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Totnes Change Makers

Totnes is well known for being ‘alternative’, a term that has positive and negative connotations depending on your interpretation.

Either way, it’s certainly ‘different’ to most other UK towns, however near or far they may be from this pretty little pocket of South Devon.

While some Totnesians might live up to the stereotype, with ‘alternative’ ways of thinking and doing things, others are taking this one step further, by inspiring change at the heart of society.

It’s this emerging breed of change makers that are pioneering new approaches to how we live our lives, from the food we eat to the way our children are taught in schools.

For the April issue of Devon Life, Alex Green interviewed some of those making a positive difference to people and the planet. Find out more about them via the links below:

After reading the article, listen to the podcasts to hear more, created by Dave Clarke, from I am the how:

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More Totnes change makers/ New Generation Thinkers:

A surprising number of changemakers are based here in Totnes. They include nutritionist Anna Thompson of Nourishing Families who pitched her idea to the Local Economic Forum (LEF) at the same time as The Apricot Centre (see the article below). Anna is a contributor to Thoughtbox Education’s curriculum for Environmental Engagement (also referred to in the article), as do the owners of the first zero waste shop in the UK, Richard and Nicola Eckersley of Earth Food Love on Totnes High Street. Exploring the topic of Cultural Identities is Saif Ali of Integr8 UK, who is seeking to change the narrative around refugees in the UK, while Dinah Gibbons who established the first BodyKind Festival in Totnes, is working to empower people to feel more comfortable in the skin they’re living in. 
These leading lights, referred to as NGTs, New Generation Thinkers, are all involved in the Thoughtbox Changemakers group, which connects young people with inspiring changemakers around the world through its network of schools.

3 top storytelling tips for your website, blog and social media

We all love a good story. If it stirs our emotions so that we feel love, empathy, hate, anger or joy, they inspire us to take action in our own lives or to influence others. Whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, sci-fi or adventure, it has to be believable on some level for people to connect.

There are three key plot techniques that run through all forms of storytelling and can be applied to your own website, blog or social media. Just remember that the medium is the message, so your story has to be packaged up in a way that’s appropriate to the channel and your audience.

The following storytelling plots can help you tell your own story or someone else’s in a way that others can relate.

Tip 1 – The Challenge Plot

Everyone loves the underdog. This story format is as old as time as it speaks to our inner caveperson about the need to survive. It’s about triumph over adversity, or something big against something small. Think David and Goliath or George and the Dragon.

It can be as simple as overcoming the odds like the hare and the tortoise. This idea of triumph over adversity was the angle behind an article about Katz Cowley, the illustrator of the global success that is The Wonky Donkey. Read the article in Manor Magazine here:

Wonky rises above the fact that he’s a ‘stinky-dinky, winky, wonky donkey’, becoming the hero of his own story, which is lovingly brought to life by Katz’ illustrations. It’s been a triumph too for Katz to see her work being embraced by hearts and minds in her home country at last and being recognised as the co-creator of the book.

Tip 2 – The Connection Plot

This is when two characters meet from supposedly opposing sectors of society, who shouldn’t get on but surprisingly, find a connection. An iconic example is Disney’s Lady and the Tramp.

Romantic comedy relies on this plot technique time and again. In Love Actually, the prime minister (Hugh Grant) falls for his foul mouthed east-end secretary (Martine McCutcheon). They are two people from very different backgrounds yet they come together and actually fall in love.

When societal structures imposed on us such as race, class, affluence or gender differences are broken down and erased, we find we’re only human after all and there’s far more that unites us than sets us apart.

It could be an unlikely partnership or two opposing sides to an argument that finds common ground.

To tell this story, you first need to show how the two characters are very different and then show how they are in fact very similar.

Tip 3 – The Creativity Plot

Stories that show how a seemingly impossible situation can be overcome with a new way of doing things can make people reassess their beliefs.

In film, Mission Impossible or Da Vinci Code are examples of this concept taken to the extreme.

Life hacks are hugely popular and shareable on social media that show simple solutions to everyday problems. From Marie Kondo’s de-cluttering solutions to Jamie Oliver’s family meals for a fiver, they provide easy-to-follow guidance on how to improve our lives with their simple solutions.

If you’ve got something new that solves an everyday problem, you’ve got your story. Focus on the problem first and then show it can be solved with your product or service.

And finally…

Be mindful of the things that happen in your life that others will find interesting, inspiring and meaningful. By knowing these three plot types you can be on the lookout for these experiences and tell these stories.

Remember everyone has at least one story to tell. What’s yours?

TOP 3 TIPS – Storytelling

Workshop: Getting to grips with social media

Thursday 19th September 2019, 10am-1pm.

Who’s it for? Individuals and businesses already using social media to promote their enterprise but haven’t yet got to grips with how to use it effectively.

Social media needs to work for you and the more you enjoy it, the easier it becomes. This naturally leads to better content that’s well received and shared, paving the way for social media success.

What will it cover?

  • Why use social media?
  • How to tell a good story
  • Source and create great content
  • Managing social media – plan, monitor and engage.

Cost: £50. Booking is essential and places are limited.

Register your interest by sending an email to

Alex has worked in journalism, PR and social media for public and private companies, including not-for-profits and charities.

“I’m fascinated by people and places and the stories that bring them to life. Social Media is a great tool for sharing these stories and helping you connect with the individuals or groups that matter to you and your business.”

Testimonial: Kate Hewett, Volunteering Support Officer at South Hams Community & Voluntary Services (CVS):

“Alex is enthusiastic about the subject and able to provide practical advice as well as longer term vision. Our session with Alex made us feel like we understood social media better and that we could start making improvements in a manageable way.”

Travel Writing Success

A regular contributor to the Western Morning News, Alex Green has scooped a national award for her travel feature on exploring the Basque Country en famille, which appeared in the Saturday supplement ‘WestcountryLife’, last October.

Alex picked up the prize in the French Travel Media Awards at an event in London last week.

The piece titled ‘Basque in the Sun’, which describes her campervan adventures in search of the best sunsets and surf – took the gong in the Best Family Break category of the awards, organised by the France Tourism Development Agency, Atout France.

Speaking after the event at the Oxo Tower, on London’s South Bank, the agency’s British head of public relations, Anne Pedersen, said:

“A total of eight awards were given out following a voting selection from 170 entries via the Facebook page and its 102,000 UK fans.

“From energetic ski and city adventures to soaking up the sun, the different lifestyles and destinations of France were celebrated by an inspirational variety of articles.”