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Date: 01/01/2014
  • Practices
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The Storytellers Convention

from chapter 9 of Coming Back to Life by Joanna Macy and Molly Brown; second edition, published 2014. Please acknowledge the source when you use any of these practices.


Time: 20-30 minutes


Our world view can shift when we stop telling ourselves why something can’t happen. By vividly envisioning a hoped-for future, we begin to believe that it is really possible. Enriching this vision with all our senses — imagining colors, shapes, sounds, smells, tastes, facial expressions, and the “feel” of this possible future — activates our creative and intuitive faculties. 

Research shows that people who approach a problem by imagining it has already been solved tend to be more creative and detailed in inventing possible solutions. This “imaginary hindsight” approach can apply to the next 24 hours or to the next century. The Storytellers Convention, created by Chris Johnstone and described in Active Hope, uses “imaginary hindsight” to support people’s visions and work for a life-sustaining future.



The guide invites people to imagine traveling through time to a hoped-for future hundreds of years from now. They imagine they are at a gathering of storyteller-historians at this time in the future. In pairs (or groups of three or four), they take turns sharing stories that they might have heard as children in this future time, stories about the Great Turning that started in the early 21st century when human society seemed on the path to collective suicide. “Though things didn’t look too promising at first, a widespread awakening occurred, and huge numbers of people rose to the challenge of creating the life-sustaining society familiar to the storytellers now.”

After sharing their stories, the group travels back to the present time, carrying with them a deepened sense of the mythic adventure we are all part of.

Contributor/Author: Chris Johnstone