for the emergence of a commons-based society
I am a fan of the narrative approach which starts with the understanding that our lives are shaped by the stories that we create about them.
On this platform, the commons is our preferred and new story co-authored by all of us us at a time when the world is stuck in multiple crises.
Creating stories is a collaborative process and sense making and meaning making happens in communication with others. We find out who we are and what makes sense to us in conversations and interactions with others.
If a problem or crisis keeps re-occurring it is most likely that this happens because we keep trying to do more of what doesnt work and thus get stuck. Wouldnt it therefore make sense to change the story into one that seeks out and strengthens those rare moments when the problem doesnt seem to control us and then connect all those rare moments to allow the new story to emerge? To do this effectively we need each other.
How can we ask questions about people's identities in ways that will make a difference? The narrative approach suggests that we explore the intentions, hopes, values and commitments that shape our actions rather than any internal states. Rather than focusing on internal qualities, strengths and resources, we seek to trace the history of these qualities, explore how they came to be meaningful to us, place them into story-lines and link them to our values, hopes and commitments.
Seeking out values, hopes and dreams that are guiding our actions, shows ways to trace the history of these, to link them to the hopes and dreams of other people, and to forecast what future actions can flow from these commitments.
Michael White calls this 'Intentional states of identity' and lists the following questions in ascending order, where each level encompasses the level below it and extends upon it in some way. We enquire into the intention that informs the action and it is this process that re-authoring follows.
First of all we express our intention and purposes that shape our particular actions. For example why do I join CommonsRising? What do I want to do with what I learn and experience?
Then I ask about the values and beliefs that are supporting my intentions and purposes? What is it that I value about this group? Why is it important to me to work with this group? How is the decision to join related to my beliefs and to what is important to me in my life?
What hopes and dreams do I associate with those values? What hopes and dreams do I hold for working with this group? What do I want other people and the group to know me as? What kind of world do I want to live in?
What principles of living are represented by my hopes and dreams? How do my hopes and dreams inform the way I live my life? What does this reflect about the ways of being in the world that are important to me? What qualities about being in this world are most important to me?
What are the commitments for which I make a stand in my life? How would I articulate my commitments that are actionable and embody who I really am?
Re-authoring and developing an alternative story to the one which made us stuck is liberating and empowering. If the newly co-authored story of the commons is linked to a sense of history and also to the stories of the lives of many groups and people it will open new spaces of connection and reconnection.
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