By Laura Markowitz, originally published by Transition Town Jericho
On October 14, the US Transition team hosted an inspiring online presentation, “Stories For a Changing World”. Moderating was Marissa Mommaerts and guest speaker was author and nonviolent activist, Rivera Sun. Of the 45 or so participants, I recognized a handful of fellow Vermont transitioners from Jericho, Charlotte and Manchester.
Marissa said US Transition organizers wanted to pose the question: How can we uplift the moment, in this great pause? Organizers she said, have been inspired by Transition Town co-founder Rob Hopkins’ book, From What Is to What If? released during the pandemic.
Rivera is a storyteller extraordinaire, and her talk was peppered with colorful anecdotes, capturing the many paradoxes of the moment we’re living in. She said we’re feeling both the breakdown and the breakthrough of the present moment: so many of us have been wondering, what will it be like if things fall apart?
Rivera suggested that this IS what it’s like, that we’re IN that moment! She said beneath the political babble of the day, ordinary people are showing up in extraordinary ways, choosing to shift from the potentially terrible to the divine.
At some point, we were given a few moments to think about our favorite stories. Rivera said perhaps these particular stories embody something we need in order to get through challenges. Favorite stories break down expectations, and nourish the heart. Rivera mentioned how story themes are often negative, or the other extreme, utopian; if so, how can we journey from one to the other?
We often make the leap into the journey because we think we can make things better, sacrificing comfort and familiarity for the unknown. She mentioned the universality of The Lord of the Rings saying the times we’re living in, in some ways surpass that story. There are many themes we can relate to, she said; for example, Sam picking up and carrying Frodo to complete their journey; we need each other to balance out our weaknesses.
The typical story we hear is that we’re too small to make a difference or that we should just party because we all die anyway, in the end. Rivera suggested instead, to let our love for the world be our motivation. We then face our demons and begin some epic adventure. She added that if we can tell this story, more people will want to come and join us.
Rivera said in the story of our present time, all bets are off as it’s one of the most momentous times in human history!
For me, the breakout session was especially meaningful, as we were invited to share personal ‘transition’ stories within small groups. In the twenty or so minutes of swapping stories, I felt a quick bond with the three other people.
US Transitioner Don Hall also presented, telling the story of US Transition, saying the pandemic has given the national group a time to reorganize and strengthen, with three overlapping phases: Positive Visioning, Movement Strategizing, and Stories to Action.