Today and Tomorrow

Our recent gathering Today and Tomorrow brought up many fascinating issues and questions. We would like to encourage further discussion and debate on the overall theme of the event: the role of storytelling and storytellers in today’s world.

This page will link you to various outputs and images from the gathering and you are invited to comment below on any of them – or to suggest new areas for consideration.

Click on the image below to link to photo-gallery of the event (photos can be downloaded)

The story we used a springboard for our inquiry was The Tomorrow Man

Once there was a man who was lost in the desert. He wandered for such a long time that he forgot where he came from. He was lost and without hope. He lay down and waited for death to take him. Just then, the figure of a woman emerged from the shimmering heat and took his hand. “Come with me,” she said. She helped him to his feet and they walked for some time until they came to a village where she took him into her house. “You can stay here with me.”

The woman nursed him back to health and soon he was well enough to help her with the household chores. One day she asked him to go to the market and bring back food for their evening meal. “Gladly but I have no money,” said the man. “We don’t use money,” she replied. “Choose what you want and when the stall holder asks, “Is it for today and only for today?” all you have you do is say, “Yes, it’s for today and only for today” and they will give it to you.”

So the man went to find the stalls in the village square. They were covered with fruit and bread, meat and cheese, milk and honey, sweets and pastries. He chose some dates, a loaf of bread and some goat’s cheese. Each time the stallholder asked him, “Is it for today and only for today?” When he said “Yes, it’s for today and only for today”, they put the goods into his basket and he took them home for supper.

Things went on like this for some time and he lived happily with the woman in her house. Then one day he went to the market and he saw strawberries!  He loved strawberries; his mouth watered at the sight of them. He had never seen them in the market before, perhaps they were in short supply. He asked the stallholder for some and then some more and still more until his basket was piled high. “Are they for today and only for today?” asked the stallholder.

“Yes, they are for today and only for today,” said the man, secretly relishing the prospect of strawberries today, tomorrow and the day after. When he got home, he put a bowl of them on the table for the evening meal and stored the rest in a cool place. 

The woman came in and sat down to have supper. “Thank you,” she said. “I love strawberries.”  “Then you’ll love this,” said the man.  He took the woman by the hand and showed her the strawberries he had stored.  There was a great heap of them, glistening red and juicy, far more than they could eat. “Look,” he said. “We’ll have some tomorrow and the day after too.”

The woman looked but said nothing; then she picked up a metal pot and spoon and went out into the street, banging them together as hard as she could. “There’s a tomorrow man in here,” she yelled. “He’s a tomorrow man!”  She shouted the words over and over until the whole village came running.  They drove the man out of the house, along the street and chased him out of the village, back into the desert from which he had come.

He wandered for such a long time that he forgot where he came from. He was lost and without hope. He lay down and waited for death to take him.

It provoked a fascinating discussion which we recorded graphically at the time in two ways. First the thoughts and ideas provoked by the story (click image to enlarge).

Second what it felt like to inhabit the desert and the village. To our surprise, we found the desert to be an enlivening and exciting environment (click image to enlarge)!

Later in the afternoon we worked in small groups to begin our inquiries into the relationship between the life-world and the system-world and the roles and responsibilities of organisational storytellers. We used a paper written by Geoff Mead as a staring point.  You can find it by clicking HERE.

After our ceilidh on Thursday evening we gathered on Friday morning for a workshop in which Nick Owen shared some of his practice using story in organisations. Then we had a two hour Open Space Technology session in which we focused on seven themes that had emerged thus far (click image to enlarge).

After lunch we worked in pairs, bringing together the fruits of our inquiry in terms of what we felt needed to be said to ourselves, to the storytelling community and to the wider world. We then posted these thoughts collaboratively using sticky hexagons (click image to enlarge).

You can download a transcription of these emerging findings by clicking Here