One I Watch: Phoebe Tickell

Phoebe Tickell

Although Phoebe and I have at least three dozen friends in common, it’s only just recently that her name has come up–once, twice, three times in the last month. So I was like, ok, who is this woman? (Everyone is like– oh my god, how do you not yet know Phoebe?)

A few weeks back one of those friends-in-common sent me to the NARWHAL (Narratives Working Group Hopeful and Longterm) salons–wherein Phoebe has been convening narrative- and communications- people in different disciplines to talk New Story in the wake of the pandemic. I know a lot of narrative strategists and communications people– but Phoebe is the first scientist (she studied Biology at Cambridge University) -that I know of- to be so deeply engaged with narrative/ the New Story. Goddess knows we have long needed scientists (especially around climate) to better understand why data is not working and why stories do.

I was already plenty intrigued, and then Manda Scott of Accidental Gods (herself super interesting!) interviewed Phoebe and the conversation is SO. GOOD.

I was really interested in this humanity level narrative of what does it mean to be human? What is it about this age that is different? What is it about technology which is different? And what do we want? What does humanity want? Where are we going? And how can we actually become a self-authoring species that takes back that authorship.

I love how nuanced her thinking is–below, for example, on the usefulness of The Hero’s Journey, long our foundational staple:

phoebe's nuance on hero journey

Among the many projects Phoebe has underway, she’s exploring and developing a Moral Imagination (the term from her teacher, the great Joanna Macy). As Phoebe defines it:

The Moral Imagination is the combination of moral responsibility and developing a sense of moral responsibility and for life on earth, to stand for life on Earth and to take our place as activists in whatever form that that is. I use the word activist, but I know there’s a lot of baggage around that term. I really believe that all of us, whether we work as permaculture gardeners or bankers or politicians or teachers, can become activist-stewards, active agents and citizens of of life. Life being both nature, but also society and this fabric of life that we’re all part of.


Morals and doing the right thing have become really flat and boring. And sometimes it’s associated with guilt…I think we need a perception revolution around morals, being moral and doing the right thing…People just want to be able to imagine together, imagine different outcomes, imagine different ways of living life and different possibilities.








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