Telling Your Stories

How can climate warriors, you good readers of Ignition, put this top-ten list into action? Like Rachel Carson, you need to tell your stories, craft your tricks. They must be sufficiently seductive and disorienting to enable your audience to live in the newly realigned universe you are suggesting. Tricksters in this age of climate crisis now have to conjure up a second act. Citizens and activists have to generate the next move, and the one after that, and the one after that, and none of these moves will be guaranteed to succeed, as if underwritten by the original conceptual change. The advice in this chapter, in this book, is simply that: advice for getting our stories right in hopes that some of them will change the world.

It's clear that to build a green future, we must change our politics. To begin, we must recognize a simple truth: politics is distinctively narrative. It's done with stories. Climate activists need to see that, because stories that have succeeded elsewhere—as literature or journalism or certainly as science—still have to jump a boundary to generate political change. It's not enough to say that climate scientists are predicting, say, a five degree Fahrenheit increase in global temperatures by 2100. We need to ask, How can we climate tricksters translate that prediction into stories that will bring about political change? In addition, we need more than one story, for let's recognize that only a rare few stories, like Carson's, carry conceptual breakthroughs. Many more stories are of a second order; they work out the practices, understandings, and other implications that follow the breakthroughs.

We need many stories, and better ones, too. And don't believe a storyteller who says her story "just came to her." That may be so, but it probably suddenly appeared after much effort to understand how stories work. It's the sort of work we know; it's like studying an ecosystem. Then, all of a sudden it seems, knowing what needs to be done. It's how the story goes.

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