Mark Ideson, the skip of the Canadian wheelchair curling team at the 2018 winter Paralympics talked about how watching skeleton athlete Jon Montgomery win during the Vancouver 2010 winter Olympics inspired him to pursue sport more seriously. The result, for an individual who thought that their sporting days were over has been multiple Olympic medals over his career. He saw hope in Montgomery’s performance and that empowered Ideson to change his own story.
As I participated in the Disruptive Storytelling: How to go beyond Hero, Victim, Villain webinar hosted by the North American Association of Environmental Education (NAAEE) and featuring a talk by Michael Margolis CEO of Get Storied I thought of this Olympic story. Ideson, facing a life changing helicopter accident that left him a quadriplegic, could have focused on the villain, he could have seen himself a victim, but instead he looked at Montgomery and saw the possibility of something great. This was Margolis’ message in the webinar, a hero relies on there being victims and villains and nobody really wants to see themselves in those roles.
This is an important message in so many fields, and it was one that came up in my PhD research. Tired of the images of despair that no one can really connect to I used a technique called participatory photography to engage outdoor educators in looking at climate change and their relationship to climate change within their own lives. While there were moments of frustration, and personal guilt and just overall feelings of why can’t we do better, there was also a focus on hope and opportunity. These are the feelings that everyone needs to have or be introduced to if we are to disrupt the current approaches that dominate, at least in the worlds I live in. As Anthony Weston (2007) argued, it is unlikely that anyone would have followed Martin Luther King Jr. if his iconic speech had started with “I have a nightmare…”
Through Margolis’ presentation today I learned about an area of research that explores our hormonal responses to different stories. I will be reading some of this research over the next while and plan to write some posts about it. But in the meantime check out the “All things positive” page from the blog about my PhD research. If you are interested here is the link to the full document.