My tent is still drying in the veranda as I am writing this. This past weekend I got to take part in the event supported and funded by BOS+ (my favourite forest advocate organisation in Flanders) and CM (my favourite health insurance provider in Flanders). The concept of the weekend was to offer people different kinds […]
via Thoughts & ideas after BOS+Badweekend —

Changing the Stories We Live By #3: If Furniture Could Talk

In the past 6 months, I was working at a story that would become eventually my debut roman. It is funny how things turn out. I was actually working at another manuscript for 8 years (!), but then a golden opportunity came (read: I could use a part of a grant for a communication about circulair economy). So, my story about dryads is put on a hold and in April I used all my free evenings on writing “If Furniture Could Talk“. I wrote in my mother tongue, so the title is actually “Als Meubels Konden Spreken”. I am using a lot of my knowledge about eco-psychology and ecolinguistics in this story, because I wanted to write a story with impact. This article shares some ideas about the impact of stories on sustainable transitions, and my own learning and writing process.

A small fairytale about circular economy

Once upon a time… a beautiful planet with some finite supplies of raw materials and materials, where beautiful people live. They invented beautiful things. Unfortunately, they organised their economy in a linear way. This led to a major materials and energy crisis. Some of the brainiacs preached for a more circular economy, but the old linear ways were already so firmly anchored that not many beautiful people responded to their ideas. The collegeboys came up with scientific reports full of evidence. But no… yet the rest of the population didn’t want to change. That caused a lot of frustration among those brainiacs. Why is the transition so slow? Why is it not accepted by others? Why don’t people change so quickly?

Bold Branders

In Flanders (Belgium), there have been wonderful initiatives in the field of circular economy for years. But not all of them bear the label of circular economy – because that is still an abstract concept. Or yes, a lot of information has been written precisely for highly educated people, especially in the sustainability sector. Although… more and more you see economists at the workshops of Flanders Circular. Circular economy clashes with a glass ceiling, and according to Bold Branders, the collective of volunteers to who I belong, this is sometimes due to the communication and management of knowledge.

Why storytelling?

At Bold Branders we look at science, but we know that scientific texts and reports are not widely accepted by the general public. There is also a wealth of research that allows people to influence their choices more through emotions than reason.
This is why we are opting for the oldest form of knowledge management in which we evoke emotions: stories. For thousands of years, people have passed on knowledge, culture, norms and values from generation to generation on the basis of stories. Also recently, knowledge about sustainability and ecological and social problems has been disseminated worldwide, with perhaps Rachel Carson’s “Dead Spring” (Silent Spring) as the best known example. That’s why we, Bold Branders, decided to write a circular novel…. to live happily ever after.

rachel carson

A Gravestone for the Witch tree and church bells: a call for a new world

Today I went bicycling in my paternal grandparents’ region. Some time ago, an old friend from university, a linguist with a big passion for history, who is born in the same village as my grandfather, promised me to share his local knowledge and stories about trees, stones and other beings of this region.

Today we were both available and I was in Belgium. We could go for a reunion in a hot chocolate bar (we do have these bars in Belgium), but I reminded him to the promised bicycling tour. He liked the idea. I prepared the bicycle and met him in front of the 12th century church of Vorselaar. Autumn accompanied us at this tour of probably 50kms (more than I had anticipated, but I brought chocolate). I traveled through heathland and forests, listened to stories which are hundred years old, and all his explanations of local names (he is a linguist after all). A lovely surprise was the gravestone for a local tree called “heksenboom”, aka the witch tree, and the “Achtzalighedenboom, or Eight Beautitudes Tree.