The ground we stand on
It’s time to build a #NewNormal, to #BuildBackBetter.
These are extraordinary times.
Times that are asking us to hold and acknowledge a lot of grief, loss and confusion. Many respected elders are calling this a planetary initiation — and all initiations require a certain amount of shedding and loss before something more magnificent can rise from the ashes of our experience.
What we are each being initiated into is deeply personal, and it is far too soon to know exactly what will emerge on the “other side” of this experience.
But what is clear is that “we will not go back to normal” as Sonya Renee Taylor so beautifully put it. So where will we go? And what role can each of us play in dreaming this #NewNormal into being?
Here’s just a few ways you can help:
- Share these stories & images on social media with the hashtags #NewNormal and #BuildBackBetter. You’re welcome to modify and brand them any way you like.
- Share other examples, articles and images that illustrate each of the stories, and circulate them with the same hashtags
- Ask your followers to share them, engage with the beautiful questions, mash them up and reinterpret them
- Add them to your website, ask your influencer friends to share them
- Ask artists in your network to create new versions of these stories in their own mediums (many artists are facing hardship, so if you can, please pay them)
- Use these “stories beneath the story” when you are creating your own content, responding to a media enquiry, or planning your next project
Because every time we repeat a story, we make it stronger. Every time we show another example of the story in action, we reveal it to be true. Every time we share a story of success, we show that we can succeed. Stories shape the world’s perception of what’s right, what’s normal, and what’s possible: and right now we face a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to re-write many of the stories that have helped reinforce systems of oppression and injustice, and to use our imaginations to create a world filled with abundance, joy and cake — for all.
Advice on working with these stories
“In the past, moments of disruption like these have enabled our opponents to advance harmful agendas. This is an essential window for social change campaigners to not only defend rights for people and the planet but also drive quantum leaps forward. Every campaigner, grassroots group, and social change organisation needs to reassess its existing analyses, strategies, and tactics. In the midst of a public health crisis that leaves no systemic injustice behind, what was previously politically possible (or impossible) may now be the opposite. Social norms have shifted; people are more open to previously unimaginable ideas and possibilities as they experience unprecedented cooperation. And growing economic challenges pave the way for new solutions and alternatives.”
— MobLab Newsletter March 29, 2020
The Covid-19 pandemic has upended the world and the stories that shape it. For many years, we’ve encouraged activists to watch for the opening up of ‘Myth Gaps’ — the moments where stories that were previously accepted as rock solid explanations of our world collapse and leave a void of meaning. As ‘meaning-making’ creatures, we cannot stand a void, and so when these gaps open up, new stories will rush in to fill the space — and some will be very consciously rushed in. The stage is set for a new round of ‘story wars’: between the relative importance of economic growth and human life. Between selfishness and community. Between xenophobia & racism and the profound recognition of our interconnectedness. Between a vision of the human spirit as generous and cooperative and able to rise to any challenge versus the zombie apocalypse nightmare of self-interested islands.
Our challenge as culture hackers is to make sure that the new stories that fill those spaces are ones which will propel all of us forward together.
Right now, hundreds of millions of people are oversharing on social media like never before. Shaping the chaos into culture, and infecting the zeitgeist with every tweet, tik-tok, insta, and Facebook post they share. Through our social media channels, we can encourage our friends and followers to join us in creating a global, community-driven wave of kindness, generosity, creativity and hope in the name of the better future we want to build: a #ReturnToBetter rather than a #ReturntoNormal.
This is an opportunity for all of us — whether we are climate change activists, or working to stop plastic pollution, or struggling to stop the ecological destruction or over consumption or the human tragedies of inequality and discrimination, to replace a number of harmful dominant stories with better ones – to remake the myths that drive our economic choices and the culture we share.
It’s a moment to shift the deep cultural stories that make the disposable mindset possible, that make us believe our individual choices have no impact, that allow us to ignore systemic weaknesses and existential threats.
But most importantly, it’s a moment to remind ourselves of how deeply human beings care for our loved ones, and how effectively we can act in concert when they are threatened.
We need to reinforce that lesson, to bake it into our decisions about how we rebuild – to #BuildBackBetter to a #NewNormal. If every crisis is an opportunity, and every failure is a lesson, the world today is full of opportunities and lessons — opportunities and lessons that all of us working for a more beautiful future can seize right now.
The eight “skeleton key” stories we’ve sketched out at this website are stories that will aid all of our efforts to make the world better, stronger, more resilient – whether our cause is finding alternatives to plastic pollution, defending human rights, standing up for animal rights, challenging inequality, or ending climate change. They can be the foundations of a new relationship between humanity, our planet, and the creatures we share it with. They can be the guide stars to a future in which we all live kinder, safer, and more abundant lives.
Who is behind this initiative?
We are Dancing Fox, a ragtag collective of artists, activists and imagineers, founded by Tommy Crawford and Brian Fitzgerald, that specialises in beautiful disruption, and culture-hacking activism that invites people to be part of shaping a better world. You can find out more about the kind of mischief we get up to at our website, see what we are eating for breakfast on twitter, and check out pictures of us hugging kittens on instagram. This site was made possible by a grant from the Plastic Solutions Fund and the support of the #BreakFreeFromPlastic network. Big thanks to Latte Creative for their digital ninja-ry.