Mairi McFadyen, Storytelling Network Co-ordinator for Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland (TRACS), explores the power of stories, for individuals and communities, as she encourages us to get involved in the Scottish Storytelling Festival’s #DaretoDream campaign.
The theme of this year’s Scottish International Storytelling Festival is the Festival of Dreams. Reaching out to schools and communities across Scotland this Autumn, the local storytelling festival campaign #DareToDream invites all citizen artists to dream together of future possibilities. What are the stories that are yet to be told?
We are all storytellers
Stories are everywhere – in newspapers, books, on TV and the internet. Our everyday conversations are full of anecdotes and real life stories. Storytelling helps us connect – to each other, to our past, to our place, to our world – and together we are empowered by our connections. It is a deep truth that imagination is a human right: no matter how unwelcoming everyday reality may feel, no one can take away our capacity to dream a different world, exercising our personal and social imagination.
As Writer Arlene Golbard said:
Whether we know it or not, all of us are storytellers. Without the story that gives it shape, a human life is just one incident after another. We are born, we learn to speak and walk, a series of accidents and choices — our own or others’ — carry us from one circumstance to the next for the span of a life. But randomness doesn’t sustain us. It’s intrinsic to human nature to turn this jumble of incident into a meaningful narrative, a story that has themes, highlights, and direction. Whether we do it consciously or not, the way we shape our stories shapes our lives.
There are so many people whose personal stories of possibility haven’t been told. So many have internalised the idea that they have no say in shaping the future, so they resist dreaming. “Why should I waste my time? It’ll never happen.” This same dynamic applies to our collective challenge. The way we shape our collective stories shape our communities, our hopes, and even our fears. All of us together can expand what’s possible by telling, listening to and inventing new stories.
Arlene Golbard goes on to say:
Think about something we’ve all seen many times: two individuals describe similar experiences in remarkably different terms, yielding opposite meanings. One individual living with a dire medical diagnosis tells a story of suffering, but suffering that refocused her attention on her most meaningful relationships and pursuits, leading her to drop whatever seems trivial. Another with the same diagnosis can’t stop complaining about how unfair it is that she was singled out for punishment she didn’t deserve, lapsing into resignation and despair. One story makes life bearable, however short. The other makes it an unceasing punishment.
Everyone has a story, an autobiography: which story will you choose?
Dare to Dream
Through the local storytelling festival campaign #DareToDream, the Scottish International Storytelling Festival 2016 invites all citizen artists to dream together of future possibilities. What are the stories that are yet to be told?
#DareToDream is part-inspired by the#DareToImagine campaign in the US, sponsored by the people-powered U.S. Department of Arts and Culture.In October 2015, USDAC worked with dozens of partner organisations to create pop-up ‘Imagination Stations’ in public spaces nationwide, yielding a crowd-sourced vision of the future, inspiring art, policy and community action.
In these times, social imagination is a radical act, restoring personal and collective agency, shifting dominant narratives, and affirming that all of us make the future. When we have the audacity to dream in public, when we begin to unleash imagination and turn it into action, we can move the world.
— #DareToImagine, U.S. Department of Arts and Culture
Scotland’s #DareToDream takes place in communities across Scotland this Autumn. The invitation to dream is powerful, but with it comes responsibility. For some of us, our dreams might be ambitious and idealistic; for others they might be wee and small – the little things that make life worthwhile. Dreams are the raw material for transformation and change, but how do we realise our dreams and turn them into actions? How do we live with our dreams? How do we take responsibility for our dreams, individually and collectively? And where are our dreams happening already?
Donald Smith, Director of the Scottish International Storytelling Festival commented:
Imagination is the power to dream something different – for ourselves, our communities, our planet. That what this year’s Dreamfest is all about: daring to trust in our dreams and together make them real.
There are lots of different ways you can join in. You could create a story, song or some artwork inspired by your dreams. You could invite a local storyteller to visit your school or group. You could organise a local event to inspire others or host a story circle to activate the social imagination in your community. Whether a personal dream of yours, an aspiration for the future of your local school, neighbourhood, town or city, or a dream for the future of the world, we would love to hear from you.
We will have a #DareToDream day on Thursday 27th October. On this day, we will encourage every creative citizen in Scotland to share a dream for the future on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using the campaign hashtags #DareToDream, #CuirBrighRiBruadar and #DaurTaeDream. Our aim is to make Scotland’s collective imagination visible for the world to see.
The Scottish International Storytelling Festival has worked together with partner organisations to create some free downloadable resources and tools for you to use and there are lots of ideas for activities in our #DareToDream Toolkit. We are delighted to work with the Scottish Recovery Network (SRN) to inspire that first step towards transforming our personal and collective futures.
What stories would you tell to the world today, from the future of your dreams?
This article originally appeared on the Scottish Recovery Network’s Website