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The Story Arks Institute

Stories for Our Future

About The Story Arks Institute

The Story Arks Institute is founded in 2008 with a strong sense of mission and a specific goal: to stimulate and facilitate the media, especially those media that work with drama and fiction entertainment, to become more proactively involved in the issues of climate change. Behind this primary focus on climate change, the Institute also addresses the larger global transformations that are taking place and the potential of stories to shape the public’s attitudes and motivations. The pervasive nature of the global media makes their impact on our future inevitable, perhaps decisive – for better or worse.

It is the mission of The Story Arks Institute to articulate the issues involved in storytelling and rhetoric in the mass media, to facilitate new story visions that will help humanity move toward a stable, just, and sustainable future, and to work with professionals to develop these new visions into new media products.

The Situation

The consensus of scientists is that unless very broad changes are made, and soon, in the way that mankind lives on the Earth and appropriates its resources, climate change will lead to a severe to catastrophic degradation, not only of the quality of human life and civilization, but of the biosphere as well. Speaking for this consensus of scientists, former U.S. Vice President Al Gore asserted in a 2008 speech to the U.S. Congress that the most important decisions need to be made in the next 10 years. There is now a growing momentum for change against the enormous inertia of the status quo, as well as entrenched interest groups. Important leadership is coming from the UN, from national and regional governments, from NGOs, and from the newsgathering and non-fiction media. This is all good.

A related but distinct aspect of the problem, however, is that the current transformational crisis is not primarily technological. Many of the technological solutions are at hand, and with appropriate investment and prioritizing could dramatically change our carbon-emissions landscape. The larger problem is that of collective will and solidarity. In this regard, documentary information is not, by itself, enough to penetrate to the heart of collective attitudes. In democratic societies, it is only the strong voice of the people’s will that may convince politicians to act decisively against industrial lobbies and for the greater good. That strong collective voice comes when the right information also touches people’s hearts, the seat of their motivations, and drives them to act.

As we all know, the work of moving the public to a new attitude is not a simple, straight highway. It is not about information; it is about story, the story people can believe in, trust, and take hope and courage from. Such new stories cannot be put together like advertising campaigns, which are designed for short-term gain. They must avoid ideology and brainwashing, and yet they must be effective. And they must find the middle way between provoking fear and alienation on one hand, and lethargic complacency on the other. This is a mission for an ethically responsible drama and fictional media.

The Mission: The 100 Months Media Project

The Story Arks Institute seeks to help forge this new media/storytelling culture through four domains of activity:

  • To articulate the unique opportunities and responsibilities that fall to the media in this time of profound transformation in ways consistent with scientific knowledge, ethical evaluation, and the intrinsic natures of the various media;
  • To facilitate pro-active engagement among media leaders, creative media talent, the scientific community, and experts in media business and funding;
  • To foster powerful new images, stories, and other media-appropriate concepts of a comprehensively sustainable future (natural and human ecology, energy, resources, quality of life, social justice, etc.) – and their successful development into finished media products that are brought to the public;
  • To advocate for changes and revisions in the institutional/legal/financial structures of the media industry so as to encourage and enhance the media’s leadership role in building a comprehensively sustainable future.

Specific activities of the 100 Months Media Project shall include:

  • Networking to media professionals, the scientific community, and allied social and political institutions (government/UN commissions, NGOs, corporations and foundations in the relevant sectors)
  • Hosting major conferences to inform, unite, energize, and focus into action participants from the above groups with the goal of fostering proactive engagement leading to concrete projects
  • Researching and developing new media projects/products through an outreach of seminars, consulting, and resource sharing
  • Advocating for changes in the media’s business models in order to prioritize the survival imperative that mankind faces.

This work is an education for everyone involved. The mass media comprise a major industry. While it is full of creative professionals, knowing how to address such an unprecedented situation as our present climate crisis is not evident. The Story Arks Institute is there to provide leadership and facilitation.

Growing the Institute

The Story Arks Institute provides expert services in group and conference leadership, creative concept and story development, individual and team creative process, and analytical dramaturgy. The Institute will both initiate programs and act as a hub for partner institutions such as production companies, funding bodies, film schools, and NGOs; creative professionals; and the community of engaged scientists and legislators. Networking and forging partnerships are central modes of growing and moving toward the Institute’s goals.

Coming online in the near future will be a blog space for you to send us your ideas, dreams, and suggestions. You will see the links to partner organizations expanding. In 2010 we hope to start hosting events: teach-ins, workshops, and conferences.

Like all non-profit NGOs, we rely on institutional and private funding for our operations. Please contact us at the button below for information about funding opportunities.