Ecological fairytale

This is my work on storytelling for sustainability transformation.


The planetary crisis is, among other things, a crisis of imagination. In their book Climate Leviathan, A Political Theory of Our Planetary Future, Wainwright et al. (2018) describe how Adorno (1966) expressed a utopian hope for a potential re-convergence of history and nature. They emphasize that this means not simply calling our age the Anthropocene. Rather, it requires living radically differently than we do know.
However, research shows that information about climate change and sustainability does not connect with all worldviews and cultures in the same way (Norgaard, 2011). What is at stake here is not an issue of sovereignty; rather, it is about the dynamic construction of counter-sovereignty, which is best understood as an attempt to claim ‘the right to be responsible,’ individually and collectively: to have meaning, to have power, to understand oneself, one’s communities, and one’s histories as not only inseparable but also ineliminable from reciprocity and the land (Wainwright et al., 2018). Hence, we need to come up with alternatives to guns, walls, and finance as tools to address the problems that we face.

I would like to offer such an alternative way of inspiring sustainable transformation, one that appreciates differences in worldviews, cultures and priorities: I want to tell stories. I am inspired by Clarissa Pinkola Estés, who is an American writer and Jungian psychoanalyst with a doctorate in ethno-clinical psychology on the study of social and psychological patterns in cultural and tribal groups. Estés describes in her book Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of The Wild Woman Archetype (2008), how fairytales, myths, and stories give us insights that sharpen our view so that we can again see and follow the pathway that nature has left behind. Stories are medicine. They have such a power; they do not require us to do, be or pretend to do anything – we just have to listen.
After years of writing academic papers, I wanted to challenge myself to find a new way to transmit my message. Hence, I have written what I would like to call an ‘Ecological Fairytale’, in which I have integrated my thoughts about sustainable transformation. This fairytale is included in this paper as an appendix. With this approach, I am trying to bring two worlds together: the world of academic research and the world of storytelling. I hope that through sharing my analysis of this Ecological Fairytale, I can contribute to the creation of alternative tools to solve the planetary crisis. I want it to do justice to the broad variety of worldviews and cultures that exist in the world. I want to provide space for interpretation, introspection and inspiration. I also hope you will enjoy my story, because in the end, that is what stories are for!