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Em/Power Love: Migrating Stories at the 2016 Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change









At the 2016 Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change, three young women joined forces to take elements from three very different stories that had been inspirational to them individually and create something completely new collectively. Their new story was called “Em/Power Love” and envisioned the main character (and author) of Eat Pray Love, Liz Gilbert, traveling to Brazil and falling in love with famed photographer Sebastiao Salgado. Together, Liz and Sebastiao travel Brazil documenting injustice until a mysterious comet appears and delivers an extraterrestrial named Em into their midst. This story element comes from the animated series Sailor Moon, and introduces a challenge to the lovers: Em warns them that an outer universal council is preparing to pass judgement on the Earth and that things will go poorly for the planet if they cannot prove that Earth is working to improve its social injustices, especially those concerning gender inequality. Liz and Sebastiao work together with Em who uses her magical powers to help them travel the globe documenting in photography examples of women fighting against injustice. This work proves to the outer universal council that Earth is moving in the right direction and therefore worth being saved.















The young authors behind “Em/Power Love” talking more about their story and their process. 



This example came from just one team amongst many, as 70 young people from all over the world convened at the annual Academy to learn about harnessing the power of media for social change and to reflect in particular on that year’s theme of migration and refugee issues. Our team from USC ran a series of workshops connected to a keynote address by Henry Jenkins that developed the idea of Civic Imagination. We asked participants to surface and explore stories from their own lives that had been inspiring for them and that they felt held seeds that could be inspiring to others in their communities. We then worked with the metaphor of story migrations to map each person’s story on an Atlas of the Civic Imagination, and then to work in teams to migrate elements from one story to another, around the world, creating whole new narrative mashups.


You can read more about the workshops that we ran here.

And you can read the write up and explore the rest of the Civic Imagination Atlas Prototype Website here:














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