The Earth Stories Collection & the Project NEEDS

A Proposal to Turn Conscience into Action

By Grian Cutanda (October, 2022)

Over the past year, The Earth Stories Collection (TESC) has received a strong boost in Europe through its inclusion in the educational activities implemented through the NEEDS Project of the Earth Charter European Network.

The Earth Stories Collection is a global educational project closely linked to the Earth Charter. It arises from research developed at the University of Granada (Cutanda, 2016, 2019), under the methodological supervision by Dr. Jane Brown, from the University of Edinburgh, on the need for a change of worldview in our civilisation, in order to mitigate the serious consequences that climate change and the mass extinction of species are already announcing.

Through this attempt to transform the collective worldview of our societies, it was understood that the best means was the fundamental educational tool with which worldviews have always been transmitted in all cultures: the traditional story, i.e. myths, legends, fables and folktales. For this initial research, I read about 2,000 traditional stories from around the world and selected 336 through the criteria of stories that could illustrate a principle or a fragment of the Earth Charter, a global, multicultural document which is a faithful reflection of the complex systems, ecocentric and integrative worldview that we need to develop as humanity. Then, I carefully analyzed the content of 126 of them to conclude my doctoral research. Out of this emerged TESC project, which seeks to continue to respond to the need of collecting traditional stories from around the world, that are capable of illustrating the principles and values of the Earth Charter and ensure that these stories can be freely accessed.

TESC currently has 75 stories from 56 nations, 35 cultures and 18 spiritual or philosophical traditions, all of which can be downloaded freely from our website. These stories can be utilized by educators, storytellers or activists in their context of work to stimulate creativity and understanding about the worldview and values articulated in the Earth Charter. This collection of myths, legends and tales will soon be joined by 35 more stories from 34 countries, 20 cultures and 6 spiritual traditions, with the publication of a new volume ‒ the third in the Collection. With this, TESC will reach 110 traditional stories. Some of them are under public domain, but most of them required adaptation, given that they have copy rights. Hence the adaptation of most of them is required to ensure they have free access under the Creative Commons license.  The stories are accessible in three languages, English, Spanish and Portuguese, the latter having been recently added thanks to the extensive volunteer translation work done by Waverli Neuberger, Joana Parise and Cristina Moreno, Earth Charter International Advisors and close collaborators from Brazil.

This major multicultural educational project, in which the Earth Charter International Secretariat and the Scottish International Storytelling Festival (SISF) (one of the festivals of the prestigious Edinburgh Festival) are working in close collaboration, has been joined, also this year, by a new global project proposed by Donald Smith, founder and first director of the National Theatre of Scotland and director of the SISF. The idea proposed by Donald Smith is to create a global network of storytelling activists who are committed to spreading the Earth Stories and the principles of the Earth Charter around the world. Thus, this very year, 2022, this network was launched under the name of Earth Story Tellers (EST), which holds bimonthly online meetings in English and Spanish, and to which 50 people from 19 countries belong at the moment. This network aims to be a place of exchange of experiences with Earth Stories in any field of activity where formal, non-formal and informal educational work can be undertaken for the transformation of the collective worldview.

Grian Cutanda is a faculty member of the Earth Charter Center for Education for Sustainable Development. His online course: Worldviews and the Earth Charter” is offered in Spanish once per year between the months of July and August. His organization, The Avalon Project, is an Earth Charter Affiliate from Spain.