Since September last year (2009) a handful of people including myself, started to dream about a mammoth project that will stretch across the entire Stellenbosch district during the Soccer World Cup. While many saw either dollar signs or red flags, we saw a great opportunity for transforming our communities by focussing on kids and young people.
What if we could use world cup fever (or fevah) as a Call to Adventure and community transformation?
The Keep Them Safe project was born.
Today I am thrilled to report that there are holiday programmes running in 13 communities across Stellenbosch targeting kids and young people. The programme is called ‘The Perfect Pitch’ , it will run for 4 weeks and is entirely managed by teams of people from the communities themselves. Today I begin telling our story.
The purpose of the story
From the start I was privileged to contribute my knowledge of story and mythic journeys to help design the entire project as a journey of growth and transformation for all involved.
The story structure of a mythic journey has as its main purpose the transformation of the hero, also called protagonist. The entire story is designed to fulfill this function and every character in the story play his or her role in such a way that the hero can grow. The only difference between the hero and anyone else in the story is transformation and everything and everyone else is there purely to contribute to this.
It follows therefore, that it may be possible to use the structure of story to design a journey of transformation for other people. If you understand how to design a story so that the hero transforms, you can use this knowledge to design events and programmes that would let the participants transform and grow. This is what we did for Keep Them Safe.
Using the 5 basic stages of the mythic journey as well as its sub components, we designed such a journey of growth. As you read about my process, keep in mind that the same principles will be true for any other programme or event you want to design.
The title of the story
Before getting to the first stages, we must first determine the title of the story. The title refers to the protagonist and the challenge of the journey. To keep titles short, one or the other usually valls away eventually, but to get to the final title, both elements need to be clarified. A good example is Sleeping Beauty i.e. the girl who needed to wake” or Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
Many stories only have the name of the protagonist e.g. Hanzel and Grettel , others only have the challenge e.g. Titanic. Of course stories have other titles too, but the most common titles are the ones referring to the protagonist and his challenge.
Early on we discovered that The Keep Them Safe project has two titles referring to two different protagonists and two different challenges. Since then I realised that this is true of most projects and it is essential to take the two (and sometimes three) stories apart.
For us the stories were:
Keep them Safe: The story of community leaders working together to keep their young people safe.
The Perfect Pitch: The story of young people creating a perfect pitch for their own lives and their communities.
Today is the first day that these two stories are in exactly the same stage i.e. The Journey itself. So with both stories now running on their own and gaining momentum, let me tell you how we got here, and why the two stories did not overlap until today…