We need a thousand climate fiction stories not just a few blockbusters.
That was my claim in a previous post, and it’s a great idea. If we could generate a thousand different manuscripts from hundreds of different writers, we might shape our global culture into one that can rescue us and our planetary home. Wouldn’t that be the perfect goal for the Climate Story Garden?
I can imagine the hype you could build around that number. 1,000 stories seem impossible, but that figure captures the imagination like it's rocketing to Mars. And in this age of hype, of viral videos and social media influencers with millions of followers, isn’t that the secret to success these days?
I’m not so sure. What does success even mean for the Climate Story Garden? And how do you get there? Hype seems out of sync for a project that’s building a community of writers and readers who care about the future. And do we really need 1,000 stories to make a difference?
I’ve been thinking over these questions this past week after my car wouldn’t start. I sat in the cell phone lot of an airport as the sun was sinking, miles from home. The sunset was hazy from the build-up of wildfire smoke in the mountains. Jet engines blasted out emissions and obnoxious levels of noise as planes taxied past. It was a bleak setting to be marooned in. I couldn’t even lock my car doors, and I felt vulnerable. Hoping it was the starter battery, I called roadside service, but it would take a while for them to get to me, so I stared at the planes by the terminal and tried to fend off worries that my 17-year-old car had finally died.
I love this car. It’s a hybrid, and though I long to have an electric car, I don’t live in a place where I can plug one in. Besides, I want to keep this car going as long as I can. That’s me—a believer in making things last.
Thankfully, my distress didn’t last. The service driver jumped the car, I got it home, and the next day I searched for a shop to replace the worn-out battery. I found a good one, maybe not the cheapest one, but they didn’t look down on my old, dented car that needed a good wash and a thorough vacuum.
They had a calm, relaxed, authentic attitude that made me feel like I was spending money in the right place. They weren’t bothered by the discount coupon I offered them, and they didn’t try to oversell me on anything I didn’t need. I’ll go back to that place.
That attitude impressed me so much, it informed my thinking about how to set my goals for the Climate Story Garden. I want the Garden to be a place members come back to because it’s an authentic space, one that doesn’t define success in terms of money and profit, but in terms of good things happening. That’s the goal, or perhaps I should call it the intention, that should underpin my efforts.
To work toward a better future, we need to reach deeply for our good intent to help keep us on course. My vision may be grand, but I know all my steps will be very human ones, and wrong turns on the steep climb will be inevitable. As with everything we do, it is always an inner journey as well as an outer one. That’s why setting my intent creates a good foundation right from the beginning.
So, let me do that now, clearly, specifically:
What good things can I make happen in the garden? The potential is huge, the hurdles tremendous, but I can start by focusing, not on the volume of a thousand stories, but the quality of every single one. What if only one great story comes from this? Or two? Or three? The numbers don’t matter, but the honest heart, the open hand, does.