In the 1990s, Jean Brown developed a methodology for facilitating Creators of Peace Circles—guided conversations that brought women together to share their thoughts and life experiences around a series of conversational prompts. Many participants formed lifelong friendships through the Circles, and put into practice their own ideas for creating peace within their own circles of influence 'from the ground up.'
Fast forward three decades and Jean, with a Creators of Peace team, has created a guide for surviving and thriving in this newly turbulent age. The realities of climate change, species extinctions, ecosystem collapse, massive global inequities and now the COVID-19 pandemic, have made this a time of despair for many. The New Story guide seeks to change that, through encouraging critical and regenerative conversations that inspire us to move forward with hope.
Changing the stories we tell
The 40-page guide, titled Advocating for a New Story of Our Shared Humanity: A guide to conversation circles for trust and community building, is for both facilitators and participants, and for men as well as women. The guide sets out questions, quotes and prompts for a series of five facilitated conversations in which participants reflect on the narratives they have inherited, and considers ‘opportunities for a new story.’
The conversation series focuses on themes of:
- ‘Stories of our time and stories we long for’, in other words, current public and personal narratives, and how we may wish for these to be different;
- ‘Stories we live out of’, which may be personal inherited narratives;
- Sharing our personal stories;
- Becoming our own authors; and
- Advocating for a new story.
Creators of Peace International launched the guide in an online event on 14 March, with an international line-up of speakers, including former IofC President Omnia Marzouk and several people from the author team, including Isabella Stanley and Jean herself.
The launch publicity highlighted the intent of the guide to engaging individuals and groups in exploring the impact of damaging narratives of human hierarchies and hurting histories, highlighting that, 'only a Shared Humanity can create the new story that will allow us to work together to tackle the urgent needs of our age.'
Human beings fall easily into despair, and from the very beginning we invented stories that enabled us to place our lives in a larger setting, that revealed an underlying pattern, and gave us a sense that . . . life had meaning and value. . . .[Story] is is not about opting out of this world, but about enabling us to live more intensely within it.
— Karen Armstrong, author and founder of the Charter for Compassion