How do we tell the story of wildlife conservation and sustainable development in the digital age? It’s a question with no right answers and thousands of paths to explore. We caught up with Masters Series Instructor Asher Jay who aims to lead students down those paths in August during her Conservation Campaigning course with Yellowstone Forever.
As Jay says, stories are the only way to navigate toward the heart of it all.
There are limited spots available for this 3-day course in Yellowstone National Park! Register now.
What is the importance of storytelling in conservation work?
Stories are how we identify with our own selves and the world external to us. Stories serve as efficient, emotionally intuitive packaging for hard information, and make it easier for us to effectively land data.
They help us relate sequentially, cohesively, empathically, it make us internalize the unknown at a familiar pace.
The compounding impact of compelling stories is that it has the power to change the narrative altogether. This is why I am always exploring ways to best communicate what actually needs to be said, to incite what truly needs to be done from a space of inspiration and love, instead of fear and loss.
Stories can be iterated through various media, from writing and reporting to sculpting and painting, but the reason why some content is better retained is because it was conveyed in a manner that feels second nature to the recipients or viewers.
What role does art play in the conservation movement?
True art, like nature, has no boundaries; it is self evident, intuitive, immediately assimilated and transformative. Art, like nature, is sensorial; it cannot be unseen, unfelt, unheard, or unknown. Once encountered, true art leaves you feeling touched by something grander and greater, it evokes contemplation, connection and a visceral reengagement with life, which is otherwise only experienced in nature for me.
Such art embodies the essence of creation itself, and can be a great vehicle to communicate the triumphs, struggles, solutions, and salvation of the conservation movement.
What inspired you to bring your work and experience to Yellowstone National Park?
President Ulysses S. Grant not only signed this National Park into existence for the United States, but he made this a beacon of hope, an actionable recourse for other nations to emulate when it came to the conservation of our wild commons.
To me it is the first great and influential solution we instituted toward advocating for our natural commons and wild national heritage for generations to come, not just within our borders but globally.
The park holds a special place in my heart, not just because on my first visit I bee-lined to Old Faithful, only to miss Grand Prismatic and spend the next eight hours between states looking for what was right before my eyes, but because I am deeply moved by its expansive beauty and active engagement of the public.
It offers a real opportunity for people from all walks of life to experience the grandeur of nature on their own terms.
Also have you all been to the Lamar Valley? I mean that there is what heaven on earth looks like, it is absolutely magical and breathtaking and richly deserves every effort made to protect it for our kids’ kids’ kids.
What do you want people to take away from this Masters Series Course?
Effective storytellers are porous, permeable, and willing to be authentically exposed to their own selves and the world around them.
I want the class to work to become both vessel and conduit for critical content that can illuminate, connect, catalyze and create a wilder, more abundant collective future.