By: Isabel Nuesse
How do you bring people into the conversation about economic systems change? How do you make it relevant? Interesting? Or, as we called it at our event yesterday, “cool”?
Our hypothesis was that by creating metaphors about our economic system, we could hopefully open up the conversation to a wide range of audiences- inviting more people to think critically about our current economic system and empowering them to take action to change it.
During the 90-minute session, we crafted a few compelling metaphors for our economic system.
- Humanity is an organism. Right now we belong to this organism, but it’s sick. There is no solidarity, communication or support within the organism. And in order for it to move so we can flourish together, we need a new organism where every cell is cooperating with and sustaining each other.
- The economy is like a game with many players involved. However some players are running in sandals, or barefeet, while others are running in Nike’s. It’s not a level playing field for all – and therefore the odds are stacked against those that don’t have Nike running sneakers.
- It is typical for aliens to arrive on planets, ravage the resources of the planet and move onto the next one. We haven’t learned their technique. Instead, we ravage our planet, take all it’s resources, and still believe we can survive on it. We’re locked where we are. Unless you’re a mega-millionaire who can afford to leave the planet – and the damage behind.
- The economy is like glass that is made from sand. Each sand particle represents all lives (animal, human and ecological). You can use the glass that we have now, but it’s fragile and broken. The edges are sharp and people are getting hurt drinking from it. We need to re-shape the glass from the sand, and ensure that the glass will work properly for all lives. We need to make sure the glass is clear, and has smooth edges so everyone can sip from it. We need a glass that can be passed on for generations to come; one that is resilient.
It was beautiful to see the many different metaphors that came from each group- and the vast differences in each of them. One participant made a comment, however, that broad metaphors lack a stickiness that’s needed.
This shifted the conversation toward identifying what exactly is needed. Many agreed that a major obstacle to ensuring the Wellbeing Economy flourishes, is shifting the stuck thinking of “well that’s just how the world works.” Many people are attached to the ‘normal’ so much so, that they cannot possibly imagine an alternative way of being.
So how can we ensure that our metaphors inspire audiences to think bigger, whilst also disentangling them from the current narrative that is so pervasive?
One key element here is to make sure that our metaphors are contextualized locally. We don’t need to universalize our metaphors – but rather create targeted metaphors for specific locations – that speak directly to the audiences they’re intended to resonate with. This emphasizes the importance of the audience, most importantly those that don’t have the conscious space to think of these things as more pressing issues take priority, such as putting food on the table.
Next time we run this session, we hope to invite artists and other visual thinkers that can illustrate our verbal metaphors into pieces of art that can visually convey the messages. We hope you’ll stay tuned for the next session – as this last session was such a fantastic way for our network to co-create something together.
Lastly, at the end of the session, we asked the participants to share one of their key takeaways, you can read the list below.
- Metaphors can open up possibilities for individual engagement & action
- We haven’t asked what metaphors ‘ordinary people might use
- We need to break out of old toxic paradigms
- We need more events like this with many many artists to be in them!!! 🙂
- Community is important to create a healthy earth system
- It is hard to keep a metaphor inclusive
- The big interest in thinking about the economy
- The economy can be many things, depending on whom you ask
- The power of a metaphor is one thing, but to discuss metaphors in a group is even more inspiring than I thought…
- The economy surrounds us
- Some people are playing to play and some are playing to survive
- We had a very wide-ranging conversion which was quite free-wheeling and creative. That was a good reminder of the value of multiple viewpoints from all around the world.
- There’s so many different ways you can spin a metaphor- a great group helps with that!
- I’m thinking lots on how to get ourselves out of the spaceships and land and connect with the planet and the rest of humanity
- We have become aliens living in spaceships and need to land on earth and become human again
- The economy is a metaphor itself for the way all beings relate
- TO keep taking the metaphor economy to the next generation
- Cultural context matters! We’re often too biased.
- We are the economy