Welcome to Storywise

Three things I know about Stories

1.Stories matter!

They create power, incite insurrections, cause trauma, offer healing, feed despair, nourish hope. I am a warrior in the war of stories, mapping their lethal power so as to disarm and expose them, and to foster a new ethics of narrative accountability.

From 30+ years of work with new leaders from Northern Ireland/Ireland, South Africa, Israel/Palestine and USA, I know first hand the power of old stories of hatred and new stories of possibility. My family being Half Welsh, Half Irish and exported to Australia after famine, my culture’s imperative is to cherish the stories. Read On…


O What a Show!

The cliché being thrown around was that “democracy is messy” but that is hardly the word.  My kid’s room is messy. With some urging from me or his Mom, he will clean it up. There is a better metaphor. Congress is a train wreck. And the 118th Congress hasn’t even left the station. Read More…


Don’t mention the pandemic!

Fawlty Arts Towers - Don't Mention The War!" Poster by KrystinGloria9 | RedbubbleWhen I viewed the four day program, I was stunned to discover only one session focused on the pandemic. It was called “Rethinking Anxiety in Light of the Pandemic” and that was it. Of course, there were sessions on Trauma and so perhaps the pandemic was folded into that, but ‘Meeting the Moment’ without even naming the Moment seems odd. Is there a different moment we are meeting? These are therapists. Have they been on holidays these last two years? Read on 


On Turning 70

Elegant, Faux Gold Look Number, "Happy 70th Birthday!" (Black Background)" Greeting Card by aponx | RedbubbleSince 1998, basing myself in Washington DC,  I have worked internationally, having the rare chance to play some small role in bringing peace to the world through the Washington Ireland Program, the South Africa Washington International Program and New Story Leadership. From Belfast to Cape Town, from Ramallah to Jerusalem, from Dublin to Durban, my work using the power of stories has taken me to scenes of other great conflicts and to meet a generation of young people who are survivors, or one generation removed from the battlefield. I have ended up working with people like my parents, who endured and are enduring the crucible of war, or like me, those for whom the wound of war still leaves an indelible scar on living memory.

Read On….


Gaza Plays Peace at Ypres 2020-Calls for Truce in Ukraine


1914 Christmas Truce

….The German lilt of “Stille Nacht” was unmistakable to the Allied troops. They wondered if the Germans were planning some new trick. Was this a ploy to distract their exhausted defenses? Yet, the Christmas Carol was evoking that same deep longing for home. Both sides were missing their loved ones on this most sacred of nights. Almost without thinking, they started to sing along in English, and their ” Silent Night, Holy Night, All is calm, All is bright” blended with German voices, and seemed to sound a gentle benediction over the wounded earth…

…The Christmas Truce does not have to be an aberration. If it can happen at Christmas, it can happen at Easter or Passover too, those feast days where it is sacrilege to kill. Loai is from a Muslim culture and for him, April 3 has another special significance. It is the beginning of  Ramadan- a time the Koran says is for fasting from hatred and war and fear…

Read More


Tell us: how have you been affected by the situation in Ukraine? | Ukraine | The Guardian
I cannot weep for Ukraine alone

No-I cannot weep for the refugees of Mariopol and Sevastapol Alone,
I cannot cry for the lives lost or demand the invader atone,
Unless I can also weep for the 7 million refugees of Syria,
Who for 20 years have lived between hell and hysteria,

Read More


New York Daily News on Twitter: "UNITED HATES OF AMERICA — Radical right more frightening, organized and living among us https://t.co/oOfSYg4hyc NYPD's focus on terror shifts to local extremist groups https://t.co/1YgAYTXAa9 HereHow sad it is that HATE seems to unite the world more than LOVE.  A lazy NATO, a deeply divided Congress and a fracturing EU have finally found their super glue. All we are saying is… “Give war a chance,” and “Imagine there are no people.”   War is all we’ve known since 9-11.


Trauma becomes a pandemic

Getting Past your Past – Conquering Anxiety and Dealing with PTSD - YellowWellies.orgTo suggest that there can be mental and emotional scars on the psyche that are like the physical wounds on the body is a great act of imagination, even a great metaphor, but it seems that the metaphor has migrated as Susan Sontag was wont to point out, into a specific illness. Sontag wrote that cancer became a metaphor and we are asserting this is a metaphor that has became an illness, and this metaphor has metastasized.

From Gaza to Gallipoli- A missing piece of the ANZAC puzzle

Children of the Gaza War — Jones FilmsAs a young boy growing up in war torn Gaza,  you learn pretty quickly that life is precious and fragile. I am 28 now, and a graduate of Gaza University, a soccer player who played for Palestine and a coach, and I am excited to be beginning my graduate studies in Istanbul. But most Gazans of my generation never leave their childhood behind because, between the ages of 10 and 21, we had to survive three wars. Surviving meant coming to terms with death, making friends with our mortality. Read More


Irish Aunties and Funerals

My Dad was the proud son of Irish immigrants to Australia and so, growing up, we had our encounters with our maiden Irish Aunties, Great Aunties actually, Tessie and Lilly. I remember my sister Jenny and myself visiting them in darkened, stale smelling rooms in dilapidated Ipswich mansions, and being encouraged to perform. “Sing for your Auntie Tess.” “Play piano for your Auntie Lilly.” It struck terror in us so stark that it defined the darkness. Why were they always dressed in black? Someone had died, and that is how they remembered their role as mourners, to not smile for a year. Read More



We get so tied up in the Why or the How. We forget a far more important question- Where? We start with WHERE. Even that word “question” is loaded with the same insight because it contains a “Quest,” which wikipedia calls “a long or arduous search for something.” To ask a question is to be going somewhere. Read More 


“Thanksgiving for me is less about life’s gifts- less about a Hallmark card…..It is reminding ourselves of the fact that we are privileged enough to live long enough to know we are alive. “ Read More 


“If language no longer carries the public truth,
it no longer can build  the public trust.”


Our traditional repositories of stories are under fire. There is a lack of trust and belief in education, law, the church, Wall Street, police, government, big business, and the media. Without this trust and belief, the social fabric becomes threadbare. How can we rebuild trust? By deciding to tell better stories, and committing to creating new stories. New and more ennobling stories are needed, and they need to be created by those who understand how story does its work.


For over 20 years, Storywise has focused on narrative dynamics  and  sought to build a better understanding of how and why stories work. Using this understanding, we teach people to enact a narrative ethics that assumes everyone has a story, and every story needs to be heard,  and to build these practices into every negotiation, or mediation, or program of change.


Our core focus is helping everyone explore how story works and how to work stories. Through our seminars, we help participants decipher story codes, genres and patterns to discover emerging meanings. We teach how to seek out the ghosts of dead or forgotten stories in a culture. We examine how public stories are scripted and shape our perceptions and decisions in unconscious ways. Raising the level of our narrative consciousness enlarges the domain of choice for us as both citizens and consumers, because capitalism has become more and more the “manufacture and selling of stories.”


Storywise has always seen itself as a form of consumer protection. No story is innocent. When we buy harmful stories, we put our economy at risk, our earth in peril, and greatly reduce our  chances to live humanly harmonious lives. In war zones, stories are as much weapons as guns and bombs. As a citizen, we need to be vigilant, always asking “What story am I being sold now, and why do they want me to buy it?” As a wise man once said, ” Beware the breathless salesperson!”


It is no longer enough for people to learn how to read and write. They have to learn a new 21st century narrative literacy that empowers them to know when a story is nothing but manipulation, when a story invites them to conspire in their own self-diminshment, or when stories are mean and demeaning.

Knowing how to better read and interpret a story’s intentions allows us to choose, and to escape the thrall of  media hype, political demagoguery and headline news that assumes we cannot ever think for ourselves.