This article is from Edition 02: Storytellers
Sam Firman
Written by Sam Firman
Published on 12th July 2020
4 min read

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?


Danielle Sellwood - Journalist, Filmmaker and Co-Founder of FindItFilm, a production company telling stories of female athletes and adventurers, who joined us in conversation earlier this year

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.

Jeff Bowman - Creative Director of sustainable outdoor brand Millican, which had two films - Here and A Meaningful Journey: Connection - featured in our 2020 Film Festival

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.

Jessica Lee - Author, Environmental Historian and Founding Editor of The Willowherb Review

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.'

Jessica Lee

Jini Reddy - Journalist and Author (most recently of Wanderland) who we interviewed for June’s UK Edition

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.

Karen Parry  - CEO of The Creative Chilli, improving diversity across third sector and cultural organisations, and Host of the Swim Wild Podcast

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.

Kody Kohlman - Filmmaker whose trail running film, Par for the Course, we screened at our film festival this year 

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.

Laura Mahler -  Environmental Researcher and Documentary Filmmaker who has written for Adventure Uncovered before

Work for a world where we can ensure that everybody is safe, fed and happy enough to have leisure time, and offer equal educational opportunities. That’s got to be the starting point. 

Philippe Woodtli - Managing Director of WOOP Productions, Director of Silence: Born Severely Deaf (an Official Selection at the 2020 Adventure Uncovered Film Festival)

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.