The Eighth Storyline: losing the plot; finding community.

There are those that say there are 7 basic plots or seven basic stories, apparently they are Orpheus, Achilles, Cinderella, Tristan and Isolde, Circe, Romeo and Juliet, and Faust. All other stories are adaptations of these.

Or if like most you haven’t read these, the following plot lines apply:

  1. Overcoming the Evil nemesis — defeating some force which threatens. e.g. James Bond.
  2. The Quest — typically a group set off in search of something and (usually) find it.e.g. Lord of the Rings.
  3. Journey and Return — main character leaves home heading out on a journey to some far away and very different place. Faces some challenges on the way and finally returns home more often than not having learned some valuable lessons. e.g. Wizard of Oz, Gullivers Travels, the Prodigal son, It’s a wonderful life.
  4. Comedy of errors — avoidable set of circumstances that prevent people suited to each other seeing the connection, journey through a serious of unfortunate events that seem fated to drive an even great wedge between them. But in the end they see each other’s gifts and the strength of their connection brings them together, forever, e.g. Bridget Jones Diary, Most romantic comedies, in fact I can’t think of an exception.

    Bridget Jones Diary

  5. Tragedy — The flaws, or fallibilities of the main character are shown up, be they greed, miserliness or whatever. but their flaws ensnare them and often become the reason for their undoing. E.g. Faust, Hamlet.
  6. Renewal/Rebirth — here the heroin is seduced into a compromised situation by a jealous rival and forced by sorcery of one kind or another into a period of suspended animation. e.g. Rapunzel.
  7. Rags to Riches — e.g. Cinderella, Maid in Manhattan.
    March4 blog_01


So what’s all this got to do with Asset Based Community Development? Well what if asset based stories provide an eighth plot line? The untold story. Where there is no one hero, no false dichotomy between good guys and bad guys, no zero sum game.

A plot line where the quest is to get to know your neighbours, where leadership and heroism is distributed not siloed in one person-where everyone contributes. Where comedy and tragedy are distinguished by time and distance, and each are understood through the lens of complex and dense social networks. Where the ‘happy ever after’ is a culture of community that we work on every day.

Cormac Russell

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  • Fantastic – I’m just working on just such a script for the Community Music project I’m hoping to develop!

    March 6, 2015 at 3:49 pm
  • nurturedevelopment

    Thanks for your comment, we would love to hear about the performance!
    I am personally very interested in the script, if you would care to share it.
    Best regards,

    March 6, 2015 at 3:55 pm
    • Thanks Cormac – I’ve been working on the this for the last couple of months – it will be time to film pretty soon – so that’s fantastic…just what I needed! It’s to introduce and explain ‘Community Sound’ – what I hope will be a therapeutic bi-monthly event where people share popular music that’s been important to them and we all sing (and/or play along) with simple percussion. But community-building is the heart of it.

      How do I send the script – via NATCAN perhaps?


      March 6, 2015 at 4:28 pm
  • nurturedevelopment

    Thanks a lot Harry,

    Here is my email, looking forward to knowing more about this:


    March 9, 2015 at 9:16 am
  • This narrative approach/philosophy mirrors one of my favorite scholar/historian/activists Howard Zinn with his : “A People’s History of the United States.” Sorry the reference is so American-centric. Same concept though, people/followers/movements make the story–not leaders/heroes/saviours. There is something of a bias going on. Why do you think that is?

    March 11, 2015 at 12:11 am
  • nurturedevelopment

    Many thanks for your comment Rex. I am a great fan of Zinn’s work.

    I think the hint is in the word ‘history’. Which regrettably I read to actually mean ‘his story’. Modern history is far too oriented towards a certain kind of male ego of a certain social class. It is all ego, no eco!

    It therefore courts competition in favour cooperation. Global in favor of local. Status in favour of connection.

    I know I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know! But good to share solidarity in standing in favour of richer narratives that avoid the trap of the single story

    The rest as the ‘man’ says is history;), but perhaps our efforts can be understood as a refusal to be trapped in a story that was written for us!

    Best wishes,


    March 11, 2015 at 10:44 am

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