This month we reached out to storytellers pushing adventure storytelling in interesting directions through mediums - some from the Adventure Uncovered community, and some whose work we’ve so far admired from afar - with a series of prompts.
Beyond the prompts themselves, we imposed no parameters. We have collected the responses to each prompt into crowdsourced articles. The fifth prompt, with responses collected here, was: How can we encourage new voices in adventure storytelling?
We need more diverse stories and storytellers for sure, but we also need societal change which is harder to achieve. That said I’m a firm believer in getting on and playing your part. For me that means doing more of what I am already doing, slowly growing my profile and building a financially secure business so that I can bring a diverse mix of great stories to as wide an audience as possible.
I think by speaking to people, learning from others, asking questions of ourselves: ‘what really matters right now?’ I’ve often found that if a story speaks to me, however big or small, it will resonate with someone else somewhere else. But you can’t give a voice to people if you’re not actively speaking to them and giving them a platform to talk. That’s how it starts.
I like to think that we are providing a platform not for new voices, but for voices that have—for a variety of reasons—not necessarily been listened to as much as they should have been. Because in our case, nature writers of colour have always been there doing the work, they just haven't necessarily had the same opportunities or attention. The biggest contribution we can make is to facilitate the work: paying writers and storytellers, mentoring those aspiring to enter the field, and platforming their work at every opportunity. It's also about who is doing the job on the editorial side, as this affects both commissioning and working cultures. It isn't enough to have a diversity scheme one month; these are long-term, permanent shifts in how we structure organisations. So basically: do the concrete work of supporting storytellers by paying them and creating a work environment that reflects and understands their experiences. Newcomers will want to join a field of work that is actively nurturing and supporting those within it.
'So basically: do the concrete work of supporting storytellers by paying them and creating a work environment that reflects and understands their experiences. Newcomers will want to join a field of work that is actively nurturing and supporting those within it.'
The media has a role to play in diversifying stories we hear: reaching out to and researching new voices, shining a light on them, commissioning them to write, and about the things that bring joy. And by media, I don’t just mean those who commission, but those who are personalities themselves, adventurers and explorers and environmentalists and writers and presenters with high profiles and a social media presence. They can do a great deal to raise others up. Sponsors have a part to play too. Also, we need to decolonise adventure storytelling – there are a multitude of perspectives and until very recently we’ve rarely heard anything other than the dominant, white male one. We need to challenge narratives about the world we live in, and the histories we are told. Narratives that empathise with locals rather than observe them, narratives that do more than turn a landscape into a backdrop for someone’s adventuring prowess. Narratives that focus on how it feels to adventure as a brown or a black woman, for example. It can be challenging and positive, there are so many stories that just never get told. But things are changing and I’m hopeful.
I’d say the easiest way is for people who have an existing platform to share stories to go out and invite a diverse group of people to speak. We might be worried that initially this could look like tokenism, but we have to show our intentions through our actions and by consistently giving voice to a diverse group of people, and making that an ongoing clear intention.
This is a tough one because the barrier to entry in adventure storytelling isn’t low. I try to be pretty active on social media and responsive to emails.
Advocate for your peers and let people enter this weird little world we live in. I also think looking at all of this in a less competitive way is important. Lift up people around you and give someone a shot.
Everybody has a story to tell.If you really want to dig deeper into the art of storytelling you have to master the craft. So many films are just boring. They all have the same thing in common… they lack the key elements of a good story.