Stronger than Superman: Power in our Stories

Superman

Power is the great and necessary evil in our fiction. Some characters pursue it single-mindedly (and chances are, even if they start out with the best intentions, it will corrupt them). Others will do anything to avoid power, only to have it thrust upon them. But in a time where so many people feel powerless in the real world, I’ve been thinking a lot about how power actually works – in life, and in our fiction. When we use the word “power,” it has several different meanings. In the broadest sense, I think power is a person or character’s ability …

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Escaping Dystopia: How Stories Matter in a Trump Presidency

I didn’t expect this. Election night changed so much for our work, our progressive movement, for all the issues that we care about. I spent the past week reeling, grieving, trying to process what happened and what Trump’s presidency will mean for me and people I care about. I wondered what I can do. I’m sure you went through a similar cycle. When Amanda and I talked last week, we had to ask each other: what does this mean for FutureShift? We’ve both put our hearts into this project, and we believe deeply in it, but at a moment when …

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The Inevitable Triumph of Queerness

In the wake of a horrific act of terrorism like the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, it’s difficult to find words to talk about the new normal in the world. We struggle to find the right words to comfort the families and communities who were targeted and devastated, to change the homophobic, racist rhetoric that fuels mass murder, and to create new policies to prevent future tragedies. In moments like this, I find myself turning to words that have already been written. To the stories we already know and the wisdom that waits within them.   And our …

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Stories Are Not Commodities

Scenery from British Columbia

For fiction writers and nonprofits alike, stories are at the core of our work. They’re in our DNA. The connection is obvious for speculative fiction: the genre is its stories. In the nonprofit sector, the value of storytelling has been so touted by marketing professionals in recent years that it’s gone beyond common knowledge and almost become cliché. But the importance of stories will never be cliché; we’ll always need to tell them. Real-world and fictional stories matter in different ways, and bring different strengths to social change work, but both are essential to us. We can’t achieve our work …

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We Can’t Be What We Can’t Imagine: Why Our Dystopian Obsession is Killing Our Future

We are obsessed with imagining how we can fail as a society.  This obsession is demonstrated most obviously in the massive commercial success of post-apocalyptic entertainment like The Hunger Games, Mad Max, and The Last Man on Earth. But dystopian thinking is increasingly dominating our political and social conversations about the future as well. This trend is dangerous because when our collective imaginations are transfixed only on how we can fail, how do we ever expect to succeed?    Recent years have seen a massive surge in popular books, movies, and television shows that take place in distant or not-so-distant …

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The Hundred-Year Plan for Nonprofits

Let’s think big for a moment. In movement and non-profit work, we’re always working to build a better future. But when was the last time you stopped to think about that future might actually look like? Try it now. What will the world look like a hundred years from now? What’s your hundred-year plan? As humans, long-term thinking is hard for. Evolution wired our brains to look for quick wins and prioritize short-term survival, because our distant ancestors might never reach the long-term if they didn’t, say, avoid the lion about to pounce on them. Just because we now have …

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