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Restorying the Earth

Restorying the Earth

By Alette Willis

The current environmental crises we are facing--including biodiversity loss, climate change--have their roots in the stories that dominate our societies, our communities and our identities. This fortnightly podcast explores working with story to bring about thriving futures for all life on Earth. The fabulous storytellers, storywriters, storyactivists and storyresearchers I speak with generously share their experience, wisdom and stories to help us collectively restory our relationship to this beautiful world.
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Music, Storytelling and Climate Justice with Emmanuela Yogolelo

Restorying the EarthOct 28, 2021

Shifting the Narrative: Exploring the Role of Arts Interventions in supporting communities in working across sectors to achieve place-based climate action

Shifting the Narrative: Exploring the Role of Arts Interventions in supporting communities in working across sectors to achieve place-based climate action

This is a cross-over episode with the Scottish Communities Climate Action Network's (SCCAN) podcast 1000 Better Stories.  This episode is hosted by SCCAN Storyweaver, Kaska Hempel, who interviews me about the Shifting the Narrative Project.

Shifting the Narrative is a research project I led at the University of Edinburgh from January 2022 until June 2022 engaging with over 50 storytellers who work with stories in relation to nature crises, nature connection, community and social change work, and environmental education.  In these six months we collected and synthesised the experiences and wisdom of this group of people to come up with some good practice recommendations for communicators more generally.

We found that dialogue is integral to traditional and performance storytelling and that most storytellers working in this area integrate some form of dialogue into their practice.  The research also highlighted that the flexibility of stories to interpretation is story's super-power, enabling listeners to meet story wherever they are.  Live performances create community at least for the duration of the event, while allowing diversity in interpretation.  These key findings challenge mainstream communication around nature crises, which emphasise reaching as many people as possible through broadcast forms of storytelling and ensuring clear messaging.

The University team consisted of myself (Alette Willis), Ramsey Affifi and Jule Hildmann in Education and Arno Verhoeven from the Edinburgh College of Art.

Our Community Partners:

Our research was funded by the British Academy, which funds research to inform policy.  Our research contributed to their Net-Zero Policy Programme

More about the research project can be found on my blog:

1000 Better Stories:

Oct 28, 202247:31
Our Sacred Home -- A Story from Megan Ward
Nov 11, 202128:44
Music, Storytelling and Climate Justice with Emmanuela Yogolelo

Music, Storytelling and Climate Justice with Emmanuela Yogolelo

We are on the eve of COP26 here in Scotland, and today I am joined by Emmanuela Yogolelo from Manchester who is going to talk to me about her work with story and climate justice.  Emmanuela is a well known singer and musician known for her voice, harmonies, unique melodies and now storytelling and interactive performances.  Her music draws on her cultural roots in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and she has been instrumental in co-developing 'Amani Creatives' in Manchester, which nourishes, celebrates and promotes African arts and culture and African artists in the city and beyond.

Emmanuela has been commissioned by HOME arts centre in Manchester and Community Arts North West to put together an interactive live performance which will debut this Friday, October 29th (2021).  In this piece she will explore climate justice activism through a range of art forms including music and storytelling.  Hello, Emmanuela and welcome to the Restorying the Earth Podcast.

Emmanuela would really like to hear from others working in the area of arts and climate justice.  She is open to feedback, collaborations and more.  Please get in touch with her through her website.

Emmanuela shares a teaser from her upcoming performance, Tales from the Congo Basin.  If you are in the Manchester area, you can catch this performance on Friday the 29th of October at HOME.  More information and tickets here:

Emmanuela's website, with videos and music recordings can be found here:

Amani Creatives

Oct 28, 202121:36
Sustainability, STEM Equals and Storytelling with Allison Galbraith

Sustainability, STEM Equals and Storytelling with Allison Galbraith

In this episode, I speak with my friend and colleague Allison Galbraith.  Allison and I co-wrote Dancing with Trees: Eco-Tales of the British Isles and she has recently launched her book Lanarkshire Folktales.  Allison is a storyteller, student of folklore, voice artist and author.  She has backgrounds as an actor and as a teacher of pupils with additional support needs.  She joined me from her cottage just outside of Lanark in Scotland to talk about how storytelling can help make STEM education more accessible and equitable.  Our conversation took us from her work on storytelling and climate change with local farmers through to a recent project at Culzean Castle where she worked with scientists to create original stories about the lithosphere, atmosphere, biosphere and hydrosphere.

The story Allison shared was 'The Fairies of Merlin's Crag' from her recent book, Lanarkshire Folk Tales (History Press, 2021), which you can find here:

More information on Allison Galbraith can be found here:

Culzean Castle: Dolphin House Outdoor Education Centre:

Dumfries House: STEM Education:

GROWL, Glasgow Region Outdoor & Woodland Learning | Outdoor and Woodland Learning (

The Children's Wood and North Kelvin Meadow - The Childrens Wood:

photo credit: Finlay Stevenson

Oct 16, 202139:32
Become Aware and Dare to Care, my conversation with Fran Stallings about responding to environmental crises through story

Become Aware and Dare to Care, my conversation with Fran Stallings about responding to environmental crises through story

How do stories help people become aware of and care about environmental issues?  How does storytelling support people in daring to take action?

In this episode, I speak to Fran Stallings in Oklahoma.  I met Fran through the Earth Up! Festival that she co-organised through the National Storytelling Network in April of 2021.  Earth Up! brought together storytellers from around the world who are passionate about using their craft to help reconnect people to the rest of the natural world and to bring about change in relation to sustainability.  Fran has had twin interests in stories and biology since she was quite a young person.  She trained in biology and taught it at university, before leaving academia to become a full-time storyteller and trainer of storytelling.  She has had a long, illustrious and international career in storytelling.  Currently, she brings together her scientific background and her storytelling experience in writing the Earth Teller Tales column, which is available on her blog and through Oklahoma City University's Environmentor.  And she hosts the Artists Standing Strong Together online Climate Conversations.  Join me in finding out more about Fran's work; her aware, care, dare approach to telling; stealth eco-telling and EarthUp! 2022.

Fran Stalling's website is:

EarthTeller Tales can be found here:

The Oklahoma City University Enviromentor page is here:

Watch this space at the National Storytelling Society for more information on EarthUp! 2022:

Artists Standing Strong Together Climate Conversations can be found on their Events page here:

With their resources page here:

photo credit: James McColloch

Sep 30, 202125:14
The Three E's of Storytelling and Ecology with Anthony Nanson

The Three E's of Storytelling and Ecology with Anthony Nanson

What does oral storytelling have to offer in relation to efforts to make a positive impact on our damaged ecosystems?

In this episode, I speak to storyteller, author, scholar and educator Anthony Nanson about his newly published book, Storytelling and Ecology: Empathy, Enchantment and Emergence in the Use of Oral Narratives. Anthony's passion for stories and nature informs all his creative work. He runs Awen Publications, a small press that publishes 'writing that is imaginative, boundary-pushing, eco-conscious, enchanting, and challenging of received wisdoms'. He was one of the editors of the important 2014 book Storytelling for a Greener World: Environment, Community and Story-based Learning. In our wide-ranging conversation, Anthony explains the importance of embodiment, the energy of performance and the role of enchantment in healing the rift between people and the rest of nature.

Storytelling and Ecology: Empathy, Enchantment and Emergence in the Use of Oral Narratives is published by Bloomsbury and can be ordered here:

For a limited time, listeners can purchase the book on Bloomsbury’s website using this 35% discount code: GLR TW7 (or, in the Americas, GLR TW7US).

To find out more about Anthony Nanson and his books, check out these links:

Storytelling for a Greener World has been re-issued as Storytelling for Nature Connection and can be ordered from Hawthorn Press:

The Society for Storytelling can be found here:

Sep 16, 202139:04
Connecting to the Land Through Traditional Tales with Lisa Schneidau

Connecting to the Land Through Traditional Tales with Lisa Schneidau

How can traditional tales re-connect us to the landscape in ways that heal the relationship between people and the rest of nature?  In this episode,  I talk to Lisa Schneidau, a Devonshire based ecologist and storyteller, about her journey with story, nature conservation and education.  Lisa is the author of two popular collections of traditional tales, Botanical Tales of Britain and Ireland and Woodland Tales of Britain and Ireland, both from History Press.  Lisa shares her experiences with and tips for working with traditional tales to connect people to place, to plants, to animals and to the issues that need tackling.

Lisa shares the story of 'The Apple Tree Man', which can be found in her book Botanical Folk Tales of Britain and Ireland (History Press, 2018).

Lisa's website can be found here:

Resources mentioned in the podcast can be found through these links:


Halsway Manor National Centre for Folk Arts:

Sep 02, 202133:46
A Kist in Thyme with Amanda Edmiston

A Kist in Thyme with Amanda Edmiston

This week, I share my conversation with Botanica Fabula's Amanda Edmiston.   Amanda is an herbalist, folklorist and storyteller here in Scotland.  She has a particular passion for reconnecting people to plants, to the land, to traditional knowledge and to each other.  While she has a number of fabulous projects on the go the focus of our chat is on an intergenerational project she led called a Kist in Thyme.

The Kist in Thyme pages are here: and here:

The story of Chase the Devil is told here on the 'Tales of the Taibhsear'  album (with musician Debbie Armour, Burd Ellen)  or on the podcast that accompanies Amanda's other project The Very Curious Herbal here:

There's also a wee piece Amanda made as part of the first strand of the project with the children's art and a story on Youtube here:

The Tobar an Dualchais archive is here:

The Scottish School of Herbal Medicine is no more, the co-founder still operates courses under the same name but they are no longer the same degree and masters level National Institute of Medical Herbalists accredited courses.  There is only the archive offering links to research and methods left here;

Glasgow's  Hidden Gardens are here:

Amanda's website and social media links are
Tweet: @HerbalStorytell

Instagram: Amanda.edmiston
Facebook: Amanda Edmiston, Botanica Fabula: herbal storyteller

Photo credit: John Ritchie

Aug 19, 202137:09
Story in Environmental Education with Kevin Strauss
Aug 05, 202130:20
Earth Stories and the Earth Charter with Catriona Blanke
Jul 22, 202132:32
Stories for a More Beautiful World with Jenni Cargill-Strong

Stories for a More Beautiful World with Jenni Cargill-Strong

In this episode, I talk to award-winning Australian storyteller and workshop facilitator , Jenni Cargill-Strong.  We had a fascinating conversation covering a range of topics from enchantivism, to working with different types of stories for social change, telling stories in a country dealing with the legacies of colonialism, storytelling and place...and of course trees.  Trees seem to pop in to almost all of these podcast episodes. We love trees. Throughout our conversation, Jenni outlines stories that point audiences towards 'The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible' (the title of a book by Charles Eisenstein).

Jenni's Websites

Jenni's website: with a list of storytelling resources

'Stories for a More Beautiful World' online workshop: (one starts July 19, 2021)

The story ‘Lily and the Fig Tree’ and ‘The Mulberry Tree’ are recorded on Jenni's album 'The Story Tree and other nature tales' which you can listen to and buy here:

Jenni's YouTube Channel:

Other Websites mentioned

Enchantivism and Dr Chalquist

Charles Eisenstein

Michael Meade retells the Native American story ‘Black Dog and Weaving Woman’ in his book 'Why the World Never Ends'; explains it to Russel Brandt here and shares it on his podcast here: ‘Living Myth’ Podcast: ‘Making the Earth’, Episode 172 (paywall)

Books mentioned

‘Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants’ by Robin  Wall Kimmerer. I’ve been told the audiobook read by Kimmerer is  fantastic as she has a great voice and hearing her read the text adds meaning to it.

Charles Eisenstein, ‘Climate: A New Story’ and 'The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible'

'Favourite Folktales from around the World' Yolen, Jane (Ed)

Jenni's story ‘The Mulberry Tree’ is in Susan Perrow's ‘Stories to Light the Night: A Grief and Loss Collection for Children, Families and Communities’

Jul 08, 202138:08
Festivals and Social Transformation, a Conversation with Dawne McFarlane
Jun 24, 202137:49
Karen Noon - Personal Storytelling and Permaculture Education
Jun 10, 202124:27
Climate Change Storytelling from Town to Legislature with Judith Black
May 27, 202130:02
Svend-Erik Engh on Folkehøjskole, Nordic Myths and Helping People to Find Their Voice
May 13, 202131:60
Truth and Story
May 02, 202117:24
Building Community with Storytelling with Sian Cornelius
Apr 22, 202131:03