A New Story for Humanity: From South Africa to California

Authors: Dave Room, Green For All Academy Fellow Candidate Narrative is the lens through which we view our lives If we are going to successfully make the transition to a more healthy relationship with the natural world and each other, we are going to need a new story - a transformative narrative that provides an inspiring and viable alternative to the status quo. We share a collective story and going forward, people need to see their role in that shared story. As a Green For All Academy Fellow Candidate my term of service - The Collective Liberation Listening Tour - is to build the foundation for a crowdsourcing initiative that will ultimately map the shared narrative space. (Crowdsourcingis the act of outsourcing tasks to a community (acrowd) through an open call.) An open "narrative database" will enable communities across the world to see where our histories and visions are aligned and where they conflict. Understanding our interconnections creates new possibilities for cultural exchange, alliance building and collective action.

The Collective Liberation Listening Tour


The Collective Liberation Listening tour is just the first step. This cross-cultural exchange between South Africa and California will delve deeply into the world of narrative, providing the basis for designing tools for a narrative crowd sourcing. The tour is a series of experiential workshops on starting in Johannesburg, South Africa, traveling to Cape Town, Los Angeles, and ending in the Bay Area. Throughout the tour, we will listen to and film community stories. In the workshops, we will bring video messages from the other tour stops and engage local communities in conversations about where we are, how we got here and where we are going.

Why South Africa?

South Africa is a fascinating if imperfect model of a peaceful transition of power from a wealthy minority towards a more inclusive society. Movements throughout the world can learn from South Africa’s experience in forgiving their oppressors and enemies, integration of music into the movement, and the use of the liberation frame. At the same time, South Africa is grappling with extreme versions of some of the same problems we are dealing with in the United States—problems like racism, joblessness, public health crises, and environmental devastation. Meanwhile, California has fascinating if imperfect models of engaging diverse communities in ecological justice work and building community resilience to address some of its challenges. Prior to leaving for South Africa, I will deliver a video message to Nelson Mandela, respectfully requesting that he or his designate be the first person to answer a series of "open source" narrative questions. What better voice to help start this journey rooted in uplifting people’s stories for social change? Dave Room co-founded Bay Localize – a for-impact organization that helps Bay Area residents build equitable and resilient communities, and coordinates the Local Clean Energy Alliance. He leads TakeBack the Mic Bay Area, an initiative that inspires, supports, and provides a platform for communities to tell their own stories.

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