Re-Storying Our Future
November 17, 2015 Kosmos Community News

Citizens Peace Movement of Iraq | A Kosmos Interview with Kai Brand-Jacobsen


Kai Frithjof Brand-Jacobsen is regarded as one of the leading pioneers, innovators and practitioners in the field of peacebuilding in the world today. For nearly 20 years he has worked across all continents and many of the most challenging war zones and crisis situations in the world at the invitation of governments, international agencies, and communities affected by war.

“The situation across much of the Middle East and North Africa is that the policies and the actions being pursued by each of the parties in conflict are actually escalating, intensifying, and worsening the conflict. There is no government or state within the Middle East that is making any significant effort to address the conflicts. Almost all governments in the region are involved in supporting an arms race struggling within several of their neighboring countries, often as proxy wars in rivalries against one another. There is no country internationally that offers a responsible and appropriate approach to dealing with the conflicts. Again, the policies being pursued by governments such as those in the United States, Britain, France, and many other countries, are dramatically worsening and intensifying the killing and the violence on the ground. We are contributing to the very thing we claim to be working to overcome. In that context, when there are no governments near or far that are working to help, when the United Nations is not able to engage at the scale of the challenge faced, who then remains? And the answer, quite simply, is the people themselves.” – Kai Brand Jacobsen

Globalization and Terror

By Helena Norberg-Hodge, Local Futures

For people in the modern world, there may be nothing more difficult to comprehend than the group calling itself the Islamic State, or ISIL. The beheadings, rapes, (recent coordinated crimes of hatred in Paris and around the world, ed.), and other acts of cruelty seem beyond understanding, as does the wanton destruction of priceless ancient monuments. Perhaps most mystifying of all is the way ISIL has been able to recruit young men — and even some young women — from the industralized West, particularly Europe: the conventional wisdom is that the cure for ethnic and religious violence is “development,” education, and the opportunities provided by free markets. This seems not to be the case.

A Tale of Two Futures: Planetary Realism in the Time of Climate Change

Graphic: James Provost, two faces of the Roman God Janus

By Hannibal Rhoades, Gaia Foundation

Picture the scene: Two groups of doctors, one large, one small, gather in distinct but interlocking rooms, around the inescapable body of an ailing patient; Earth, our only home. At this stage their diagnosis appears clear and unified. They agree that the planet is suffering from anthropogenic climate change caused by dangerously excessive emissions of greenhouse gases into our shared atmosphere; that we must keep global warming to below 2C above pre-industrial levels; that we are running out of time.

So, why are they sat in different rooms? And why is the radical, unified action required not forthcoming? The answer lies in the differing solutions, or prescriptions, these two groups are offering up to prevent, mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change.

These solutions are radically opposed and based, fundamentally, on differing accounts of reality.

Indigenous Stories: Enduring Memories of Ancient Sea Rise

By John Upton via Climate Central

It’s almost unimaginable that people would transmit stories about things like islands that are currently underwater accurately across 400 generations.

The Australian National University led research, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, tracked prehistoric changes in sea levels. The study supported traditional Aboriginal stories about the oceans rising more than 100 meters (330 feet) during the past 20,000 years. How could such tales survive hundreds of generations without being written down?

“There are aspects of storytelling in Australia that involved kin-based responsibilities to tell the stories accurately,” Reid said. That rigor provided “cross-generational scaffolding” that “can keep a story true.”

Telling it Slant

As the debate around communicating the issue of climate science rages, and the imperative of alerting the world to the impact of our changing climate becomes even more urgent, Chris Rapley, Professor of Climate Science at UCL, reminds us, “The whole point about climate change is that it is not really about the science. It is about the sort of world we want to live in and what kind of future we want to create.”

Assessing the current political temperature and social climate, Weather Stations is an international project that places literature and storytelling at the heart of these conversations about climate change.

But how best to do this? How do writers look at climate change and write successfully about it? Author Jay Griffiths offers some advice.

Photo: Angelocesare

The Case for Restorative Narratives

By Mallary Jean Tenore

“In many ways, Restorative Narratives offer a more holistic and balanced approach to media coverage. We’re not saying, “don’t tell stories about tragedies, problems, and crimes.” We’re saying, “tell these stories, but don’t stop there.” The story doesn’t end when the last shot is fired or when the tornado leaves town; in many ways, it’s just beginning.”