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The Center for Narrative Studies is about to begin its 20th year of work with a commitment to ramp up the activities of the Center to a whole new level. Stay tuned for our 2014 program offerings and a relaunch of CNS.

The pioneering work of Kathie Hepler, Harry Rieckelman and Paul Costello way back in the mid 1990's continues to grow and bear fruit through the energy of Madelyn Blair and other Golden Fleece graduates of CNS who have now become leaders in the field of narrative practice.

Back in 1995, we created our signature narrative processes known now as "Living Stories" and "Narrative Room." Every year, we have taught these programs to budding narrative practitioners around the world, and they continue to demonstrate their power to renew and change organizations.

Previously, our international commitments with the Irish peace program seriously limited the number of CNS offerings. But after ten years, and with the Northern Ireland Peace process secured and shifting increasingly into the hands of a new generation, including many alums, we have decided that 2014 is our time to get back to the work of Storywise. We are eager to share the lessons we have learned these past five years in taking CNS to the most conflicted area of the world- the Middle East. Creating New Story Leadership, has allowed us to develop the most innovative application of our methods.

Even in our own country, there is a new urgency for change.  People are hungry for ethical methods of renewal and in search of stories that can build a more sustainable future. Fifteen years  of work at the crossroads of war and peace in Northern Ireland and the Middle East have shown us that narrative method works to change a story, and to change the future. America might do with some of that right now, facing into an uncertain 2014. 

We believe our methods and approach are ready for a much wider audience. So we invite you to be part of the widening story of CNS and its work of helping more people  become storywise-"shaping the stories that shape us." If you are a graduate of our programs, we would love to hear from you. Catch us up on your story.



We want to pay a special tribute to the work of Michael White, a friend and mentor of CNS who died very tragically on April 4th 2009 in San Diego. I had the privilege of studying with Michael way back in 1990 and we remained friends ever since. Over the years, he was always interested in where CNS was taking so many of the narrative ideas that he pioneered.

He was always eager for an update on our Irish peace program.  In fact, he hosted some of our Irish alums in 2003 in Liverpool UK, inviting them to speak to an international conference of  therapists and social workers and offer a narrative seminar drawing from the lessons of the program.

I have been reading Michael's last and latest book, "Maps of Narrative Practice" and I hear that remarkable voice of compassion and creative intelligence as he shares some of the transcripts of his work with clients. I think regardless of the power of his method, the story of Michael White himself, is his greatest work. His inspiration and ability to engage us in becoming new listeners to our own story and challenging us to refuse to live inside a problem story are the lessons of life that I owe to Michael. Though he is no longer with us in the flesh, his spirit abides.

I remember in Toronto, after a seminar, Michael asking me for some ideas about spirituality because he was writing an article. It was thrilling to read the final product and have Michael so generously acknowledge that conversation. As he has taught us in his "giving back practices", I would invite any others who have not had a chance to acknowledge Michael to send us any stories to add to this testimony, so we can keep his stories alive as a living testament to his amazing life.

To all Michael's family and to all his colleagues at the Dulwich Center and around the world, we offer our deep sympathies and re-dedicate ourselves at CNS to continue to honor Michael by keeping his legacy alive through our work.

Paul Costello-Founding Director CNS

Washington DC