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On the Poetry & Spirit of Systems Change

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Poetry Spirit

Each affects the other, and the other affects the next, and the world is full of stories, but the stories are all one.' - Mitch Albom, The Five People You Meet In Heaven.

This lecture is based on a two year effort and forthcoming book to uncover the invisible, mystical and durable forces behind what sparks and sustains today’s social movements and moments of great reckoning. Together, we will explore how societal change happens in the hearts and minds of people - the slow, as well as sudden, nature of it - and how radical change feels ‘on the inside’ at a time of great reckoning and unrest in the world today.

This is an effort to re-humanise our political and social discourse. Stories and ideas will unravel about how change happens at an individual and systemic level - not in the form of models, theories or frameworks - but as waves, as a spirit, as a force that both creates and is created, by us - the people.

Through a lecture and group discussion, Josiane fuses storytelling, imagery and poetry, as well as academic research and scientific debate on topics ranging from protest movements, activist networks and social innovation to systems change, personal identity, hope and faith.

If you are looking for meaning in your work, or to find re-enchantment in the world, then this lecture is most definitely for you.

Josiane Smith works at the intersection of social change and human story. A published poet and writer, Josiane writes regularly for British and international press on the role of art and spirituality in social change, and is working on her first book about the 'zeitgeist'.

Co-editor of Magma 89, an international poetry press and publication, and incoming Convener of the Quaker Arts Network, her work has appeared in arts exhibitions and publications in Cape Town, Amman, Beirut, Melbourne and New York, and on stages in established venues across the UK.

Josiane works full-time as the Global Programme Lead for Philanthropy at the Social Innovation Exchange (SIX) and is an Associate Lecturer in Social Innovation at the University of Bristol. She is a systems thinker, weaver, former fellow of the RSA and a fellow of Newspeak House, the London College of Political Technologists.

In her spare time, she dances.

Part of our 2024 festival strand


How can we reimagine our citizenship and our democracy?