WEIGH IN: Mandela or Obama or Chavez?

Authors: Dave Room, Green For All Academy Candidate Last week, in downtown Oakland, twenty community leaders convened in an exploratory conversation on co-creating transformative narratives that speak to low income, people of color communities and provide inspiring and viable alternatives to the status quo. The dominant narrative (e.g., the American Dream, just work harder, more is better) programs low income people and communities of color to participate in a myopic, consumer culture that leaves them impoverished and ill-prepared for the coming ecological crises. This conversation was generative; the primary outcome was a set of ten questions about transformative narratives that still need to be answered:

  1. How do we work at the multiple levels in the narrative space?
  2. Do we need multiple narratives by theme?
  3. What is the progressive meta-narrative?
  4. How do we chip-off the dominant world view?
  5. What’s in it for me?
  6. Overcoming false dichotomy between individual vs. community/commons, local vs. global
  7. What are progressive meta-narratives to stay away from? Our own left assumptions that get in the way of mobilizing?
  8. How to use “it takes a village”?
  9. How do we flip the script?
  10. There are so many amazing messages; how do we narrow them down?

The group came up with the following elements of a transformative narrative:

  • "Buen Vivir" (living well not better) from the Cochabamba Protocol
  • The Rights of Mother Earth from the Cochabamba Protocol
  • Hope, outrage, and having a better time, diverse, beautiful "edutainment"
  • A new story of love as revolutionary; rethinking love and revolution
  • Connection - we are all connected
  • Universe Story - we are stardust
  • Messages that help people go deeper, honing for audience/questions
  • Inspiration
  • Healing as part of the movement
  • Include rage/name the opposition
  • Ordinary people band together to defeat greed, allied with Mother Earth
  • Creativity

The other outcomes were making the face to face connections and sharing about the relevant projects that we are working on. The working group is developing questions for world leaders and front line communities to elicit information useful for co-creating narratives. They will be open source so that anyone can gather narrative information in their community and ultimately post the results to an "open" narrative database. Which world leader should we approach first—Nelson Mandela or Brasil’s President Elect Dilma Rousseff or Bolivia’s President Evo Morales? Or another world leader? Please take one minute and weigh in on our two-question survey.

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