Stories as intravenous sense-makers

Bangkok city gardeners at work in the Rama IX Park, the largest park in the city.

Writing a new book always comes with a combined feeling of excitement, trepidation and wonder. 

Wonder — because you never know where it is going to lead. 

Every book I’ve written (and I’ve written five now — three non-fiction, two of which were travel memoir, and two fiction) — have taken me in a new direction. 

And my current book project — about regenerative leadership and storytelling — is already doing just that. 

Claire is standing in Waterstones, Oxford. She is smiling as she opens up her book, 'The Pagoda Tree.
Claire in Waterstones, Oxford in 2017, opening a copy of her novel "The Pagoda Tree".
The cover of Claires first book, Last Seen in Lhasa. Next to it is a letter written by her publisher.
Hot off the press: the cover of Claire's first book, "Last Seen in Lhasa".

Are we telling the right stories for right now?

Writing a book is a bridge between where you are and where you want to go. It opens new vistas, connects you (ideally!) with new audiences. And connects me with new meaning. 

I’ve always written as a way to understand and figure stuff out. Stories help you do that. They fast-track you. 

When you communicate data as a story instead of just presenting stats and facts, you create a bridge for data to be understood by the more  emotional side of the brain.

Stories are our intravenous sense-makers. 

Of course they are. We are hard-wired for stories. They are our oldest ways to make meaning out of this complex thing we call life. 

But I reckon we really need to think long and hard about the stories we are telling ourselves right now about our future. About the planet. About our place on the planet. And we need to get on with it… 

From climate change to regeneration

A slide taken from a Regenerative Storytelling workshop. The Image shows the silhouette of a man walking his bicycle across a bridge at dusk.
Like stories - being regenerative takes you on a journey.

I’ve spent the past three years really looking into how the climate narrative is shaped. (Changing the predominant narrative has basically been my research/passion project/awake at 3:00 am focus… I was pretty busy during lockdown.) 

But where I’ve ended up, isn’t where I thought I would. It’s starting from a different premise — from regeneration. 

Currently the way we are positioning the climate narrative is from a place of deficit, of lack, of fear and of scarcity. How often do you hear phrases like “we are fighting the war against climate change” or “we need to mobilise on a war footing” or “it’s up to us to save the planet.” 

In contrast, being regenerative aims to unlock the potential within us to enrich life. Being regenerative is evolutionary… you get there by building capacity. And you do so through understanding and aligning your actions with the bigger living systems within which we all live (and rely on). 

Over time, that helps increase vitality and viability — and you add value to the whole system.

Being a regenerative leader starts small

Getting my head around all of this has taken time. But I remember one of those 3:00 am moments in the weird weeks of early 2020. (It seems like a lifetime ago now… when covid-19 was just making headlines.) 

I came across this great article by Katherine Long and Giles Hutchins – both regenerative pioneers. It resonated then, and still today: 

“Think of yourself as a ‘guerrilla gardener’ seeding new opportunities for regenerative thinking and practise even in small micro-environments. Learn the craft of regenerative leadership wherever the opportunity presents itself, at home, societally as well as at work.“ 

Regen planting: 5 things you can do

  1. Pay attention to where your mind goes when you hear negative news — especially around climate. 
  2. Notice what happens in your body. 
  3. See if you can flip the script. 
  4. Focus on the wonder around you instead. 
  5. Get in touch with your senses: the taste of coffee on your lips, breaking sunlight through clouds, your cat purring at your feet. 

Would love to know how you find ways to seed positive ideas. Share below.

A slide taken from a Regenerative Storytelling workshop. It is a quote from Per Espen Stoknes.
Author Per Espen Stoknes has great insight into addressing stuck climate narratives.

Hi, I’m Claire. Through my business Wordstruck we help companies bring their sustainability strategy to life. As the Founder of Regenerative Storytelling, we’re helping leaders do more for their people, their community and the planet. I publish regular content about storytelling, regenerative leadership and reframing how to address our rapidly heating world. To see more of my content, please sign up – and join the conversation by sharing a comment below.