Four panelists at the 2023 South by Southwest conference
By Meghan Campbell and Lexi Popovich

Every person has a story. In fact, each of us finds ourself in the middle of our story. Take a deep breath. Find the center of your heart, or your center of gravity.

Where are you in your story?

This is what more than 300 people experienced at the beginning of Fetzer’s session at South by Southwest (SXSW), Inhabiting the Story of Our Future. (At max capacity one could call it a sold-out show.)

Fetzer’s March 16, 2023, session was a conversation facilitated by our vice president of world religions and spirituality, Bill Vendley. The SXSW conference is held every year in Austin, Texas, and this was Fetzer’s first time participating. SXSW includes conversation, art, mentorship, and creative problem-solving to help us see beyond what is currently possible. Many of this year’s conversations were about what we might do together to advance the social good.

The conversation Fetzer co-created with Doug Abrams, Pamela Ayo Yetunde, Gordon Wheeler, and Bill Vendley explored how our stories, both personal and collective, can help us to reimagine and repair our world to create a shared future.

We heard…
"We are storydwellers, we live in story, our very sense of our self, of our identity, is formed in our autobiographical memory, which of necessity is a story that we tell ourselves and that is also in conversation with the stories around us."
—Doug Abrams, Idea Architects

“The hyper-individualistic story is dead. All kinds of fields are coming together to tell us that we are not individualist beings. We are unique and creatively unique, but our basic ground is relational. We are embedded in and inhabit relationships, and relationships inhabit us."  
—Gordon Wheeler, Esalen Institute

“How do we go beyond civility, politeness, kindness, friendship, and to begin to imagine adopting each other? Can you imagine that I am adopting you? That we are adopting each other? That we are adopting us? This is kinship.” 
—Pamela Ayo Yetunde, Marabella Storycraft

We have many stories: personal, religious, national, and cultural. The vibrancy of these stories helps us to tell our collective human story, one that honors our diversity and yet nourishes our togetherness.

What does it look like to bring the sacredness of each of our stories to our larger human story? What does it look like to bring our inherent interconnectedness to our larger human story? When we re-tell our own story as sacred, when we re-tell our community stories as integral yet interwoven, we touch into a collective story of flourishing, a story of belonging to one another, to the earth, and to the Sacred.

In order to inhabit the story of a transformative future, we must first imagine it and tell it to ourselves. Listen to the SXSW panel and join us on our storytelling journey as we seek to lift up the narratives of science, faith communities, and the human family. 

Meghan Campbell, a program officer at the Fetzer Institute, helps manage its shared sacred story work. Lexi Popovich, digital media assistant, creates content that aids the Fetzer Institute's mission of helping build the spiritual foundation for a loving world.