First I wanted to be a veterinarian, but by 11 I’d landed on marine biologist in order to protect baby harp seals. That was before an outsized fear of sharks focused me on land-based jobs instead. By my early 20s, I graduated from law school expecting to stay on that career path until my early 70s — perhaps even longer?
Instead, disillusioned by court decisions that heightened hurdles facing people subjected to human rights abuses outside of the United States, I left law in favor of documentary film. A few years later, I found a perfect niche that combined the importance of law and policy with the power of words and storytelling: .
In the decade since, two critical truths have emerged:
Today I launched Stories Change Power to equip more people and organizations to make those skillful calls for change. Our new logo may look simple, but don’t be fooled; within the three swoops hide concepts that explain where we are in this moment in history.
It is a theory of change credited to Margaret Wheatley and Deborah Frieze and inspired by the most successful kind of system on the planet: ecosystems. Imagine pale green leaves emerging on a tree in spring, developing into a robust canopy in the summer, then turning brilliant shades of autumn colors before falling to the ground to decompose over winter and continue the cycle the following year.
Instead of a full circle, Two Loops recognizes that growth and decline overlap; a new cycle begins before the other fully ends. The arch on the left, the first “loop,” represents the initial growth and subsequent decline of an existing system. The arch on the right, the second “loop,” is the next generation of that system.
Unlike the obvious change of seasons, we humans may be lulled into thinking our systems — i.e., ways of doing things and ways of living — can go on forever. In reality, our laws, policies, and systems grow and decline, and that process can be inspiring and daunting, invigorating and terrifying, hopeful and heartbreaking all at once.
Our logo captures the fact that change is not linear; the two systems are not connected by a clear set of steps from the old to the new. Instead, there is a jump — a chasm.
Imagine if you could swing along trees: sometimes you might enjoy a firm grasp of one branch before releasing another but, more often than not, reaching the next branch would require letting go of one you have in hand. In that moment, you’d be floating in space — and that is what can happen as we create systemic change.
Feeling completely unmoored, unsupported, and uncertain can unnerve us to our core, especially if we don’t know there is a next branch — or loop — and where, when, or how we will reach it.
Those who are well served, particularly those who built the current system or are leaders within it, may be deeply invested in maintaining the current system, whether or not they recognize harms it has caused. Other groups are eager for something new to emerge with hope the next system will support a better life.
Put another way, some people easily see the need for change and will join together in building the next loop, while others spend their energy tending to a system in decline, not realizing that trying to stop this cycle is like trying to stop the change of seasons. Those open to change will begin to imagine the next iteration even before the old system has ended.
In the space between, we have the power to determine how sustainable the next loop will be. Will it last for many seasons or soon give way to yet another version?
History shows us that, like the elements of decomposing leaves support life in the next seasons, all resources eventually move to the new system. Along the way, we navigate how to let go of the old system with dignity, how to build the new system with intentionality, and how to accept that change can be deeply uncomfortable, whether one welcomes it or not.
Our logo nods to the two major political parties in the United States converging in the current loop. Some may argue the two have rarely been further apart than at any point in our country’s history, but we know that our shared future is linked.
At Stories Change Power, we want this next loop to be the one where nonprofits put themselves “out of business” by being so effective in their advocacy communications they achieve their missions and make their vision a reality. That’s why our second loop is a hopeful yellow and broadens as more people join in building it.
Together, these three primary colors of painting can combine to form every color under the sun, recognizing that no matter how many ways we humans seek to divide ourselves, the system that will last is the one that provides a just, equitable, and peaceful future for everyone.