on the proven methodology Jonah Sachs uses to guide campaigns towards great storytelling (also see his book, Winning the Story Wars: Why Those Who Tell—and Live—the Best Stories will Rule the Future).

We hope that this guide will inspire other actors in civil society to start thinking about how they can contribute to the Great Transition through telling (and living) new stories.