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Series Archive

The Narrative Universe

Marsha Dunn with Matt Saiia's picture
Marsha Dunn with Matt Saiia
Tuesday, May 31, 2016
Final Reflections
Metaphors are rather bad-ass linguistic do-dads. At least that’s one way to distill a recurring theme in our conversations about The Narrative Universe. Matt put it in more precise philosophical terms: “Not only do metaphors shape language, as we’ve long known, but we are coming to see the ways they determine our thoughts and even our actions. In other words, metaphors are more than embellishment, more than just creative ways of explaining what already exists; metaphors structure our experience—and so enable or disable certain ways of being, thinking, imagining and acting.
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Marsha Dunn's picture
Marsha Dunn
Wednesday, May 4, 2016
Topical Reading
Stop #1: Philadelphia. Every year over a million people stand in front of this 2080 pound, cracked, silent bell – a bell that hasn’t rung since George Washington’s birthday in 1846. Some considered it less than melodic even then. Viewed objectively, it’s not a great bell. But, of course, as symbol, the Liberty Bell is among the greatest of bells, and it’s anything but silent. It has sounded out its message across the centuries, across this nation—and beyond.
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Marsha Dunn's picture
Marsha Dunn
Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Topical Listening
A few weeks ago I witnessed ten acts of bravery, experienced ten instances of human connection, shared ten inspiring moments. I was at my first live Moth Radio event. I was watching—listening—as everyday people took the stage, stood alone—save for a microphone and some nerve—and told their true, personal story to an audience of hundreds. On that evening I was reminded of why our earliest entertainment consisted of humans sitting around the campfire just telling stories.
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Marsha Dunn with Geoff Amidei's picture
Marsha Dunn with Geoff Amidei
Tuesday, April 5, 2016
Interview
There is much talk of stories and storytelling these days. Sometimes it sounds as if there’s nothing that stories can’t accomplish in an organizational context. But we know it’s not that simple. The age-old adage that “change is hard” remains, well, unchanged. So in this interview, we try to ask the hard questions about how narrative relates to transformative actions. And who better to ask than Geoff Amidei? Geoff draws on vast experience as performer-turned-facilitator and longtime speaker-coach. To elevate our game, we read Duke University Professor Frederick M. Mayer’s challenging and highly regarded book, Narrative Politics: Stories and Collective Action, in advance.
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Marsha Dunn's picture
Marsha Dunn
Tuesday, March 22, 2016
Interview
Dear World is a portrait project that unites people through pictures and stories. It began in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. At the time we thought maybe the last chapter in our city’s history had just been written. In those early years of recovery, we asked people to share love notes to the city of New Orleans. However, we asked them to share those notes by writing the message on their skin—and then we took their portrait.
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Mason Smith and Gordon Eby's picture
Mason Smith and Gordon Eby
Monday, March 7, 2016
Case Study
Collective Next recently designed and facilitated a two-day collaborative design session for UP Education Network, which we explore in the following case study. This is the fourth installment of our series The Narrative Universe. Enter the ProtagonistIn late fall of last year, 44 individuals representing the UP Academies of Boston, Dorchester, Holland, Kennedy, Leonard, and Oliver gathered in a downtown office. They sat intently watching videos of over a dozen of...
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Marsha Dunn with Dave Rutley and Renee Piazza's picture
Marsha Dunn with Dave Rutley and Renee Piazza
Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Read / Dialogue / Apply
Below is the third installment of our multi-part series entitled The Narrative Universe. In the coming weeks, we will explore how we humans construct our world—even our professional world—through stories, myths and narratives. Solution Designers Dave Rutley and Renee Piazza are champions of the role of storytelling in organizational change. I spoke with them about the power of narrative and the provocative claims in Jonathan Gottschall’s recent book, The...
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Marsha Dunn's picture
Marsha Dunn
Thursday, February 4, 2016
Interview
Below is the second installment of our multi-part series entitled The Narrative Universe. In the coming weeks, we will explore how we humans construct our world—even our professional world—through stories, myths and narratives. “This is your brain on…Leo Tolstoy, Charles Dickens and Jane Austen” - That’s one way to sum up the scholarship of Elaine Auyoung, professor of literature at the University of Minnesota. Another way is to say that she uses cognitive theory to...
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Marsha Dunn's picture
Marsha Dunn
Thursday, January 21, 2016
Think Piece
Virtual reality is nothing new. It’s as old as the hills, and almost as old as our opposable thumbs. Tens of thousands of years before the advent of Occulus Rift and Google Cardboard, we homo sapiens developed a capacity and predilection for entering into a state of reality that is distinct from and yet parallel to our everyday reality. Entrance into this state requires no technology, no chemical compounds, not even special brownies. The only thing you need: A story.
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The Aesthetics of Change

Marsha Dunn's picture
Marsha Dunn
Thursday, January 14, 2016
Final Reflections
Back in September, we opened this blog series on the Aesthetics of Change with an homage to David Bowie—for who better embodies the idea that something strange may change you? Of course, we had no idea that by the time we wrapped up the series, we would be saying goodbye to Bowie for good. He dedicated his 69 years to the aesthetics of change, and he still had more to give: the final track on his final album is, after all, entitled “I Can’t Give Everything Away.” We...
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