Writers' Visions - Marion's Current Favourites

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How the StoryTelling Hall Won its Power – Steph Bradley

Posted on June 13th, 2012 by Marion

I’d like to offer my most heartfelt thanks to Steph Bradley, who has generously allowed me to include this delightful, and, I hope, inspiring piece of writing, so very much in the spirit of this website. Read it together with Starhawk’s guided tour of San Francisco in 2047 and you will gain some idea of the creative possibilities of this future visioning.

Do check out Steph’s beautiful website, and read some of her accounts of her walk around the country collecting ‘Transition Tales’. You can also buy a copy of Quest, the future community game.  She deserves our full support. http://www.storyweaving.co.uk – Marion


The EDP Heroes.
Part One – How the StoryTelling Hall Won its Power

Once, upon a time yet to come, in the year 2030, there was a town that was not too small, and not too big, with a river running through it, and a steep, steep High Street, with a hill that had a castle on the top.
In this town, that was not too small, and not too big, the townsfolk were gathered in a strangely incongruous building; a remnant of a bygone time, a time when all connection to the land had almost been lost, and concrete and cement and straight, straight lines were seen as quite normal.
They gathered in this building to remember. This was a story telling space, one of many, but this one had a special significance to the people, for this was where they gathered to hear the stories of the Great Time of Transition.
The people were seated on the ground, on cushions, and rugs, in softly huddled groups of couples, and families, friends and loved ones, youngers and elders in a big friendly muddle of mutual support.
Slightly apart from the others sat a small group of youngers who had chosen, and been chosen, for the important job of Rememberers. Their attention was focussed on the oldest and most mysterious of the elders, who sat with a far away look in her eyes, whilst they waited with baited breath to hear what she would say…

“Once,” began the elder, and all eyes turned to her, “upon a long, long, long while ago there was a town that was not too small and not too big, with a river running through it, and a steep, steep High Street, with a hill that had a castle on the top,” and the townsfolk relaxed against one another in the comfort of the familiar words that always preluded the stories of their town.
“And the people of this town,” continued the elder, “were pretty happy really, for those times, they had jobs to go to, schools for the children, food in the shops, cars to get around, and energy to heat their homes…” but the Rememberers were looking puzzled,
“What are jobs,” they asked, “schools, cars, energy?”
“So many questions,” smiled the Elder gently. How things have changed she sighed to herself and her eyes focussed to a point far away and the gathered ones wondered where she had gone. The older ones knew, and recalled the time when they had worked to collect tokens they had called money, which they had to use to buy special clothes for their children to go to school, to buy food from the shops, fuel for their cars, energy to heat their homes, and how there had never quite been enough tokens for everyone to have enough.
But the Elder had continued
“Cars, she said, “were metal boxes where 5 people could sit and in them they could get to places faster. They had 4 wheels and they were quite dangerous – sometimes they went so fast they ran quite over people and sometimes they died. They smelled bad too, and needed the land to be coated in a hard substance called tarmac which meant plants couldn’t grow there”
“Ugh,” said the Remembers, “why did people want those?”
“Ah, it was normal back then. You see everyone was in such a rush, the faster you went the more money you could make, the more things you could buy, and people back then thought things made you happy…”
“What was school?” asked another Rememberer, keenly aware of his role in his town.
“School,” said the Elder, was where children were sent every day to learn things”
“But didn’t they learn together with everyone else from the things their environment presented to them each and every day?” puzzled the Rememberers
“Ah, well you see back then people had forgotten many things; they didn’t have Rememberers then to help them.”
The Rememberers glowed with the warmth of knowing their integral importance to their town.
“So”, continued the Elder, “back then in the town that was not too small, and not too big people were pretty happy, for those times. Of course there was the age old quarrel of whether cars should be allowed to run up and down the High Street…”
“Run up and down the High Street” came the indignant response, as the townsfolk tried to imagine their thriving street market full of dangerous metal boxes that moved so fast they had the potential to kill. Besides, they couldn’t even begin to imagine how they would fit amongst the street hawkers, the colourful vegetable boxes everyone had fastened onto the front of their houses, and the open fronted shops that spilled out their wares into the street, and the comfy wooden benches that formed cosy half circles periodically where friends who met could sit and pass the time of day and drink the freshly pressed sweet apple juice the street hawkers brought in the autumn, and the delicious berry & almond milk smoothies that were available in the summer, the mulled wine from the local vineyard in the winter, and the hot spicy apple & pear cider that was made in the Spring from the autumn harvest.
“Well, that was how it was back then,” said the Elder, undeterred from her story. “Of course there were many different sorts of people living there – there were the locals, whose families had been living in the neighbourhood for generations, the farmers and the shopkeepers…”
“But didn’t everyone farm and keep a shop” asked a very perplexed Rememberer.
“Not then” came the reply. “Then not everyone had access to land, or a shop…”
“But how did they survive?” asked a younger in horror.
“Ah well, you see that was before the land reform, before the banks were abolished,” replied the Elder. “It was a very different system then. That story is for another time. Tonight we hear about the Great Time of Transition. So, as well as the locals there were the off-comers”
“Off comers?”
“…Those that had been born in other places. There was a lot more movement in those days. There were the wealthy…”
“The wealthy?”
“Those that had a lot of money and could afford to move into the town that was not too small and not too big, from cities and larger towns to escape stress”
“Stress was the main cause of disease back then. It was caused by everyone going too fast”
“Ah, “ said a Rememberer eagerly “because of the cars…?”
“That and many, many other technological things. That was before the Technological Reform, when everyone agreed that technology was always the last resort and a community consensus had to be agreed before anyone had permission to use any.
And then there were the hippies
“What were hippies?”
The Elder smiled as if to herself and replied “they were the alternative thinkers, the ones with ideas ahead of their time. And there were the homeless ones, the beggars”
“People who had no money at all.”
“What a strange system,” mused one of the townsfolk “where there weren’t enough tokens to go round, but some had more than others. Why didn’t they collect it all up and give it out again like we do every Christmas?”
At that everyone beamed a big grin – no one much knew how it had come about that the old Christian festival had been given a very special role in the checking that everyone had equal shares in the town’s resources, but it was a favourite time for all, a time to see who needed help in distributing their surplus, and who needed to take more to feed a new mouth or support to try out a new idea.
“Well,” continued the Elder, “as I said for those times the town that was not too small and not too big was a pretty good place to live. People had jobs, children went to school, & there was food in the shops, and transport, and energy to heat their homes. And then one day things started to change. The scientists…”
“What were scientists?”
“Back then people were specialists, and the scientists were those who studied and measured the things they observed in the environment, and what they discovered was a terrible thing, a dreadful challenge, a monster – and that monster’s name was
And CLIMATE CHANGE caused terrible things to happen like tidal waves, and earthquakes, and hurricanes, and people died.
The Rememberers shuddered, and gulped as they imagined the monster that CLIMATE CHANGE was.
But the monster of CLIMATE CHANGE was after all very far away so after a while, though the people of the town that was not too big and not too small were shocked by the stories they heard, they soon forgot as life was really not too bad at all for them, they had jobs, schools for their children, food in the shops, transport, and energy to heat their homes.
And then, the Scientists came with the story of another monster, who seemed to be related somehow to CLIMATE CHANGE though few could explain exactly how, and this monster’s name was
And this was really a very intelligent monster for he could charm them, he really was very seductive for some of his effects were really quite attractive to the people of the town that was not too big and not too small, truth be told, they quite liked sunbathing in October, even though they knew that elsewhere he caused drought, and deserts to grow larger, and Ice Caps to melt so that the polar bears lost their homes.
And then came news of yet another monster,
And the scariest thing about this monster was that most people didn’t really understand what he looked like or what his effects were.
And then one day, came a man from across the sea from another town that was not too big and not too small, and he brought with him news, the terrible news that PEAK OIL  and CLIMATE CHANGE were actually related!!!
This was really scary, especially since many didn’t really understand what PEAK OIL was. And of those that did some found it so scary that they pretended that neither monster really existed. A few though started to form small groups. There was a local food group, a transport group and a Heart & Soul group.
And these people started to wonder about those old monsters who had been around for a very long time, but who were still very scary. Could it be that
WAR who everyone was afraid of but whose action was far enough away from the town that was not too big and not too small to be ignored for most of the time, though every so often terrible stories were heard about deaths and cruel deeds
POVERTY   who had been around for so long nobody could remember how she had been born and who everyone avoided as she made them feel a very uncomfortable thing called guilt and anyway its effects in the town that was not too big and no too small were not as strong as they were in far away countries which usually made everyone feel much better about their own life
POLLUTION who was a younger monster but nonetheless had been around for as long as anyone alive could remember. His presence locally could be seen by the trail he left of waste and debris but it had become so familiar that most people could step over it in the street without getting too frightened – though they all knew he caused terrible damage elsewhere – covering seabirds in his dreadful slimy oily blood, and choking the air of some towns and cities with his noxious breath
were related to the twin monsters of PEAK OIL and CLIMATE CHANGE!?
This frightened the people a lot but still life went on pretty much as it ever had in the town that was not too big and not too small…after all they had jobs, and schools for their children, food in the shops, transport, and energy to heat their homes…until one day
The story of a new monster was heard, the scariest monster yet – the effects of this monster were heard of from far away countries, from towns and cities nearer by, and then horror of horrors – the terribly scary monster
Came to the town that was not too small and not too big! And his effects were soon felt – for the factory closed down, and jobs were lost, and people had no money, then shops started to close down, and then the historic Woolworths – a shop that had been around as far back as living memory could tell, closed down.
And the people were really frightened. And it was soon discovered that the terrifying
who could go everywhere, was child of the other terrible monsters – they were all one big horrible family of giants, and the only way to tackle him was to tackle all of the monsters together. And all this while the groups of local food and transport heart & soul and energy kept working and getting bigger, and they developed a local food guide, planted nut trees, founded a local reused cooking oil fuel company that ran the new rickshaw transport, and made their own local currency.
And the people started to skill share, and exchange skills for free, and they noticed that the more they shared, the happier they felt, and meanwhile a heroic plan was being developed….
For to tackle many monsters you need many heroes… and all this while as the people  taught each other to sew, to build straw bale houses, to mend their bicycles, and to bake bread, the plan was growing…
“What was it, what was it?” asked the Rememberers excitedly.
“Aha, it was the EDAP”
“What was that, what was that?”
“Ah, now that was a night to remember” said the Elder with a twinkle in her eye
“what was, what was?” asked the children on the edge of their cushions
“Ah what a good night that was, the night they launched the EDAP”
“what did they do , what did they do?”
“Well, that was a long story in the making, too long for tonight, but I can tell you one thing they did…
They wrote a very, very, very, very long and complicated paper called a Funding Bid”
“Was it a story?” asked the rememberers  eagerly
“No, children not a story, at least not in the way we know them today – remember that people back then thought that Facts and Figures were Gods – so they collected a big long list of Facts and Figures and presented them to the Government”
“What was the Government?”
“Ah well, back then you see people didn’t understand that when we all do the work we are born to do there is no need for anyone to lead us, and they had a special group that made all the decisions….”
“For the town?”
“No, for the country…”

“The country! But, but, how could they know each and every person’s special gift, their terrible challenge, and what the local environment needed each day…”
“Well, the short answer is that they didn’t
And because of it they made a lot of mistakes
But the people of the town that was not too big and not too small worked hard and produced all the right Facts and Figures and the Government gave them a lot of money”
“Why did the Government have money?”
“Ah well, you see, they thought that was the easiest way to manage it, to stop people from being too greedy and taking too much”
“And did it work?”
“No, child, sadly it didn’t, for having too much of anything as we all know on feast days, makes us sick
So the Government had a lot of money and to get a share you had to give them many Facts and Figures in return and the people of the town that was not too big and not too small worked hard and gave them what they asked and with the money they started to make changes in their town
And do you know what the first thing they did was…
Why they put solar panels on the roof on this very building – the place where the EDAP story was first told….”
©Steph Bradley

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The Great Turning: poem by Christine Fry

Posted on June 13th, 2012 by Marion

You’ve asked me to tell you of the Great Turning

Of how we saved the world from disaster.
The answer is both simple and complex.
We turned.

For hundreds of years we had turned away as life on earth grew more precarious
We turned away from the homeless men on the streets, the stench from the river,
The children orphaned in Iraq, the mothers dying of AIDS in Africa

We turned away because that was what we had been taught.
To turn away, from our pain, from the hurt in another’s eyes,
From the drunken father, from the friend betrayed.

Always we were told, in actions louder than words, to turn away, turn away.
And so we became a lonely people caught up in a world
Moving too quickly, too mindlessly toward its own demise.

Until it seemed as if there was no safe space to turn.
No place, inside or out, that did not remind us of fear or terror, despair and loss, anger and grief.

Yet, on one of those days, someone did turn.

Turned to face the pain.
Turned to face the stranger.
Turned to look at the smouldering world and the hatred seething in too many eyes.
Turned to face himself, herself.
And then another turned.
 And another. And another.
And as they wept, they took each other’s hands.
Until whole groups of people were turning.
Young and old, gay and straight.
People of all colours, all nations, all religions.
Turning not only to the pain and hurt but to beauty, gratitude and love.
Turning to one another with forgiveness and a longing for peace in their hearts.

At first, the turning made people dizzy, even silly.
There were people standing to the side, gawking, criticizing, trying to knock the turners down.
But the people turning kept getting up, kept helping one another to their feet.
Their laughter and kindness brought others into the turning circle
Until even the nay-sayers began to smile and sway.

As the people turned, they began to spin
Reweaving the web of life, mending the shocking tears,
Knitting it back together with the colours of the earth,
Sewing on tiny mirrors so the beauty of each person, each creature, each plant, each life
Might be seen and respected.

And as the people turned, as they spun like the earth through the universe,
The web wrapped around them like a soft baby blanket
Making it clear all were loved, nothing separate.

As this love reached into every crack and crevice, the people began to wake and wonder,
To breathe and give thanks,
To celebrate together.
And so the world was saved, but only as long as you, too, sweet one, remember to turn.

Christine Fry (October 19, 2004). 

Thanks to Joanna Macy, American Buddhist activist and a beloved teacher, for this phrase.

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