Paul Costello's understanding of story came first from his study of sacred texts and his encounter with fellow Australian, Michael White and Michael's school of narrative therapy. Paul is the founder and director of Storywise.com and the Center For Narrative Studies. Since 1995 he has been researching new ways to unleash the power of story and apply it to some of the most challenging issues of our time that focus on people at war often due to ethnic differences, He has supported the peace process in Northern Ireland-Ireland and tackling the Israel-Palestine conflict. Paul lives and works in Washington DC and has written a narrative guide to elections called the Presidential Plot. He currently directs a local AmeriCorps program called Project CHANGE that supports struggling students in the local school system.
In all his work, Paul is both a teacher and a student, insatiably curious to learn and unlearn what stories can and cannot do. His most recent interest has been to understand story less as performance and more as a principle of design that underpins memory and is the map for meaning-making. He is writing and teaching more and more about the principles of narrative design (POND) and inviting people into a whole new way of thinking about stories as the power for change that is never more needed in our world.
In this first of a five-part interview, Paul shares how his early work with Catholic and Protestant students from Northern Ireland and Ireland led to profound insights in how to work with the power of story to create transformative change.
In this second of a five-part interview, Paul discusses how it’s not enough to just change the story. We must be prepared to act on the world to create space for a new story to emerge.
In this third of a five-part interview, Paul discusses what he terms Story Maps and how he has learned to use deliberate story design in every endeavor to ensure greater success.
In this fourth of a five-part interview, Paul examines an essential component for change—story listening and how it’s not the story you listen to but rather the story you listen through.
In this last of a five-part interview, Paul discusses his fascination with presidential politics and the narratives that candidates weave to successfully get elected and govern.